So last month I had a HORRIBLE taxi experience. I was leaving a screening for Netflix's Nappily Ever After in Soho and I had about 30 minutes to catch my train home. I desperately wanted to make that train because it was pretty late, and the next train wasn't scheduled for another hour. I initially called an Uber, but the nearest car was about 10 minutes away, so I kept my eyes peeled for taxis as I waited. When I saw an open taxi, I cancelled the Uber and asked the cab driver to take me to Penn Station. He agreed, but right as I was about to open the door I remembered that I'd left my wallet at work, not in the direction we were going, and asked the driver if he had the Curb app, which lets you pay for rides from your phone. He said yes, so I threw my bags in the back seat and hopped in. I also saw that the Curb option was on his screen.
When we arrived at Penn, about 20 minutes before my train was leaving, I followed the app instructions and went to enter the seven-digit code that should've been on my driver's screen. The code, however, was not on his screen so I asked him where it was so that I could pay. And that was the beginning of everything going completely south. He flung his hand at me, as if I was a fly that needed shooing, and said, "I don't know. Give me cash." I explained that I didn't have cash or a card, which is why I asked him if I could pay via app before I even got into the car. He then started yelling, "PAY ME MY FARE! PAY ME MY FARE!" and naturally I got anxious and scared. I spotted a taxi dispatcher in front of Penn and flagged him to the car to explain what happened. He also tried to pay with my phone, following the app instructions just as I had, to no avail. He told the driver, and the driver went OFF. Not only did he start yelling even louder, but he got out of the driver's seat and walked around towards me like he was rolling up on a grown-ass man in a bar — like yelling in my face and waving his fist. Both the dispatcher and I tried to calm him down, but he only got louder and started waving his hands even more. The dispatcher began to walk away, and I begged him not to leave me alone with the driver because I was legit terrified. He then asked the driver if I could CashApp or Venmo him, but the driver said no and continued yelling. At this point my hands were shaking because I was scared that I would either be physically attacked by this larger and likely stronger man, or that he would alert NYPD and I'd be locked up for an $11 taxi ride, or both.
I got desperate and asked a man walking by if he could pay for the ride and I would Venmo him. He said no. I then saw a black girl walking my direction and explained the situation to her. She agreed and used her card to pay the fare. I thanked her over and over and insisted on Venmo-ing her. She declined the offer and said, "You don't have to Venmo me; you've been through enough." In that moment I got super emotional and did a mental replay of everything that transpired in the last 15 minutes or so: how the driver really got buck with me over ELEVEN dollars, how the dispatcher was really gonna leave me there with him, how the first man I asked to help me out said no, how I could've been assaulted and/or arrested for ELEVEN dollars, how countless people walked by and saw and heard a man yelling in my face but didn't stop to check on me, how there's a possibility that things would not have escalated so quickly had I been white and/or male, and how I'm so immensely grateful for black women because time and time again, they consistently have my back when shit gets really real.
I entered Penn Station, in perfect time to catch my train all thanks to my sister whose name I do not know. When I got home, I went into my room and burst into tears because I was still shaken up. I changed into my workout clothes and decided to run out my emotion in the gym downstairs. The next morning I was still upset, and debated whether or not to vent to my mom on my walk from Penn to work. I decided not to, and instead leave the moment right there where it was. I was emotionally and physically drained from it, and didn't want to keep carrying it with me. I decided then and there that this was going to be my practice moving forward for other incidents: acknowledge what happened, process it, cry if necessary, and release it — don't harbor its energy or relive it by retelling it. (I realize that this is not always an option, like in instances of severe trauma.) Instead of recanting it for family/friends or letting it occupy my mind and feelings hours and days later, I actively let it go. My energy is a resource, and I'd much rather invest it into things like work and cocktail hours — not retelling or holding onto incidents that are such a small, irrelevant part of my overall experience.