I grew up believing that people were inherently good. I still believe that because if I don’t, then life becomes a little sad and depressing. Having said that, I had a few experiences this weekend that showed me an ugly side of humanity—people who lie and try to scam women.

Last night, I hailed a taxi in the Uptown area of Dallas so that my cousins, a friend, and I could get home. I had at first attempted calling a Lyft driver but after a few tries, I determined that it would be quicker and pretty cheap to take a taxi home. The taxi driver was nice and even took us to Whataburger so the girls could get something to eat.

As we are sitting at Whataburger, I noticed that the meter wasn’t running. I asked him about it and he said that with it being so late, there was a flat rate of $10 per person. Our taxi ride would be $40 for an 8-minute car ride home. Thinking this didn’t sound correct, I started looking at his rate card which didn’t mention this “flat rate.” He told me I was looking at the wrong thing and pointed to another card which also didn’t say anything about such an exorbitant fee.

I began pestering him with questions when we left Whataburger. How could it be $10 per person? I told him he should have started the meter. He responded that I knew about the fee when we started the ride, to which I argued no. I had only been told of the $10 fee when we got to Whataburger. Eventually, I said something along the lines of, “Just because I’ve had drinks tonight does not mean I’m stupid and can be taken advantage of.” He became angry and told us to get out if we weren’t going to pay him the $40. I said gladly and told him to pull over.

I called a Lyft when we got out of the taxi and it arrived in about three minutes and we made it home safely. Still, this was an experience that was hard for me to come to terms with. I understood very well that this taxi driver was trying to scam us. Furthermore, he was trying to scam women that had just got done barhopping. To me, it seemed like he was counting on us to not notice we were being scammed because we had just been drinking. I also believe that he was hoping that as women, we wouldn’t argue the “flat fee” which I’m sure he was going to pocket for himself that evening.

Still, this was not easy for me to accept when I woke up this morning. Why would someone do that? Was it greed for an extra bit of cash after a long night? Did he need the money for some personal emergency or because times had been hard? Or was he just a bad person? Had he done this to other women before? Now I’m wondering, will he do this in the future?

I’m glad I argued with him and didn’t pay him one cent. I’m glad he got caught by me. I wish my camera had been working well when I tried to take pictures of his name and company’s number so I could report him. What he did was wrong and I hope this was the first time he tried doing this and that it will be his last. (Let me also add that I’ve had some AMAZING taxi drivers and this piece of you-know-what really is a bad apple among many great ones.)

More importantly, I’m happy that I stood up for myself. At one point, I debated not saying anything and just paying the $40. It’s not easy to confront someone, but as a woman, I must do this. I must stand up and speak up for myself and others because too many times women are taken advantage of and I’m tired of it! Although I may wish and hope that men really do see me as their equal and have respect for me, the sad truth is that some of them don’t and the horror stories you hear about some men scamming women in different industries does occur.

For instance, my dad always warns me that auto shops will try to charge me extra fees or scam me into buying stuff I don’t need (and they are less inclined to do this with men). This has happened to me. I’ve even heard of cars salesmen giving better deals to men and not to women. I’ve seen bankers give women higher interest rates on loans than they do for men. This stuff happens and although most of these men and women who try to scam women are probably good people overall, I believe they have convinced themselves that what they are doing “isn’t all that bad.” But it is. It’s wrong and discriminatory and I’m not going to let it happen to me.

My second “scamming” experience happened this morning when I headed out to find something to eat. I came across a woman that was very distressed and upset. She asked me if I had a car and if I could take her to work. She said she’d been asking people for an hour and no one would help her. She explained she was a good person and not a bum and that it had just been one of those days. The thought crossed my mind that she was a scammer, but then I said so what. I pulled some cash out, gave it to her, and told her to find a taxi to take her to work. She thanked me and gave me a hug.

Soon after, I saw a taxi guy who told me she was a scammer. The last I saw of her was when she walked toward the DART (subway). I don’t know if she was a scammer. She probably was and I was probably targeted because I’m a young woman. However, I didn’t feel all too bad about giving cash to this woman that may have lied to me. The difference between her and the taxi driver from last night is that she was obviously having a hard time in life and could have used the cash. Secondly, she asked me for help, not for cash. Although her story might have been fake, asking someone for help, for cash, for a lift in their car, is more honorable than scamming someone by trying to intimidate and manipulate them.

Although it doesn’t feel good knowing that a taxi driver tried to cheat me out of my money or that this woman may have lied to me, I still believe most people are inherently good for one reason.

Before I met the distressed woman, I had come across another woman. As we walked by, we smiled at each other and she asked me how I was doing and I said good morning to her. She stopped and quietly asked if I had any extra change. I grabbed coins from my wallet and handed them to her. She was very thankful and smiled at me as we headed our separate directions. Meeting that woman gave me faith. She didn’t ask for more than she needed which was something that I respected. She was genuine and I know that God will bless her a million times the amount of coins that I gave her.

I’m still a little angry about the taxi driver, but at least he gave me a reason to be proud of myself: for standing up to him, for remaining generous, and for still having a positive outlook on the world and humanity.

Featured photo by Matt Kane

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