Never in my life have I wanted to identify as anything but female … until I got into a cab in NYC on Wednesday, July 30, 2014. I was headed to a meeting and it was too hot to walk without turning into a sweaty mess, and I knew I would never make it on time. I decided to suck it up and hail a cab to head east.
I should have walked.
The minute I got in the back seat and stated my destination, the late-20, maybe early 30-something cabbie immediately began to sexually harass me.
Now, I am not one of those broads who is always crying sexual harassment when a guy I don't know or don't want to speak to addresses me or even smiles at me. I am rarely offended by dudes coming onto me, unless some cretin reaches out and tries to touch me. Then they're gonna get the death stare and pushed the hell away. (That happened to me at the Port Authority once.)
But this guy? The first thing the driver says is that it's his lucky day since all of his fares have been female. Since he loves all the girls, and wants to kiss them all, he was having a good day. He has no standards, it seems. But that was exactly what he said. He loves all the girls. All the girls. ALL THE GIRLS! At this point, I wished I wasn't a girl. I should've told him I'm a hermaphrodite.
Looking back, it reminds me of that scene in Meet the Parents, where Greg Focker talks about milking a cat and Robert De Niro's Jack Byrnes asks, "I have nipples, Greg. Could you milk me?" Cabbie, I'm a girl. Does that mean you love me? The coincidence that De Niro played a batshit crazy cabbie in one of his most famous roles in Taxi Driver is not lost on me.
All of this would have been funny had he said it once or twice, instead of 10 or 11 times. These weren't fleeting or arbitrary comments, or even mindles small talk. He was relentless.
Then it got really f--king uncomfortable.
He repeatedly blew kisses at me — all kinds of "mwah mwah mwah" in rapid succession. But these were not harmless air kisses. These were the wet, sloppy mouth noises of a creep. They went on for the duration of the cab ride.
I rolled my eyes behind my huge sunglasses and kept tapping away at my iPhone, thinking, "Ignoring him ought to get him to stop."
So I played nice and used humor to get through a situation that made me feel ill at ease. He was just creepy enough to make me think he might snap, so I figured my best bet was to chat with him mindlessly and keep him level. To give you some perspective, when my mom asks me if I've read Fifty Shades of Grey, and if I want to see the film, which she is stoked about, I roll my eyes and tell her, "Go on FetLife if you want to see what real BDSM is about, Ma! It involves head-to-toe latex and electrocuted scrotums."
I'm the girl who reads biographies about Ted Bundy while waiting for my flight at the airport. I watch every true crime show on TV and that has made me hypervigilant and aware of my surroundings.
One thing those shows have taught me — when reasoning with creeps or people who seem off, try and keep it level. So ... level I kept it.
He kept spewing about loving all of the girls and about really needing to get his money in Brooklyn. He was hoping one of his fares would request a ride to the outer borough so he could get his money. Usually, cabbies don't want to go outside of NYC. But he said he would only go and get his money if someone wanted to go to Brooklyn.
Sorry, brah, I got no bidness in the B-K-L-Y-N. I told him I hoped someone needed to hop in his cab to go be a hipster in Williamsburg so he could pick up his cash. Still, at this point, I knew way too much about him and his likes, needs and wants.
All the while, I consciously watched the route he took, to make sure he didn't make any turns and head towards Brooklyn. I didn't want to end up in a ditch.
Then he said all girls are birds, and that he loves the birds, proceeding to do a "caw" like a raven. I told him he should totally put his bird calls on a mixtape. He liked that. It was a compliment.
At every light, this cretin turned around and craned his neck to lean through and look at me through the open panes separating the driver from the passenger; but in this case, it was the predator and someone who was not interested in becoming prey.
He went on to say that some girls are peacocks while others are crows and ravens. Me? I was the beautiful peacock. I said, "Sorry, I'm a vulture … and I will pick your bones." He laughed. (And yes, these were all direct quotes.)
He again proceeded to tell me he loved all girls, like me, and that he wanted to win the lotto and asked if I play.
"No, but I will pray that you win it so you don't ever need to drive to Brooklyn to get your money," I said. I reminded him that today was his lucky day so maybe he ought to play the lotto twice tonight. I was on his side ... or so he thought ...until I was on the curb and out of his cab.
I distinctly did not like the fact that he had all the control by virtue of his foot and a gas pedal. I didn't think to write down his info to report him, since I was laser focused on GTFOT — getting the f--k outta there.
My intelligent brain analyzed the situation some 24-hours removed and I realize now that he was probably harmless, too forward and not much more than a real creep and a weirdo, to borrow a phrase from Radiohead's Thom Yorke. But I remained on guard for the entire 14-minutes because of his demeanor, his words and his behavior.
Can't a cab ride just be a cab ride?
Many women hail cabs in NYC because walking or the subway can be unsafe later at night. This was broad daylight in the busiest city in the world. I have been working in Manhattan since I was 23. Call me a hardened, seasoned vet of navigating NYC. I have dealt with my share of creeps and obnoxious cabbies. This dude? He tops the creep list. That's saying something.
Instead of showing my concern or even a touch of fear, I humored the guy. I played along. And that's a beautiful thing. A lot of people deal with the ugliest parts of life through laughter or humor. It's a survival mechanism. I applied it here.
One thing I didn't apply? Oh, just a nice tip on top of my fare. He didn't deserve it.
I'm a bird of prey, not the prey. If I hadn't been so uncomfortable, I'd have definitely pulled a Travis Bickle and thrown out a "You talkin to ME?"