Ride-sharing apps like Uber and Lyft have become a ubiquitous part of everyday life for many people.
They've become so common, in fact, that many people no longer think about the vulnerable position people put themselves in when they enter the car of a stranger.
Twitter user @kellybarnhill took to Twitter to tell a harrowing story of a Lyft ride which quickly turned into a real-life nightmare.
Happy Thursday, my dears and my darlings. Earlier this week I vaguely mentioned a scary thing that happened while o… https://t.co/rbM6JTlj1f— A witch, probably. (@A witch, probably.) 1557411004.0
And while I'm doing it, I would really like to hear from other people about rideshare trips gone terribly wrong. I… https://t.co/vIXPGg8ocM— A witch, probably. (@A witch, probably.) 1557411090.0
Though it began as any other Lyft ride would, the experience would leave Barnhill shaken to her core.
On Sunday evening, May 5, I arrived at the Houston airport. I wasn't in a huge hurry to get to my hotel, so I actua… https://t.co/c2yqQTlBqo— A witch, probably. (@A witch, probably.) 1557411200.0
I hailed a Lyft. The driver arrived at 7:34. He was a personable fellow - youngish, handsome, smiled easily - and I… https://t.co/TBkurTa9DR— A witch, probably. (@A witch, probably.) 1557411305.0
The first thing he did was complain that the directions that the app gives him were "not the best way". I told him… https://t.co/1JYdBnyayF— A witch, probably. (@A witch, probably.) 1557411403.0
The driver said there was a lot of traffic and began driving away from the city.
I didn't realize that he was actually telling me that he was intending to go off-route. I didn't realize that he wa… https://t.co/61Md3TI1XG— A witch, probably. (@A witch, probably.) 1557411469.0
As we left the gas station, I peeked at the app. It said we would arrive at the hotel at 8:11. We chatted about his… https://t.co/CCCDlEkMew— A witch, probably. (@A witch, probably.) 1557411582.0
I decided to do email tasks on my phone. I noticed that the app now said that we would arrive at 8:15. Then, quickl… https://t.co/q6j5yBBIbd— A witch, probably. (@A witch, probably.) 1557411689.0
The driver began telling Barnhill again and again how pretty her eyes were.
He told me my eyes were pretty again. I pretended I didn't hear.— A witch, probably. (@A witch, probably.) 1557411718.0
It was getting dark. I didn't realize that we were headed in the opposite direction of the city. It was getting dar… https://t.co/AS2wf7QfE1— A witch, probably. (@A witch, probably.) 1557411881.0
Before Barnhill knew it, they were outside of cellphone range.
Finally, I finished my email and hit send. But it didn't send. I checked the app. It said that it couldn't find ser… https://t.co/VY6aipJAQP— A witch, probably. (@A witch, probably.) 1557411986.0
"Are we going the right way?" I asked. "Just relax," he said. "I know what I'm doing." "Oh," I said. We were trave… https://t.co/u3ckwt3M3I— A witch, probably. (@A witch, probably.) 1557412065.0
Without cell service, there was no one Barnhill could reach to help her.
According to Lyft's website, what one is supposed to do in these situations is demand to be let off. (Apparently, t… https://t.co/fEymJfLPl4— A witch, probably. (@A witch, probably.) 1557412141.0
Like probably half of you, I was raised a girl. And one of the things we learn while being raised a girl is how to… https://t.co/fRyJda11A4— A witch, probably. (@A witch, probably.) 1557412234.0
She began telling her own story like her life depended on it.
So I made pleasant conversation. I talked about my kids. I talked about how much I do for them. How much they need… https://t.co/RIfgDnO06E— A witch, probably. (@A witch, probably.) 1557412331.0
And then, because, hell. I'm a writer. I MAKE SHIT UP FOR A LIVING. I have been doing this for FIFTEEN YEARS. Longe… https://t.co/6TATC76M4X— A witch, probably. (@A witch, probably.) 1557412409.0
I shifted the conversation to ridiculous annoyances at work. I complained about my own employer - a transnational s… https://t.co/FazgCHzcFi— A witch, probably. (@A witch, probably.) 1557412535.0
Crucially, she made sure to mention her fancy, whereabout-tracking phone and powerful co-workers.
I made shit up telling funny stories about made-up co-workers. My ex-green-beret boss. My co-worker who was in spec… https://t.co/SjfdfG2E76— A witch, probably. (@A witch, probably.) 1557412700.0
I complained about my fancy Pixel phone (it's not fancy. it's first gen and I bought it for fifty bucks from a frie… https://t.co/snFv2SuXbd— A witch, probably. (@A witch, probably.) 1557412771.0
I told him that my boss literally knows where I am at all times. I told him that it meant that I never have a momen… https://t.co/LSzZnBqbbJ— A witch, probably. (@A witch, probably.) 1557412839.0
Suddenly, the driver decided the traffic wasn't so bad.
He told me that the traffic was probably low enough by now to take the freeway, and we made a hard turn. I have no… https://t.co/DJVPPrSGbD— A witch, probably. (@A witch, probably.) 1557412891.0
At 8:45 I had bars. I called my husband. I pretended he was my boss. I told him I'd be back at the hotel at - I ask… https://t.co/Yu6grItKFB— A witch, probably. (@A witch, probably.) 1557412998.0
(My poor baby was SO CONFUSED. "Okay?" he said. He told me later that he wanted to call me a weirdo, but when he re… https://t.co/DIkx2eVoZu— A witch, probably. (@A witch, probably.) 1557413087.0
At that moment, Barnhill's one and only priority was getting out of the car to safety.
We arrived. "Thank you," I said. "Thank you so much." My hands shook. I dropped my phone. My legs wobbled. I turne… https://t.co/HN9OBjZBKu— A witch, probably. (@A witch, probably.) 1557413216.0
After she was back on her own, Barnhill was charged for three times more than she had expected.
Finally, I checked my phone. I opened the lyft app to look for instructions to report the driver. Instead there was… https://t.co/MbdhalwADA— A witch, probably. (@A witch, probably.) 1557413297.0
I was in that car, all told, for ninety minutes.— A witch, probably. (@A witch, probably.) 1557413403.0
No matter what the truth of the matter was, Barnhill's driver should not be behind the wheel of a ride-share.
Now, there are two possibilities: Either I was in the car for ninety minutes with a predator and it's a miracle I g… https://t.co/DvLXHr4eqf— A witch, probably. (@A witch, probably.) 1557413434.0
The second option may well be true. All that "pretty eyes" nonsense could well be a hamhanded way of distracting th… https://t.co/XvZAIIxpIV— A witch, probably. (@A witch, probably.) 1557413549.0
I called Lyft that night. They REFUNDED THE DIFFERENCE. So I still had to pay thirty bucks to be terrified out of m… https://t.co/5A7nPRT8tm— A witch, probably. (@A witch, probably.) 1557413602.0
Even after the ordeal she'd been through, getting ahold of Lyft was a struggle in itself.
My conversation was on Sunday. As of this writing on Thursday, THEY HAVE NOT YET REACHED OUT. The only message was… https://t.co/lCfWH3ggg4— A witch, probably. (@A witch, probably.) 1557413667.0
When I talked to the gentleman on Sunday, I said "This man should not be driving anyone through your service." He s… https://t.co/qOAtlIUpCa— A witch, probably. (@A witch, probably.) 1557414156.0
I told him that this driver also drives for Uber. "We can't help that," he said.— A witch, probably. (@A witch, probably.) 1557414599.0
By the way, this is basically all I'm getting from Lyft right now. This and the email version of this. https://t.co/68v8Zjcqet— A witch, probably. (@A witch, probably.) 1557414716.0
People assume ride-shares are safe.
Most of the time, they are.
But, occasionally, they're not.
But here's the thing: as I sat in the back of that car, as I watched the world get dark and the land stretch away o… https://t.co/WNlQzZy78n— A witch, probably. (@A witch, probably.) 1557416652.0
I was in a school in San Diego earlier this month, and the teachers said that parents regularly have Lyfts and Uber… https://t.co/iGUw1tbBfZ— A witch, probably. (@A witch, probably.) 1557416719.0
These are parents who would never DREAM of sending their children to a school where the teachers didn't have to und… https://t.co/moonvqQjVj— A witch, probably. (@A witch, probably.) 1557416845.0
And you know what? Prior to this, I might think it's a little weird, but I wouldn't have thought too much about it… https://t.co/eWlgD8Gw69— A witch, probably. (@A witch, probably.) 1557416910.0
Gigantic companies that put their own profits ahead of everything create bad environments for everyone involved.
(and it is not lost on me that I'm posting this one day after #StrikeUberLyft. The cost is not only to our safety,… https://t.co/bU4nGOC4LB— A witch, probably. (@A witch, probably.) 1557417025.0
Extractive capitalism, as it turns out, cares little about the safety of customers and cares even less for the dign… https://t.co/AUrOWdRIM6— A witch, probably. (@A witch, probably.) 1557417090.0
Thank you so much for listening, my angels. It means a lot. I'm logging off and headed to do infinity errands. In m… https://t.co/CXGIqTDq1P— A witch, probably. (@A witch, probably.) 1557419566.0
Many other Twitter users shared similar stories of their ride-shares gone wrong.
@kellybarnhill @lyft I had a weird experience with Lyft last week too. In my case, it turned out ok, but I knew eno… https://t.co/iQlXrtNRyK— Kate Sullivan (@Kate Sullivan) 1557413446.0
This is a very similar story to what happened to me last month on lyft. It took me a full week to get resolution. S… https://t.co/guKRBlxbLd— Megan 🌈🧜🏼♀️🏳️🌈 (@Megan 🌈🧜🏼♀️🏳️🌈) 1557532976.0
@kellybarnhill @lyft I’ve had weird experiences with these types of services before so I now have the “text a frien… https://t.co/eeIMuVYGV1— Holly Lyn Walrath (@Holly Lyn Walrath) 1557413754.0
I am disabled and can't use Uber or Lyft and have wondered if getting in a car with a stranger isn't a bit dangerou… https://t.co/DPGnEVUFxc— Mary Michel Green (@Mary Michel Green) 1557544022.0
I am a @lyft driver. ALL THE TIME I hear stories from passengers about other drivers taking routes ranging from wei… https://t.co/fjq6lFyanx— Jackamac (@Jackamac) 1557518769.0
Barnhill returned to the thread later with some good news:
There are some journalists here in this thread who would like me to contact them. I'm not super interested in sayin… https://t.co/w3S4b6EhHF— A witch, probably. (@A witch, probably.) 1557431827.0
But there is a happy ending to all of this. Sort of. Lyft called me today - once the story had been retweeted 800 t… https://t.co/6XbI6Tohrp— A witch, probably. (@A witch, probably.) 1557431898.0
But the thing is? I shouldn't have to be a loudmouth on twitter to make things happen. I shouldn't have had to wait… https://t.co/rD8D3o4JzL— A witch, probably. (@A witch, probably.) 1557431974.0
Be safe in your ride-shares, everyone! Better to be prepared than to be caught unawares by a malevolent individual.