I have a very dear friend who travels almost constantly for business. As a road warrior, during any two-week period she might be in Europe or Asia or both, carrying her suitcase and laptop. Fortunately, she also has a cell phone because on one early June day, it saved her.
On that particular day, she had a business meeting in a highly populated city on the eastern seaboard. (It wasn’t New York.) The client she was meeting was new and she had not been to the company’s office before. After leaving the plane, she stood in the airport’s taxi queue and took the next one in line. The taxi had all the appropriate markings and displayed the city-issued driver’s medallion.
Then, she did something that most likely saved her life. Being a cautious and savvy world traveler, she opened the Google maps application on her cell phone and entered the address of the business she was going to visit.
As she always does when in a taxi in an unknown city, she started to compare the route Google was showing with the street signs she was seeing as the driver picked up speed. Alarm bells began to sound because according to Google maps, he was taking her away from the city and in the opposite direction.
When she asked the driver why he was traveling away from her destination, her fear became terror. “I like you,” he told her. “I treat you like a sister.” He kept repeating the words as the taxi kept moving farther away from the city.
Frantic, she texted her husband at home and asked him to contact the police, including a photo she took of the medallion and driver information that was displayed in the taxi. She also turned on the tracking application that would allow her cell’s location to be tracked.
She kept shouting at the driver until she could make him understand that the police had been alerted and her location was being tracked. She screamed at him to return her to the airport which he eventually did. Shaking and panicked, she left the taxi as quickly as she could and made her way into the terminal where she filed a report with the police.
I wanted to share this story to alert anyone – particularly women – if you are traveling in a taxi in an unfamiliar location, please turn on Google maps and check the route as you ride along. It’s free, most smart phones already have the application and it could just save your life. It also has a feature that allows your cell phone to be tracked so you can be located.
Other cell tracking applications are: FamiSafe (free,) Geo-Tracker (free,) Phone Tracker for iPhones and Family locator, among lots of others.
Most of us have these applications already installed on our phones, we just need to remember to use them. And although from time to time Uber and Lyft have made the news with security problems, as my friend found out even a taxi licensed by the city is no guarantee of safety.