The other day I got a late start to my night. All my friends had gone out already and were together partying. I ran home from dance practice, picked out an outfit, and freshened up my makeup. I grabbed my black bomber jacket from my closet and picked up my phone to text my friends.
"Where will you be in 10 minutes," I said.
"We will be here, we will wait for you."
Just about ready to leave my dorm and meet my friends, I opened my Uber app and paused. It was 12:00 am. An 18 year old girl wearing a cropped top at midnight, in a car alone with a driver didn't sit right with me. I thought back to the screenshots of stories and conversations sent in my group chats explaining the need for caution when entering Ubers as there had been multiple accounts of kidnap attempts in the local area.
I paced around my room.
"Is it even worth it to go out?" I questioned to myself.
A ride that was supposed to be just 7 minutes. Just 7 minutes till I got to the party. Just 7 minutes till I saw my friends. Just 7 minutes. I could do it.
But the thought of getting in an Uber at this hour, for even just 7 minutes made me terrified. The thought of four women that were raped in Chicago after a man posing as an Uber driver picked them up from a bar. The thought of the Uber driver that abducted his sleeping passenger and left her on the side of the highway. The thought of Samantha Josephson, a college student that mistakenly got into a vehicle that she thought was an Uber and was kidnapped and killed. The thought of what could happen if I got into a car for just 7 minutes.
I grabbed a makeup wipe and cleaned off my face. Took off my jeans and slipped into pajamas. Hopped into bed and that was my night. I took the FOMO for the night because my fears took over. But they took over for a reason.
I am an 18-year-old girl and I am absolutely terrified to walk to my friend's dorm just five minutes away once it becomes dark. I am too scared to be in my "going out" clothes knowing the looks I get from men could advance into something more. I shouldn't be afraid to take a ride home when I'm sick of the party I am at. I shouldn't have the possibility of being kidnapped on my mind when I leave my house.
But that's my reality. That's everyone's reality.
The responsibility is in our hands to make decisions to keep ourselves safe and look out for the ones around us. Match the license plate with your vehicle and your app. Match the car's make and model. Before you get into the car, ask "who is this for?" rather than "is this for Brooke?" But even if you take all these steps it is much more safe to ride with a friend.
Taking these seemingly pointless steps could save your life. Our world is distorted but this is our reality. It could happen to me, it could happen to you, it could happen to anyone.