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THE ‘NETTE EFFECT: The wrong Doo Doo

ANTOINETTE CONNELL, [email protected]

THE ‘NETTE EFFECT: The wrong Doo Doo

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THE GITS FAMILY was zipping along, heading to St Philip, when the mother casually pointed out: “Hey, look ‘Doo Doo’.”

She instructed the driver to stop so they could give the man a lift. With that the driver slowed down, the mother shouted the man’s name and directed him to get in the car for a ride.

It was only when the man happily pulled the door and jumped in next to their teenaged daughter that the couple realised it was not Doo Doo. The stranger, without ever acknowledging that he wasn’t Doo Doo, told them how far up to go and where to turn.

Now committed to giving the stranger a ride, the driver moved off following the route directed by the man.

And, for a few terrifying moments, the teenaged daughter, realising the horror of the mistaken identity, sat speechless, huddled as close to the front passenger seat as possible. Clinging to the seat, her imaginations of how this trip could turn out were running wilder than Stephen King creating one of his unsettling horror flicks.

The stranger, apparently thankful to be saved the chore of walking all the way, was oblivious to the terror he had struck in the hearts of the family, only focusing on getting to his arrival point. He was telling them where to go, what turns to make and ignorant to the uncomfortable silence in the car. When he was through with his directions and having arrived at his destination, he quickly climbed out the car, thanked them and continued on foot.

Of course, you can imagine the conversation that followed upon his exit. The next time the couple was travelling the route and spotted the man, the father accelerated before he could even look in their direction for fear that having secured a ride last time, he would feel entitled and attempt to make it a routine.

It hasn’t hit here as yet but the Uber phenomenon is about the same concept, giving rides to strangers. Initially it does seem a good way to get around. Using an app on your mobile for the Web-based minicab service, you can be connected with a supposedly vetted and nearby private driver who will pick you up and take you to a destination.

You are supposed to be able to see who your drivers are and track their location. Under the right circumstances, it could be more efficient than the established services and in Barbados that would definitely be the Transport Board.

But as you might be wondering, there is the danger of being picked up by strangers and the converse – picking up strangers under this system.

In light of recent claims of motorists having their possessions taken while at a standstill in traffic or creeping along, it is important for us to pay attention to what takes place on the road.

The experience of Doo Doo and my daughter Ya Ya’s friend’s family along with Uber came back to me because she is now a licensed driver. As such I have to keep enforcing certain security tips each time she takes our Betsy for a short drive. Mind you, Betsy is not very passenger-friendly and it would only be a short while before passengers are giving up their valuables in order to get out of Betsy.

All the same, we must still be mindful of the dangers that lurk each time we get into a vehicle, whether we are the driver or the passenger. Not every thumbing person is an actual desperate passenger and so you are within your right to reject them without feeling guilty.

And not every slowing-down motorist is a kind-hearted driver, so you are under no obligation to get in or feel that you’ve hurt someone’s feelings by declining their offer of a ride.

Whatever role we undertake daily, it is up to us to be vigilant. If there is any unease, pass up the offer or ignore the need to do something nice. And the situation applies in the case of women. Not every woman is a damsel in distress or has maternal instincts. Nowadays we will rob or employ violence the same as any male.

• Antoinette Connell is a News Editor. Email [email protected].