‘He dropped the cord and put his foot down’ My taxi driver story

Getting a taxi home is part and parcel of a night out. 

The buses are long over and the concept of a designated driver doesn't always work out, so hopping into any of the hundreds of available cabs streaming down Dublin's busy streets (or the streets of any county, country, or continent) is a transport option that most people don't think twice about. 

In the aftermath of a recent viral Facebook post, in which a woman detailed her horrifying experiences with a taxi driver, I thought it might be time to share a story of my own that left me shaken, angry, and ultimately made me realise how vulnerable the actions of others can make you feel.

The Facebook post, uploaded by Emma Shiels, recounts how her seemingly fine taxi driver insisted on taking the back roads through an industrial estate to her house, even after she told him he was going the wrong way. 

'I screamed at him ‘Leave me here I’m getting out' and I threw money at him and ran. it was only when I ran out of the car I noticed he had no I.D or pictures or license number on his dash,' she detailed, after he proceeded to drive down a road Emma knew led only to industrial wasteland. 

Emma clearly made the right choice by exiting the terrifying scenario, and chose to share her experiences to warn other women of the dangers of unlicensed taxis. 

My story is slightly similar to Emma's, and like her case, the Gardaí are currently investigating what happened to me on Easter Saturday night of this year. 

It was pretty late in the night, and I had just left a party in Temple Bar, knowing I needed to catch an early train home to Galway the next day to be with my family for Easter. 

I grabbed a Supermacs (typical Galway girl, I know) and threw my arm out to hail down the next taxi. The one passing me didn't have his taxi light on, but wasn't carrying any passengers and pulled over to let me in. 

I hopped in, promising not to eat my curry cheese chips until we'd gotten to mine, and gave him my address. He never turned to look at me, which I thought was odd, but I thought hey, maybe he's just not a friendly guy. 

Things started going wrong pretty quickly. The driver kept turning the music up and down really loudly and he was driving erratically, speeding up the car and then slowing it down. I was weirded out, but probably not as much as I should have been. 

When he took the first wrong turn, I was concerned, but assumed he must be taking a short cut. I've lived in Dublin for a few years now, but don't know all the shortcuts.

It was then that things got truly scary. He proceeded to turn down a dimly lit, narrow residential street, and slowed the car down to a crawl. 

I was freaked at this point, and moved to gather up my possessions and kept my eyes firmly on what I could see of him in the dull shadowy glow of a far off street light. 

He moved his right arm down to the side panel of the door, you know the pocket where it's normal to keep a packet of buttons or your driving glasses, and pulled out a cord.

I had my hand on the door handle at this stage, contemplating jumping out of the slow moving car and running to where I knew the nearest Garda stations was. As he wrapped the cord around one hand, and then around the other, pulling a section tight in the middle, I started panicking, all my muscles tensed and ready to whack him with the iPhone I had clutched in my trembling fist. 

He began to turn towards me with both arms, in a move I perceived to be him making an attack to loop the cord around my neck, and at that moment, the door handle in my sweaty left hand slipped through my fingers and made a soft thud against the door. 

He promptly dropped the cord and put his foot down on the accelerator, swinging out of the residential street and onto one I recognised. I clearly wasn't as drunk or unaware as he may have thought I was originally. 

I had no idea what to do. I was scared to tell him to let me out or to scream or shout, in case he then realised that I had seen what he was going to do to me, and decided that he had to go through with it to shut me up. 

We got as close to my address as I could stand to go, I threw the money at him and scrambled out of the car. My legs were shaking so much I didn't know if I would make it down the road and to my door. 

I had taken down his name and driver number and texted them to my friend after he had dropped the cord, in case he tried anything else and I needed someone to know who had done whatever it was he was possibly planning on doing to me. 

The first thing I did when I got home was Google 'taxi driver strangling Dublin unsolved' on my laptop with trembling hands. Nothing came up. 

The next day I left my house to catch my train, and walked past a flurry of seagulls eating the discarded remnants of my Supermacs that had fallen out of the car when I jumped out. 

I told my mum what happened as soon as I saw her, and we decided that I had to call the Guards.

He hadn't touched me or physically harmed me in any way, but I still worried about reporting the incident. 

What if they didn't believe me? Or asked me how much I had to drink? But I knew what I had seen and knew I had to tell them what had happened, just in case it happened to someone else. 

Thankfully, the Garda who took my statement and gently talked me through what had happened never asked me anything that made me feel like I wasn't to be believed. 

The incident is currently under investigation, and while again, nothing actually happened to me physically, I was reassured by the guards fortification that there was something seriously wrong with this situation. 

It was also suggested that the driver had his lights off as he was looking for a suitable passenger, aka a woman alone, and wanted to avoid being flagged down by a group or a bunch of lads. 

I looked up the taxi driver on the Check My Driver app, and I didn't think that the picture it showed resembled what little I had seen of the driver that night. 

It could be been a copied licence, or a stolen licence, or someone driving the legitimate driver's car, or maybe I just didn't see enough of him in the moment he turned towards me to have that jolt of recognition.

Either way, while reminders to check that your driver is legitimate are necessary and valid, the fact that there are ways around it is terrifying, and more needs to be done to make sure that people can get from A to B without being taken advantage of, or worse. 

I have gotten taxis since, but now every time I use the My Taxi app, which has an option to send your journey to a friend, so they can track your journey and check you get home safe. I use it religiously in a morbid ritual, just in case. 

I'm still waiting to hear back if there has been any resolution from the Gardaí, and until then and probably long after, I can foresee myself taking every possible precaution when hopping in a post-night out taxi.