I have been thinking about an incident that I experienced last month that has been living with me since then. Here’s how I know there is a dark, seedy world of sex trafficking and poverty everywhere you go, even in our backyards.
One evening Michael (my husband) and I went out for a delicious dinner on a brisk fall night and indulged in a few wonderful cocktails. It was a fun night and much-needed after a year of craziness. We called a cab home and when we went outside to hop in there was a young woman leaning into the passenger side window of the cab talking to the cabbie about taking her home. We overheard him say that he already had customers waiting so we told her to hop in and we’d take her where she needed to go. Her fare would be on us.
Michael hopped in the front seat. I slid in the back with her and when the cab started to drive off, she immediately started crying. She kept trying to hand me a prepaid card that had $20 dollars on it for her cab fare. I smiled and told her she could keep it. We’d be happy to pay for her fare. She continued to cry heavily with her long, black hair covering the left side of her face and hands over her mouth. It turns out that she had just gotten out of jail that night and was looking for a cab to go home.
“Jail?” I asked her still a little tipsy from my drinks.
“Yes,” she said. “I got in a fight with my mother-in-law and she called the cops on me. I have been in there for two weeks.”
She was still crying uncontrollably and trying forcefully now to give me her prepaid card and I continued to try to reassure her that we would pay her fare.
“But whenever I get something, I have to give sex,” she said with an accent still crying, but even harder now.
I told her that we were going to take her home and we didn’t want anything from her.
The young woman who was probably in her very early twenties was Latina who said that her father-in-law brought her to North Carolina where she had to have sex with men. She had two small children and she said she was too scared to try getting away because he continually threatened to have her deported because she’s undocumented.
When I heard her story I put my arm around her and let her cry on my shoulder. Her hair smelled like she had been in jail as she mentioned. The smell was still in my nose for a few days afterward.
I told her it would be OK. I didn’t wholeheartedly believe that, but I was trying my level best to comfort her having just heard her situation.
Telling me her story, she was still crying and saying she wanted to see her babies. And, still she tried to give me her prepaid card for the cab ride. And, again, I refused to take it. I told her to use it for her kids and she finally relented.
When the cab arrived at her apartment complex on a side of town I had never been to, she jumped out and literally sprinted down the complex’s parking lot with her white purse in hand and disappeared.
Seeing her run through her apartment’s parking lot I realized she didn’t fully believe me that we didn’t want anything from her. She wanted to get out of that cab as fast as she could.
Who could blame her given what she has been through at such a young age.
During her time in jail she told me she just kept praying to God to get her out. I believe for sure her prayers were answered and for whatever reason we were put in her path to help her.
To this day I wouldn’t recognize her face because she hid so much of it behind her hair and kept her head down so much during that fifteen minute or so ride.
I just hope she’s doing better and that she is with her children.