A 20-year-old Winnipeg woman is speaking out after what she describes as an unsettling proposition from a cab driver during a late-night ride over the weekend.
Patricia Nosal and her friends went to Johnny G's on Main Street for dinner after a night out Saturday.
The group parted ways and Nosal hopped in a Duffy's Taxi parked outside the restaurant and headed home around 3:30 a.m. Sunday.
"My cab driver was very nice. He was very personable, he asked me what my preference in music was," Nosal said.
Things took a turn when the driver asked her a disturbing question, Nosal said.
"He turned to me and said, 'Would you like to make some extra money?'" Nosal said, adding she got the impression the driver was offering money for sex.
"I was like, 'You know what, I'm good, that's really not for me. I'm not that kind of person.'"
'It kind of goes without saying that you should be safe. I don't understand why we should be taking precautions for a service we are paying for to ensure our safety.' - Patricia Nosal
They eventually arrived at Nosal's home in the West End, but rather than stop and let her out, she said the driver asked her if she wanted to drive around a little longer and listen to music.
She agreed but says in hindsight it was "really naive" to stay in the car.
"Me being a couple of drinks in … he was like, 'Would you like to continue driving around and listen to music?' I was like, 'Yeah, sure, I'm down.' I didn't feel in any way, shape or form in danger."
After a few minutes of driving around the neighbourhood, Nosal said the driver pulled up at her home, where there was a second cab parked outside.
'What the hell is going on'
"But as soon as I got out of the cab, the passenger in the other cab … got out of the cab and he said, 'I hear you would like to make some money?'" Nosal said.
"I just looked at my cab driver and I was like, 'I don't know what the hell is going on here, I don't know what you're trying to do but I am not interested.'"
'I would just like to hold taxi companies more accountable for the actions of their employees.' - Patricia Nosal
Nosal said she called the cab company to complain as soon as she got inside her home but was surprised by the response she received.
"Essentially the operator told me he can't do anything about it, it's the weekend, so I shouldn't even bother wasting my time, I should just call back on Monday," she said.
Const. Rob Carver said police are investigating the case. He said Nosal's experience resembles a similar account from another woman.
Nosal said police told her when taking cabs it is wise to be in constant communication with a friend and make note of the cab number.
"I don't think you need to do that. I think it kind of goes without saying that you should be safe," she said. "I don't understand why we should be taking precautions for a service we are paying for to ensure our safety. I think it should be there already."
Nosal said the incident was "super frightening," as she feels that the drivers and the passenger in the second cab co-ordinated their arrivals at her home.
"The fact that he was sitting outside of my house is just super scary to me," she said. "It makes me wonder if when the cab driver was like, 'Oh let's go for a ride,' I think that perhaps he was just waiting for the other cab to get to my house because we were literally driving for two more minutes.'"
Duffy's Taxi apologized to Nosal in a statement on Monday, but claimed according to the drivers, what Nosal experienced was just a misunderstanding.
"What they've told me is that the driver who was waiting at your destination had a family emergency that required him to return home and could not complete the trip he was currently on. That driver called the driver of the taxi you were in and asked if they could meet at the end of his current fare to exchange the passenger," the statement reads.
"Your driver explained to me that his comment about making extra money was him repeating what his friend, the other driver, who had called him had said in reference to the extra fare he would receive for completing that trip."
Nosal said she doesn't buy that explanation.
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'So many what-ifs'
Nosal said she recognizes this isn't the first time women in Winnipeg have felt unsafe in cabs. She wants others to know that if it happened to her, it can happened to anyone.
"Nothing serious happened to me, but there's so many what-ifs. I'm so thankful my friends and I only had a few drinks and that we were [drinking responsibly]. But it happens sometimes where a young woman has too much to drink and she's essentially out of it. What if that were to happen? Would they have taken advantage of her?" Nosal said.
"I am still a little bit petrified because these people know where I live, and if I am putting their job in jeopardy, who knows what they'll do."
Nosal wants to see the ride-share service Uber allowed to operate in Winnipeg so that women have more options for getting around, especially late at night. Uber allows patrons to rate individual drivers — something Nosal considers a safeguard cab companies lack.
"With taxi companies you can't do that. You try to make a complaint ... and you're essentially disregarded and it's useless," she said.
"I would just like to hold taxi companies more accountable for the actions of their employees."
In a statement released to CBC News Monday, Ram Vallaru, manager of Duffy's Taxi, said the company is reviewing the incident.
"All accusations are taken seriously and disciplinary measures will be taken if appropriate," Vallaru said in a statement.
"It would be inappropriate for us to comment any further before we have a clear picture of the other night's events."