One night I was sitting at the train station hoping for a flag. The night had been slow. A train came and I was attentive, out of my cab and making eye contact with every exiting passenger. No luck.
It was chilly so I got back in my taxi and put up my hoodie and was about to turn on the ignition and try my luck elsewhere when there was a tap a my passenger window. I cracked the window and I heard the man's voice ask, "Can you take me to Cottonwood Farms?"
"Hop in,"I said as I glanced over and recognized him.
He was one who years ago used to attend the youth outreach I ran as a pastor. It was not a youth group. It was more like what happens when a pizza party met group therapy. We had abuse victims, rape victims, addicts trying to recover and much more. Of all the things I did in my time as a minister, it was the thing I was most proud of. Every so often someone would violate that safe space. This young man was one of those. He had participated in a multiple party rape against a young girl in our group.
We had helped the young lady as best we could in getting her counseling and aid. The aid group we had a bridge with does pursue legal justice to a point. Because of the complexities of rape, they leave it in the hands of the victim as they have to go through a very broken justice system and relive the events with added victim shaming if they report and it goes to trial. The young lady backed out.
It was, however, within my rights, to make sure he never came back to a youth event again. I did just that.
He did not recognize me at first. He was making small talk and I was giving short answers as quietly as possible. Then came the moment of discovery.
"You sound familiar, do I know you?" he asked.
"You do," and then I called him by name.
"Pastor Pat? Holy shit. What are you doing here?" he was confused.
"Working. I'm not a pastor anymore." I said.
"Wow. Well, this is pretty awkward, huh?" He asked with what sounded like a grin
"Yes it is," I admitted. "I think we should just finish this ride and go on with our lives."
"Are you kidding me?" He asked,"I'm going to enjoy this. You were so mighty and powerful. You had the power to keep me away from everyone and made sure no one came near me."
"No. Because there was no legal action taken, I had a private conversation with you and you alone. No one else other than one board member and a victims advocate as to how to handle this situation."
"You know, it's bullshit that a girl can dress however she wants and act however she wants and then change her mind." He said.
"We don't need to discuss this. You need to stop talking now." I said.
"Or what? You have no power. What are you gonna do? Ban me from the cab? Call a cop? The power has changed. One phone call and I can get you fired. Oh, this is great. I can't wait to tell everyone." He started laughing.
"A job is a job. I'm not afraid of anything you think you can do to me. I can get another job. Do whatever you feel you have to do."
"How is she? What is she doing in her life. She change her mind again and get 'raped'?"
"Don't do this."
The rest of the ride he kept at it and I decided to stop talking until we got to his destination.
"That will be ten, fifty,"I said.
"Here is fifteen. I will need exact change back."
"Here you are sir." I was near my edge. "Do you ever feel guilt for what you did to her?"
"Did she ever ask you or your friends to stop."
"Yeah. Bye." He was casual. He walked out of the cab.
"Car 22 to dispatch." I said into the radio.
"22 go" came back dispatch.
"I'll be 10-7 for a few minutes"
"10-4, let us know when you're back in your cab."