I recently went on a trip to Sydney for work.
The thing that brought down the experience of the trip was catching a taxi on Monday night after an amazing dinner and a few wines. I've been debating writing about this experience, because it is just another shitty thing I've encountered. And then I wonder whether people will think that I am overreacting about things, or worse, making things up. I know I shouldn't worry what others think, but I don't want to make peoples' eyes glaze over by incessant talking about my skin and the shitty situations I encounter.
My colleagues saw me off to the taxi rank at about 9:30 pm. It was dark, and I was in an unknown suburb of Sydney. I'm confident catching public transport and taxis alone - I do it all the time in Melbourne. I always try to be aware and alert when alone at night.
I knocked on the window of the first taxi in the queue. His door was locked. He wound down the window. He was a man of African descent, with poor English. I asked him to take me to my hotel.
Instead of saying yes or no, he said 'what happened to your face?' (And, no, his tone of voice didn't indicate he was concerned for me, he was not welcoming to take me either.)
Tired from being up at 4:10 am, really sore, and not feeling at ease with this driver, I didn't answer, and walked to the next taxi in the queue. I didn't want to ride with this driver. I figured, if he put me that offside on first encounter, and I'm so tired, then things might get tense, or much worse, on the taxi ride.
The second driver didn't speak much English either. He asked me why I didn't go with the first driver. I told him I didn't feel comfortable with the first driver. I don't think he understood what I said.
He flashed his lights at the first driver, told me he's not taking me either.
Then he got out of his taxi, went to the window of the first driver and demanded to know why he wouldn't take me.
There was some sort of argument, I heard the first driver say he wanted to know why I looked the way I did.
The second driver came back to his taxi, pointed his finger to the first driver's taxi and told me I have to go with him.
I said 'no, I don't feel safe' and walked off. Unfortunately I didn't get either driver's taxi licence or car registration numbers.
I felt shaken, a little frightened and disoriented at that stage. My colleagues were no longer at the cafe we were at. I called my manager and she and my colleagues came back for me, and to see me off to a new taxi. I thank them greatly for this.
This next taxi driver was very nice. I told him what had happened earlier, and he told me I was a beautiful, smart girl and not to worry what others think about my appearance, even though it's difficult. It was a positive trip, at least.
As I've said before, sometimes I just want to get on with my day instead of being questioned about my appearance. It's such a hassle.
First published at Tune into Radio Carly