Last week, I was watching the news — a rare occurrence for this writer because local news stations tend to irk me. However, the boyfriend had left the TV on after watching one of the millions of World Cup soccer matches and the news popped on. I was shocked, for lack of a better word, to hear that a female Uber driver was sexually assaulted by a passenger and then instructed to drop him off at his destination.
Wow. For the longest time, ridesharers have been more concerned about the fact that a driver may do the same thing to them and for some reason, we never thought about the flip side.
A couple years ago, I listened to two separate male coworkers tell me that they experienced a weird coinky dink with a male driving the same car on two separate weekends. Long story short the man in each case pretended to be an Uber driver on nights when they were distracted or unable to double check who they should be riding with.
Fortunately, he didn't end up doing anything to them, however he did convince them to ride home with him to "take out his dog" all while he consumed blow in the front seat.
Last month, we heard multiple accounts of female patrons allegedly being drugged at Rooftop 210 and Suite in the EpiCentre. Geez.
I thought we left roofies behind a long time ago. Especially after Rick Ross was dropped by Reebok after rapping a controversial sexist verse in a 2013 song, "You Ain't Even Know It (U.O.E.N.O.). "I die over these Reeboks, you ain't even know it/Put Molly all in her champagne, she ain't even know it/I took her home and I enjoyed that, she ain't even know it," the artist rapped. This was a full seven years after the Me Too movement was founded by Tarana Burke and four years shy of it gaining popularity.
Other nights, I sit around a table with mostly male friends and listen to some say how, "Women shouldn't walk home alone." I roll my eyes thinking they're sexist or just plain annoying. And even though I know the female-male dichotomy of "who can better take care of themselves" can be annoying, the fact that the conversations are relevant are just as annoying.
No matter who's "safer," the reality is that your mom and dad — who can come off as fearmongers at times — aren't all that wrong when they spout lines like, "Nothing good happens after 2 a.m. You can't trust people anymore. People are crazy." No matter how much we want to believe that people are innately good, sometimes they're not.
So what's the point, Aerin? As of late, my senses have become heightened to how little bar- and club-goers take for granted when it comes to safety. We've heard all the stories and yet, we keep hearing more about things that end up going wrong. From bar fights and gunshots to poor hookup decisions and roofies, we've heard it all. And yet we often forget to make sure we're aware of the rules required in order to truly be aware of our surroundings.
Every time I think about walking home alone at the end of a night or think about how I've let friends go home with a stranger the more annoyed I get at myself for even being aggravated by the friend (or when I'm in my man-hating phase, the "male chauvinist who thinks he knows what's best for me") who suggested I practice better safety habits.
True, we can't live every moment in fear, but we can make the best decisions during the time we have. "Stranger danger" is a real thing that we may take for granted after we become "grown." However, that doesn't mean the threat doesn't exist. And let's be real, if alcohol is involved, the threat becomes even more relevant.
Just last week, a regular at a local watering hole was telling me and my boyfriend that a couple was stabbed and mugged just an ear throw away. How easily that could've been us if we had parked on the same dimly lit street. The incident may not have made it to the news, it may not have been a part of some huge conspiracy, but nevertheless, it happened in an area where we both feel fairly comfortable.
All this to say, let's not be stupid. Shit happens and we can't always avoid it. But every other day, we can make smarter choices, especially when we approach nights in the Queen City.