I want to preface this post by saying that nothing bad actually happened to me.
With that, we now return to our regularly scheduled programming.
Recently, with the support of my parents, I took part in a rite of passage for 21st-century teens: I rode in a Lyft by myself for the first time. (I lied, I’ve actually done it 4 or 5 times now. But still. I took my first Lyft on my own about a week or two ago). I could hypothetically learn how to drive myself, but there are several factors that get in the way of my doing so:
- Driving terrifies me. I could mow someone over by accident!
- The requirements for getting a driver’s license where I live are really stringent. To my knowledge, kids have to take a driver’s ed class that takes up several days a week, do several hours of observation, and do several hours of private driving lessons. The amount of homework I get on an average night would prevent me from being able to make this commitment.
- The driving school in my town is terrible. According to almost every single one of my classmates and friends who have done driver’s ed with my town’s driving school, the instructors bark out commands and yell at students a lot and have absolutely zero patience for mistakes. Not an ideal environment to learn how to drive.
- Learning how to drive is EXPENSIVE. I calculated the cost of the whole process a while back and it can easily run upwards of $700. Plus, I won’t even have a car in college or probably for a while after that because cars cost a lot of money that I most certainly will not have.
- I live near a city that has a relatively okay public transportation system, so if I can’t walk somewhere, I can most likely get there on the subway.
That being said, sometimes I need to go somewhere that requires a car, and my parents can’t always drop everything to shepherd me all over God’s creation. So, on a particularly cold day when my parents were busy and the usually mediocre public transportation system in my city suddenly stopped, I had to take a Lyft.
Luckily, nothing awful has happened to me as of yet. Taking Lyft or Uber is just slightly frightening because it involves getting in a car with a stranger and thereby entrusting your life to said stranger. I have an app in my phone that lets my parents track me wherever I am, but my phone could die and I could not have a charger, or the tracking app could crash, or the GPS in my phone could stop working. You just never know who the person driving your car is.
Another issue I have had with taking Lyfts is that I don’t particularly love talking to strangers. I wouldn’t describe myself as shy, but I’m not the most outgoing person on Earth either. If my parents or relatives or friends introduce me to new people, I’ll talk to them, but I don’t love striking up conversations with strangers in random situations. When I take a Lyft alone, the whole ride is an awkward silence unless the driver plays music, in which case it’s an awkward silence with a soundtrack. Taking a Lyft with my mom is different because she is perhaps the most talkative person on the planet and would probably count conversing with strangers as one of her favorite pastimes. She pretty much gets Lyft drivers to tell their life stories, which, for whatever reason, are always fascinating. We’ve never had a Lyft driver with a boring life story.
I am far less terrified when I’m taking a Lyft by myself and I have a female driver because there is statistically a smaller chance of me getting hurt by a woman driver. I had to take a Lyft home by myself recently and it was dark out, so I was quite nervous. When I saw on the Lyft app that my driver was a woman, my shoulders immediately melted away from my ears and I let out a breath that I had apparently been holding for several minutes. I even felt safe enough to chat with the driver a bit.
My fear of taking Lyfts by myself speaks to the importance of the #MeToo movement because most men do not share that same fear. White cisgender men should not be the only ones who are free to explore the world around them without fear. I shouldn’t have to have a tracker on my phone so my parents can make sure I’m okay. And this issue is not just a women’s issue; non-binary and trans people are also at an elevated risk for getting harmed in public, and Black boys and men have to live in a world where the very people who are supposed to protect them can hurt or kill them without punishment. The work of the #MeToo movement has the potential to make sure that everyone can exist in public spaces without worrying about the worst possible outcomes.