This was long before Covid turned the world upside-down. Before Trump became the president of the United States. This was even before protests erupted against Uber in Montreal. This was 2015.
It was winter, we had just welcomed in the new year and I was visiting my sister in Hochelaga, the east end of the city. I wasn’t living here yet and a friend had offered a free ride to Montreal and back last minute. Eager to visit my sister, I came along for the ride and had a lovely weekend with her.
Before leaving the city, I was going to meet up with another friend who had recently moved to the city. She lived near Sherbrooke metro. In order to get there, I had to catch a bus to take me to the nearest station, buy a ticket and ride the train to downtown, switch metro lines and walk from Sherbrooke.
Well, I missed the bus and the next one wouldn’t be along for a while. My sister happened to have a free ride on her account and offered to call me an Uber. So, we said our goodbyes, and I loaded my stuff into the car, and away we went.
Your Uber Driver is Waiting
Riding off the excitement of the weekend, I was in a social mood and I ended up riding in the front seat. I didn’t often use Uber and I wasn’t sure of the etiquette. At the time, I knew it was safer to be in the back, but it felt somehow rude to me to do that with an Uber. Especially since he seemed really friendly.
He offered me a bottle of water and introduced himself. He had moved here from Paris and was driving Uber as a side gig. It kept him busy, brought in some extra cash, and presented lots of opportunities to meet new people.
His English was so-so and my French was alright, so we had some cute, broken franglais (French mixed with English) going on. The drive between my sister’s house and my friend’s house was about 20 minutes’ drive, so we had some time.
I told him how much I loved the city and wished I had more time to explore while I was visiting. He offered to drive me around the city, free of charge. I didn’t have the time for it, and it seemed a little weird to go for a joy ride with your Uber driver, so I declined and said, “Maybe I’ll take you up on that next time I’m in the city.”
I hadn’t thought much about it. It was a throwaway pleasantry that I had no intention of following through. He pointed out that we’d need to exchange numbers if we wanted to do that and then I kind of felt like, yeah, if I go around making offers, I should probably stay true to my word. Besides, I give random dudes from the bar my number, why my Uber driver? He was very nice and easy to talk to so far.
A Text Exchange
We exchanged numbers and I went off to see my friend. He had texted me right away to say hi and leave his name.
He didn’t bombard me with texts or ask creepy questions. In fact, we only had a handful of brief exchanges over the course of a year.
His texts were playful and nice. I told him I planned on moving to Montreal and would need to practice my French and he was happy to oblige me. We never called each other on the phone, but our little bits of text that year instilled me with confidence in the connection.
During that time, I had gone through many ups and downs and was mostly single all year. I liked the idea of moving to Montreal and reconnecting with my Uber driver, sparking what was sure to be a wondrous romance. The story of how we met was just too good!
So, after that year of casual texting, I moved to the city and decided to reunite with him.
Our First Date
When I contacted him to set up our first date, it had been a couple of years since my divorce and I had been stuck in a cycle of falling for emotionally unavailable people. My appetite for a relationship had steadily grown over that time and I was feeling HUNGRY for a good old mutual love.
This may have prevented me from seeing the red flags.
It was winter and a particularly cold one at that. I was pretty short on cash but also didn’t want to feel too indebted to him if he paid for an evening at a restaurant, so we decided to grab a bottle of wine and get to know each other better at his place.
NOTE: I would not recommend going to a stranger’s house for a first date.
I grew up in the country and then moved into a small town, then a small city and at this point, I was still getting used to living in a large city. I had really underestimated how far his place was going to be from my own. We drove for a long time to get there and I honestly had no idea where we were.
Thank God for cell phones.
I tried to tell myself to relax. To trust. I told myself that most people are trustworthy and good. Besides, this was going to be a wonderful romance with someone I met over a year before. If this was a trap, it had been a long time in the making.
We finally got to his place out in the relative suburbs and I was relieved to be going into a cozy, home environment…
I’ve Made A Huge Mistake
We walked inside and it seemed to be your typical bachelor pad, devoid of all personality. All the furniture was that bland Walmart black “leather” and dark wood style and felt like it had just come out of the box that Christmas.
We walked into the kitchen and again, everything was mostly empty and personality-less. Lifeless. No food.
The conversation was awkward and I already knew this was not going to be the beautiful romance I envisioned, but I was all the way out in an unfamiliar place and I was determined to make it through the date. Maybe I could still have a fun little makeout session.
Then we went into the living room to watch some TV and hang out. That’s when I saw it on the arm of the couch; the TV remote, COVERED in plastic. I sat down. What kind of person would cover his own remote in plastic LIKE A PSYCHOPATH?
He sat down beside me, picked up the remote, and started pressing buttons through the plastic. My mind flashed to a scene from Dexter. I started to feel the couch with my hands; plastic. I looked up ahead and noticed the TV. Also covered in plastic.
Suddenly my mind started imagining the walls, the floors, the ceiling, COVERED IN PLASTIC LIKE A FUCKING DEXTER MURDER ROOM. Blood spatter on everything and my mind didn’t stop there. I started to imagine all the potential dangers, and they began weaving a narrative in my mind. Drugs in my wine…unconscious and defenseless…Would he rape me before murdering me? After? During?
You Gotta Get Out Of There
My heart stopped.
Then, it started POUNDING.
My mind tried to say, ‘he’s probably a germaphobe, or maybe he only just got this stuff and wants to keep it in good shape,” but the fact of the matter was that I DIDN’T KNOW and I was unaccompanied to a new place and no one knew I was there.
As the adrenaline mounted in my body, I started speaking in soft tones and tried to think about how to get out of this. He started kissing me and I was afraid to find out what would happen if I refused. Then I realized, you can’t argue with chemistry and I was feeling none of it.
So, I told him that he was very sweet and I was enjoying his company, but I felt no chemistry when we kissed. Unfortunately, it just wasn’t meant to be. Oh well, I think I should probably just go home! *nervous laugh*
He tried to convince me to stay. He said that he wasn’t able to drive me back because he had already started to drink his wine. I told him not to worry about that. I’d find my way home.
Miraculously, I made it out the door and grabbed my phone. It was almost dead, but it was alive enough for me to see where the nearest metro was. It was a fair walk from the terminus, but I made it. It took forever to get back home but I MADE IT HOME ALIVE and that’s all that mattered.
Of course, it’s entirely possible that this guy wasn’t a murderer or even a danger to me at all but I wasn’t willing to take that chance (I had taken that chance before and lost that bet). This was far from the first time I had fled the company of a man in the middle of the night, and it wasn’t the last.
Dating is always scary, but it should never be DEXTER-LEVEL scary. Listen to your instincts, even if they’re ungrounded fears. I’d rather listen to a confusing, inaccurate feeling than ignore it and regret it. I’ve ignored my seemingly random instincts that turned out to be right too many times to question them anymore. He may not have murdered me, but I probably wouldn’t have enjoyed staying.
When you’re dating people you don’t know very well, make sure someone knows where you are and what you’re doing if it’s with a new person. Heck, that’s a good idea even if you’re not with a new person.
And to all the men out there trying to get laid: maybe leave the plastic for your junk.