The Language Of Disrespect

, , , , , , , | Working | August 3, 2018

(I’m a Caucasian woman, but as my stepfather is Indian, I speak fluent Punjabi. I regularly catch taxis for work, which are charged to a work account. I book a taxi four hours before I want to travel. The taxi is thirty-five minutes late. When I get in, the driver is on the phone through bluetooth — which runs through the radio — talking in Punjabi. He offers no explanation on why he is late. I give my destination, which he doesn’t comment on; he just keeps on talking, but starts driving. As the trip progresses, he is still on his phone commenting, among other things, about me.)

Driver: *in Punjabi* “I’m taking a b**** to [Destination], then I’ll get lunch.”

(I decide to record the conversation on my phone and start taking down his license number and the taxi number.)

Driver: *in English* “What are you doing?”

Me: “Just writing some notes for my meeting. Are you going to spend the whole trip on the phone? It’s incredibly rude and unprofessional, and it is giving me a headache.”

Driver: *in Punjabi* “This stupid, white b**** wants me off the phone. I’ll take her the long way and make her pay. I’ll call you back once I drop the [insult] off.”

Driver: *in English* “I was talking to my brother. We have many taxis and are coordinating our drivers. I’m trying to make a living here.”

Me: “If you have many drivers, why were you thirty-five minutes late? And I fully understand you’re trying to make a living, but if I turned up over half an hour late without so much as an apology or explanation, completely ignored the client, and then spent fifteen minutes on the phone, I wouldn’t have my job.”

(He looks at me angrily, but says nothing and continues driving. When his phone rings again…)

Driver: *in English* “This is my wife. It could be an emergency.”

Me: *giving him the benefit of the doubt* “Fine, but please make it quick.”

Driver: *in Punjabi* “Hi, sorry, I’ve got some white [insult] who thinks she’s too good and doesn’t want me on the phone. A man needs to teach the b**** a lesson.”

Me: *in Punjabi* “Pull over, now! I’ve had enough. I’ll be making a complaint and making sure my boss does, too.”

Driver: *in Punjabi* “You understand?”

Me: *still in perfect Punjabi* “Yes, I do. Now pull over.”

(The driver pulls over and stops the metre.)

Driver: “Okay, that’s [amount way higher than the metre].”

Me: “Seriously? One, it’s on an account. Two, that’s not what the metre showed, and three, after what just happened, you expect me to pay?”

Driver: *now really angry, locks the door* “You discriminate against me. Pay the fare; otherwise, I’ll call the police.”

Me: “Call the police. You’re holding me against my will. Plus, it should all be recorded.” *I point to a mandatory camera that by law should record audio and video* “I think they would be interested in what has happened.”

(He unlocked the door. I quickly got out and he took off. I called my boss to explain what had happened. My boss sent a coworker to get me. I filed a complaint with the cops and the taxi company. It turns out he was already under investigation for similar incidents and for not having the camera hooked up. He tried to say I had offered him sex in return for a free ride, then called him racist slurs and threatened to kill him. Luckily, I had enough of the trip recorded on my phone. He was charged with numerous offenses, including holding me against my will.)

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