I’ve been reading these a bit obsessively, and while I haven’t really had one of these moments, I actually caused one many moons ago. This is kind of a long and different IDWHL.
At the time, I lived in the UK and moved to London after 2 years elsewhere. I wasn’t familiar with the city yet nor the modes of transportation. I already had friends that had moved there earlier. The first weekend, one of them invited me out to a night club in Angel (north central London), and at 1am, we all headed home. Except their home was in a different direction from my home.
During the day, it wasn’t a problem, I could hop on the Tube (the subway) because I knew my exit no matter what part of the city. But I had yet to learn how to travel the buses and particularly the night buses. Once it gets late in London, only certain buses run at night and there are far fewer buses to catch. We didn’t have apps at the time; smart phones weren’t quite a thing yet. I had to call Transport for London’s free service that helps you sort out where you’re going and how to get there. They told me to get on the XX bus on a particular side of the street and it would eventually get me close to where I needed to be.
It seemed a bit strange because the bus they were telling me to catch was headed north and I needed to head south and east, but perhaps it ran in a loop. So I boarded the bus.
Well, about 7-8 mins into the journey, I was getting nervous. It kept heading north, but also in a very residential area with nothing else and no one else around. Finally, I got off and started heading back south. I walked back 2 bus stops and there was a man tinkering with the ticket dispenser. I asked him how I could get to the High Street (a main road) so I could get back to XX. He began explaining the route to get there, but as he looked down the empty, eerie street, he paused. He explained that he would be shortly done fixing the ticket machine and could give me a lift to the high street.
So for the second time in my life, I got into a stranger’s car (in fairness, he had a TFL sticker on his car so I was rather confident he probably did work for them and wasn’t just waiting for a lost stranger to come along so he could abduct her). I’m not sure why, but he had me get into the back seat of his little 2 door car. And like the first time I accepted a ride from a stranger, I had my phone in hand hidden from view with 9-1-1 ready, finger on the call button the entire time.
**Please note, if you are living in the UK or plan to go there, the emergency number is 9-9-9 not 9-1-1. However, there was no handbook that I received upon moving to the country that said as such. Also note, because of the amount of American film and television consumed in the UK, many residents are unaware of the fact that the emergency number is not 9-1-1 and should you call, it will redirect you to 9-9-9.**
Anyway, I am generally the friendly sort and also one of my professors in undergrad told us that she once prevented a rapist in Central Park by telling him her name, about her family, etc. The more an attacker who doesn’t know you finds out about you, the more disinclined they can become. So I started chatting with the man. He told me things which I don’t know how credible they are but if they are, were fascinating. By the end of the chat, he had simply driven me right to my flat instead of dropping me off at the bus stop I needed.
And after all of that, we come to the actual reason for the story. He let me out of the back seat, and as I got out and said goodnight, a bunch of drunk British kids stumbled by. One of whom thought he was a taxi and tried to get a lift. The gentleman then said, “nah mate, I’m not a taxi”, got into his car and drove off.
Thank you for lift, wherever you are.