I believe that I’m usually on top of a situation and that I can use my intuition to sleuth out trouble. But when I feel disoriented in a strange place, my intuition doesn’t always kick in when it should. For instance, I got fooled twice when I visited Boston recently.
The first lesson I learned was to ask more questions when booking an Air BnB accommodation. I need to stop assuming that if host list a room or apartment on Air BnB it must be in a safer neighborhood. Not. I booked a room in the Dorchester neighborhood in Boston because I was fooled by the French culture and eco-lifestyle attached to the house. The hosts were charming but they were in denial about their neighborhood preferring to call it culturally diverse rather than downright dangerous.
When I told a colleague where I was staying about my next accommodation, she brought up numerous articles on crime reports of Dorchester and other communities on Boston’s south side. It was too late for me because I couldn’t get a refund. I tried to fool myself by telling myself it wouldn’t be so bad. At least the room was clean and the hosts seemed interesting.
But the area of Boston is notorious as a place to avoid along with Roxbury and Mattapan. And yes, if you choose to be politically correct you would call these areas diverse, but in actuality they are dangerous areas, especially for single women traveling alone. Now for a man or someone who is street smart and lives in another dangerous city or area, these places might seem like a cakewalk. But I’ve lived in smaller rural communities for the past several years. And I don’t know Boston well.
On my first day, a man sat next to me on the bus and I knew he’s up to no good. He got off at the same bus stop as me and followed me, even into a store. He pretended to be looking for something in the store but he had his eyes on me. I lost his interest when I started a conversation with another woman when I was back on the street.
On the second day of my stay in Dorchester I didn’t run into any problems mainly because I went to Cambridge for the day (much more pleasant). Although when I returned I felt the low frequencies of Dorchester, mainly seen through the streets and walkways cluttered with litter, broken glass, and despair. But on that day, I phoned a taxi service which I found online (mistake).
The next day the taxi driver showed up in an unmarked car. He grabbed my duffle bag and tossed it in the truck of his car before I could change my mind. Now, here are three mistakes I made and I hope you won’t make the same mistakes.
I didn’t ask the driver for his rate although I did know the distance to the train station from the Air BnB room was 3.9 miles. The cost for an average taxi ride for that distance in Boston would have been between $12 and $15. I wished that I also asked to see his taxi driver license since his car was unmarked.
I should have not engage in a conversation with the driver who I believe used a fake name (only because I’ve seen picture of him online driving other cabs and using other names and if that’s not true, then he has a twin that also drives taxis and owns a taxi company). This driver’s conversation was inappropriate because I don’t need to know the details of a driver’s views on sexual relationships nor do I want to hear about how some drug users in Dorchester drug women so that they can rape them. NOT.
Nor did I enjoy this driver hitting on me. And how did I know he was hitting on me? Well, he asked if I was staying in Dorchester with a boyfriend. Not that would be any of his business. Then when I told him I had my own business as an animal communicator he told me he that I could go to his office and he would teach me about business (more like he would attack me at his office…sorry, but I’m not stupid).
After we arrived at the train station which was about 10 or 11 minutes late, the driver asks me for $30 cash. First, that’s a rip off since the average cost for that ride is around $12 to $15 and there’s no way his car only got 1 mile to the gallon (he complained about the price of gas). I told him that his website said he charged $3.32 per mile (which is higher than other taxi drivers in Boston) and that still would have been under $15. He said he didn’t update his website. How convenient for him.
Since I didn’t have $30 cash on me he drove me to an ATM. But when I came out with the cash, I saw his car across the street and started walking towards it. That’s when he drove off with my duffle bag in his trunk. When I phoned him he shouted at me (and threatened me because I didn’t respond to his texts). But I was on the ATM machine and not my phone which was turned off in my pocket. He now wanted $60 from me because he had to drive to the Air BnB and warn the hosts there that I ripped him off (I don’t think he actually did this). And he said that he called the police to arrest me for ripping him off even though he drove off with my belongings. (In Massachusetts, all taxi drivers need to accept debit card and other types of payments and not just cash).
I phoned the police too because the driver had driven off with my belongings and I had a train to catch. Eventually a police officer did show up and he straightened out the situation with the driver. But when I was waiting for my train, I saw the driver lurking inside the station–most likely stewing because he didn’t pull off his scam completely. And it’s only a matter of time before he creates a new cab company and changes his name.
So here are tips to prevent this happening to you.
Find a reliable and licensed taxi service through the local chamber of commerce before traveling anywhere and don’t rely on Google reviews because they are often fake.
Don’t go with an Uber, Lyft, or gypsy cab service. They are not less expensive, the driver’s aren’t licensed and some of the drivers have committed crimes against their passengers, especially women. It’s ironic that women hire a taxi service to avoid danger but end up in danger at times.
Make sure there is a running meter in the car and look at the base rate and ask about the fee per mile. In fact, ask those questions when you speak to the dispatcher.
If an unmarked car shows up (and you’re not familiar with the company), decline the ride and call another taxi service. This is not a challenge in an urban environment but in a rural community there might be only one taxi service available.
Know that it is not professional or appropriate for a driver to divulge their personal details of their lives to a rider, especially their sexual life. This is uncomfortable at best and could be leading up to a dangerous situation. But we already know this.
I hope by sharing my experiences with traveling to “diverse” places that you will stay safe from harm. There is demonic energies in the world and they are spreading throughout urban and rural environments. All the positive thoughts are not going to make those energies disappear. Better be forearmed and prepared. Stay confident and act like you know where you are going. Granted, that is a challenge when you don’t know where you are. Travel safe. And remember people need to earn your friendship. They are not entitled to it. And we’re not expecting to become good buddies with taxi drivers or other service industry workers. We are paying them for their service and that should suffice.
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