05 July 2013

Discriminatory abuse from a taxi driver. Diversity training is urgently needed in the taxi industry.

Last night I caught a taxi home. The hotel concierge called it for me, from the Mantra on Russell. I got in the taxi, the driver fiddled with the meter for a minute, and then turned around to ask me where I needed to go. He saw my face, and then asked "what's that smell?".

"What smell?" I asked him. He turned on the light and had a better look at me. (Because that's what happens when you have a visible difference. People look twice, to see if they saw it right the first time.)

"What's on your face?" he asked. "You smell".

I asked him if he wanted me out of his taxi. He said no, but he's worried that my face and smell would damage his car. We had not driven anywhere.

I got out straight away. I did not feel safe. Before shutting the car door I looked him the eye and said "fuck you".

I returned to the hotel lobby, asked for another taxi, told them briefly what happened, and burst into tears.

I didn't get the taxi driver's number. But I've since spoken to the hotel concierge who told me that they can track the booking and get those details from the taxi company. I will make a report.

The irony of last night's situation was that I was catching a taxi home because I had just been at a conference dinner. A conference for Multiple Sclerosis Australia, where disability advocacy issues were being discussed, and people with MS were being empowered.

The second irony is that today I will be speaking at the conference. I will be speaking about my skin and how having a visible difference has made me resilient.

I'm resilient. But I should not have to be reslient all the time. I should not have to put up with or rise above or let it go. I should have the right to get on with my day or night without strangers (and especially service people who I pay) intruding on my privacy, questioning my appearance and making judgments on first sight.

While I have met some lovely taxi drivers, this is not the first time within a year that I have been questioned about my skin in a taxi.

I was told not to touch the seats of a taxi as I was taken home from the airport in October last year - the driver was scared my skin would ruin his seats - he told me he was very concerned for future passengers. But what about the current passenger he had a duty of care to get home safely? What about the Disability Discrimination Act and the Victorian Taxi Directorate Code of Conduct including their commitment to people with disabilities?

After a Bob Evans concert in May, a friend and I shared a taxi home. Before I got in, he asked my friend how much I'd had to drink. She let me answer. I had three drinks very early that night. I was not drunk. I was not disruptive. I just wanted to get home at 1.30 am. He thought I was drunk because my face looked flushed, like someone who had been drinking. And he told me that previous passengers had been as red as me and very drunk. It is not my role as a paying passenger to justify how much I've had to drink when I am clearly not behaving drunkly, nor why I look the way I do.

I believe the taxi industry needs mandatory training about diversity, visible difference disability, tolerance, respect and social etiquette. I have been with disabled friends who have been refused a ride because of their disability. I've heard of indigenous Australians who were allegedly refused a taxi because of the colour of their skin. A friend told me that a taxi driver refused her a short trip when she was pregant, telling her she was fat and needed the walk. This treatment from employees within a necessary service industry is not acceptable.

I don't know if writing this will make a difference. I don't know if reporting the taxi driver will change anything either. But after talking about my experience on social media, it appears many others have had enough of this behaviour. Thank you to everyone who sent kind words last night.

I could have caught the train last night. It was just past 9.00. But it was dark and cold and I was tired. The CEO of MS Australia wanted to give me a cab voucher so I'd get home safe. I eventually did, but for a moment, I didn't feel safe. The confines of a closed car, especially when moving, makes these abusive situations all the more scary.

We have the right to get home safely - without physical or verbal assault. If we can't feel safe in a taxi, how will we get home?

There has been an update on this situation: the hotel has tracked down the driver's details from the booking and have made a complaint. I have made a complaint too. The media has also picked up this story - read it on NineMSN.

I don't ask people to share my posts often. But I'd appreciate it if you shared this one. Thank you.

 

48 comments:

  1. Oh Carly what DISGUSTING behaviour from the cab driver. I do hope they track the driver down and deal with this discrimination issue. We do all have the right to get home safely, as you say, and we most importantly have the right to be treated equally. Truly appalling Mr Cabbie, truly appalling.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for your kind words Donna. Appreciate your concern. I hope this is resolved too.

      Delete
  2. Dear Carly

    That absolutely sucks. You are worth so much more than that. I don't understand how people can be so mean to other people. Best of luck at your event today - I don't know you in person, just through your blog, but from what I have seen you are an amazing writer and speaker.

    Evelyn

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Evelyn
      The speech and classes went well.

      Delete
  3. This story is dreadful. I'm glad this will be reported to the taxi company.

    Once when I was younger a few friends and I got a cab during Sydney mardi gras. The taxi driver asked us if we were men or women and then told us that if we went missing no one would miss us! We quickly got out of the cab but I wish I had gotten the ID number and reported the incident.

    Earlier this year in Melbourne I was 36 weeks pregnant and had to get a taxi to my obstetrician. The taxi driver asked me to get out of the cab halfway through the journey so he could accept a longer fare.

    Im pretty sick of the taxi industry. I have had lovely taxi drivers but the vast majority of experiences lately have been negative. I find the private cab companies are more expensive but much friendlier and customer focused

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Those stories you've shared are awful, Anon. I'm sorry you dealt with that.

      I have used a company called Uber - they were fantastic. They gave me some credit so ill get home safely.

      Delete
  4. It breaks my heart that you had to go through this, Carly. How downright disgusting. & then you burst into tears - of course you did. Oh the sad irony of it. You should not have to be resilient all the time, you're right. God dammit, Carly, sometimes I just want to punch people in the face. You are tested far too often, my dear. You are amazing. Sending you the love you deserve via the interwebs. & yes, I'll share xoxoxoxo

    ReplyDelete
  5. Oh Carly, that sucks royally. I'm so sorry that you had to deal with the ignorance and cruelty of such a driver. Make the complaint, he doesn't deserve to be performing the job that he does, and the next person he picks up with a visible difference might not have the courage to stand up to him like you have.

    ReplyDelete
  6. This reminds me of when Aboriginal musician Gurrumul was denied entry to a taxi for his skin colour, right after he'd come off stage at one of Melbourne's biggest music venues. The Victorian Taxi Directorate's response was that if you report the driver he gets a $300 infringement notice, then a 2nd time loses his accreditation, but not everyone knows who to report this to and most would usually brush it off, which is what the taxi driver is counting on sadly.

    You said you were tired which is fair enough. I generally refuse to use taxis unless I absolutely have no choice (and I'm sure I'm not the only one) because they're expensive, a lot don't know where they're going, and most are socially awkward which is counter-productive seeing their whole job is about dealing with the public, but the fact is we should all feel safe and happy in a taxi. Training courses for drivers would be too costly so it'll never happen, and the drivers only get $80-$120 for each 12-hour shift so they certainly can't afford it themselves. It's absolutely the wrong way to go about it, but sometimes I wonder if some taxi drivers abuse other customers to counter-act the racial abuse they get from some customers.

    Also, taxi drivers shouldn't be asking ANYONE how drunk they are. They're not allowed to refuse a fare or pass judgement. They're only worried that someone might throw up in their taxi, but even then there's signs saying there's a $60 non-negotiable cleaning fee. They just don't want to have to do it, but it's all part of the job. I feel as they don't have a supervisor watching over them they can get away with anything until the customer questions them, and even then it's the driver's word against theirs as they hold the steering wheel and can choose whether to drive or not. We shouldn't have to stand for that in Australia.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. WOW. I can't be bothered responding in length to your misinformed diatribe Shane W but here's just a couple of points for you to think on.
      - Melbourne taxi drivers have not received a fare increase (until recently) for over 6 years and even after the fare increase are still the cheapest taxi's in Australia.
      - Drivers are entitled to ask anyone and everyone how drunk they are and if they feel they are too drunk - to legally refuse them entry. There seems a misconception amongst many that the taxi industry exists solely to drive drunks home. Cleaning someone else's vomit up is "part of their job"????? How would you feel if someone came into your office, expelled the contents of their stomach all over your floor and then disappeared without so much as an apology, costing you your entire shifts earnings and forcing you to clean it up? As one of Melbourne's drivers i must say I'm very grateful you generally refuse to use taxis as you definitely don't sound like someone I want in my cab.

      Delete
  7. This is totally outrageous. I really hope your complaint makes a difference. I wonder if it might be worth writing about for a newspaper or magazine something? Ugh.. I don't know. I don't understand people.. :( I'm so sorry you had to go through this. Hugs.

    Ash
    www.gomumma.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
  8. This is totally outrageous. I really hope your complaint makes a difference. I wonder if it might be worth writing about for a newspaper or magazine something? Ugh.. I don't know. I don't understand people.. :( I'm so sorry you had to go through this. Hugs.

    Ash
    www.gomumma.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
  9. That is completely unacceptable behavior and I am so glad you filed a compliant. Stay strong and continue to be an advocate for those with visual differences and disabilities. I'm so sorry you had to deal with such ignorance. I can't believe there are people out there like this!

    ReplyDelete
  10. Dis-freaking-graceful.
    (I have far more choice words for them)
    That must have been awful.
    Many taxi drivers are very unprofessional.
    big hugs

    ReplyDelete
  11. Sweets nothing wrong with you at all! You should be so very proud of yourself. Don't let these narrow minded, short sighted people get you down. Always remember what goes around comes around and that you are the better person.

    ReplyDelete
  12. I'm sure not all taxi drivers are arseholes, but so many of them are advocating against arsehole passengers. Take a look in the mirror people.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Mandy
      Thanks for your comment. I see news reports of attacks against taxi drivers - this is appalling. However in my post, I was writing about my own experiences, not making a blanket statement about the behaviour or personality of all taxi drivers. The comments received about taxi drivers don't necessarily reflect my opinion of them as a whole.

      Delete
  13. I'm so sorry Carly. What a terrible place to find yourself. I wonder if hotel security footage can identify the driver more quickly? Keep on advocating. Education doesn't reach everyone but it goes a long way. X

    ReplyDelete
  14. That is terrible! I agree that the taxi industry needs some immediate training and regulation.

    ReplyDelete
  15. What a total arsehat - I hope that driver gets his butt kicked. You are an amazing woman and deserve respect, full stop. Sending big hugs

    ReplyDelete
  16. I love that you are taking a stand towards this crap. It disappoints me that there are people out there that don't seem to think about their actions towards others. Lots of love to you and lets hope he learns his lesson! I'm trying to bring my kids up knowing that there are all types of people in our world, and that their looks do not define who they are. Jacinta

    ReplyDelete
  17. I love that you are taking a stand towards this crap. It disappoints me that there are people out there that don't seem to think about their actions towards others. Lots of love to you and lets hope he learns his lesson! I'm trying to bring my kids up knowing that there are all types of people in our world, and that their looks do not define who they are. Jacinta

    ReplyDelete
  18. I love that you are taking a stand towards this crap. It disappoints me that there are people out there that don't seem to think about their actions towards others. Lots of love to you and lets hope he learns his lesson! I'm trying to bring my kids up knowing that there are all types of people in our world, and that their looks do not define who they are. Jacinta

    ReplyDelete
  19. Ahh, I think my post got eaten! I just wanted to say that I am proud you are taking a stand, no one should be treated in such a way. I hope he learns a valuable lesson and treats everyone with respect from now on! Jacinta

    ReplyDelete
  20. Discrimination is not OK on all counts.

    I'm sorry you had to experience this. Genuinely sorry.

    I promise that if you had met me, I would have treated you like I would treat anyone else. Well.... except I would have flirted with you since you are an attractive woman :)


    D

    ReplyDelete
  21. What a horrible and scary experience for you. Absolutely disgraceful behaviour by the taxi driver and should not be tolerated. I really do hope you get to report him because it will be one more person who will next time (hopefully) think again and consider the feelings of others before saying such terrible things. I think you're brilliant so keep that light shining bright. x

    ReplyDelete
  22. I'm so sorry to hear that happened to you Carly. You definitely did NOT deserve that treatment. There are some very inconsiderate people out there who can be so ruthless. I'm glad the taxi driver was found and a complaint made, hopefully he learns his lesson. Thanks for bringing this to our attention. Cherie.

    ReplyDelete
  23. There are no words :( I hope he gets disciplined/educated.


    Roni

    ReplyDelete
  24. Carly thank you for writing about this and educating people regarding this issue. The taxi driver's behaviour was atrocious but your courage has enabled this experience to become a learning experience for others. I am glad it was picked up by the media and I hope the taxi driver feels like shit for how he treated you but moreso I hope he learns from this experience within.

    Yelleana

    ReplyDelete
  25. I used to bartend in the city and had to get home after PT had stopped regularly, but I stopped getting taxis at night after one of them offered me $200 to have sex with him in the back. Made me feel sick and also scared. Nightrider from then on and the staff that drive those are awesome.

    ReplyDelete
  26. Carly's experience is inexcusable but we need to recognise that taxi drivers are the lowest of the low paid workers, with no award rates or any industrial protections. They are amongst the most exploited workers and hence only the least skilled and desperate need and accept the work.

    Bus drivers mostly provide good customer service because they are paid an award wage and and trained properly. We taxpayers are partially responsible for the terrible service we receive from taxi drivers because we allow the drivers to be exploited. We don't want to pay more for better service.

    However, there is no correlation between what the customer pays and the service we get. All the profit goes to the licence holders who exploit the drivers. We don't demand that the government regulate what is officially a part of the public transport system to deliver the same standards as the rest of the public transport system. Licencees who fail the standards should lose their licences.

    If taxi drivers were paid the same as bus drivers, we could reasonably expect the same level of customer service.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey Fitzroyalty

      Great points there. The taxi industry does need a good shake up and wages regulated.

      However, I do think this behaviour comes down to individual taxi drivers. This guy last week missed out on my fare because of his behaviour. Had he been more disability aware and treated his customers better, he would have made a fare.

      Delete
    2. Customers should not have to rely on individual drivers being decent human beings but that is what we experience at the moment. This is because their employers, the licence holders, are not regulated adequately and are not forced to pay for high quality training that would make every driver behave like a decent human being.

      You're right that some drivers are too stupid to realise that being nice to customers may earn them more income. But they should not be free to make such choices for themselves because they should be offering good service by default.

      Delete
  27. Well done on taking a stand, Carly. No one deserves to be treated like this, and I can't help but wonder how many before you have been mistreated and not spoken up.

    You are making a positive difference and will no doubt continue to do so.

    ReplyDelete
  28. That guy was a dick. I'm sorry you had to deal with that sort of crap.

    ReplyDelete
  29. Ms Findlay, the news media has advised that the matter has been resolved and this will be addressed with the driver..and I am absoluteln delighted for you that this has had a positive outcome.

    You showed courage and dignity (and btw the F you isnt exactly ladylike..then again it was also entirely appropriate so bravo for speaking up)

    Proud of you. Dont ever let people like this get you down.

    ReplyDelete
  30. Just read the story about the taxi driver. How dare they think they can get away with that shit. So glad you spoke out Carly. It's about time we as a society put these dickheads in their place. Sorry you had to put up with such discrimination. Keep your chin up & know most people are in support & find these idiots disgusting.
    George

    ReplyDelete
  31. Oh Carly, I just read this on news.com.au.
    This is just awful. My heart goes out to you. People are just so ignorant and so inappropriate. I'm so sorry you had to endure unfair discrimination and willing that with education there will be widespread change.
    I love reading your posts on MM - I think this qualifies as your next one!
    fifi-lulu

    ReplyDelete
  32. What an appalling and sickening story of ignorance and sheer pigheaded stupidity. I wish you all the best in the complaints process, whichever avenues you take.

    It has been bad enough when my brother with cerebral palsy has been refused service because people have assumed he was drunk - but this is another level of atrocious idiocy. An apology is not enough.

    ReplyDelete
  33. I rarely comment on any blogs - but I am sick with fury at this story of appalling ignorance and pigheaded stupidity. I wish you the best of luck in the complaints process.

    It is bad enough when people have mistreated my brother, who has cerebral palsy, for presuming he is drunk. Your story, however, shows another level of appalling foolishness. I am furious.

    ReplyDelete
  34. Carly, very sorry to hear of this awful experience with a bastard of a taxi driver. While there are many very good taxi drivers, it only takes one in a thousand to totally ruined a trip out and make you think twice about going out again. Any time anybody is abused or discriminated against by taxi drivers or anybody else they should lodge a complaint with the taxi services commission (for taxis) http://www.taxi.vic.gov.au/about-us/feedback-form/complaint-handling and the Victorian equal opportunity and human rights commission http://www.humanrightscommission.vic.gov.au/index.php/types-of-discrimination/disability.

    I know we all want to lead ordinary lives were we don't have to complain about discrimination all the time, particularly when it seems to happens very often, but unless we do others have to suffer it too, so when we do, we make things a little bit better for others in the future.

    Regards, Frank Hall-Bentick AM

    ReplyDelete
  35. Hi,
    I'm sorry to hear of your experience with the taxi driver. Fortunately for me all of my experiences with cab drivers have been positive. I am totally blind and save myself from getting ripped off etc by having technology at my disposal such as GPS apps on my iPhone etc. However, I've hardly had to call upon them to use against drivers though. Having said that, some of my good friends are cabbies. I guess I'm just lucky! I only wish I could transfer that into lotto smile.

    Good luck with your complaint etc and hope he gets what he deserves.
    David T.

    ReplyDelete
  36. Carly, I read this article on Stuff.co.nz, and immediately all I could think of was how unfair it is that you were being discriminated against, in this manner. It truly is ignorant behavior - Good on you for standing up for yourself and for placing a complaint!

    ReplyDelete
  37. Carly....YOU make a difference!

    ReplyDelete
  38. Oh Carly, I am so saddened to read this, what an awful experience. I can only hope that, with more of us standing up like you do and complaining and raising awareness, one day people with a disability/difference will be treated with more equality.

    ReplyDelete
  39. Taxi directorate is a totally useless organization that makes a lot of noise from token fines and punishments it hands out to unlucky drivers. I have also a big fleet of taxi service in Chandigarh and my only motto is quality service.

    ReplyDelete

Thank you for reading my blog. I love receiving comments :)
I really appreciate the time you've taken to write to me, and to share something about yourself.

LinkWithin

Related Posts with Thumbnails