My Experience As A Hijab-wearing Female Grab Driver

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This story is a user submission and is not affiliated with In Real Life Malaysia or any of its partners.

Image via BBC

I got into driving for e-hailing because of my housemate. She started out as a part-time e-hailing driver and is still actively driving with Grab to this day.

In the beginning, when she urged me to do it, I declined because I was worried about my safety.

But for the next six months, she continued to show me her worthwhile daily income and her experiences driving with the e-hailing company.

I was finally tempted to do it because a time had come when I needed to use extra pocket money.

I still remember my first trip — I drove a dad and his two daughters from their house in Putrajaya to a Mamak restaurant only 3 minutes away.

I was shaking in the car because I was too nervous. It was the first of hundreds of trips I had done since then.

How people saw me because of my hijab 

People are more polite and more careful in their interaction with me, especially for foreigners.

For example, there was a passenger (who’s white) that asked me whether he could get in the car, I assumed it was because of my hijab.

Women seemed relieved to see me as their driver.

Sometimes I would pick up women and girls, and they always looked glad to see me.

I believe it was because they felt safer and more comfortable being in a car with another woman — as I do with them.

But if the passengers were males (most of them were males), there were times when they looked worried when they saw me — could be thinking I would go slow or make many wrong turns.

I received many begging questions 

In this Sunday, June 24, 2018 photo, Ammal Farahat, who has signed up to be a driver for Careem, a regional ride-hailing service that is a competitor to Uber, drives her car in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. After lifting a longstanding ban on women driving, it's the latest job opening for Saudi women, that had been reserved for men only, and one that sharply challenges traditional norms. (AP Photo/Nariman El-Mofty)
In this Sunday, June 24, 2018 photo, Ammal Farahat, who has signed up to be a driver for Careem, a regional ride-hailing service that is a competitor to Uber, drives her car in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. After lifting a longstanding ban on women driving, it’s the latest job opening for Saudi women, that had been reserved for men only, and one that sharply challenges traditional norms. (AP Photo/Nariman El-Mofty)

 

There were not many female e-hailing drivers compared to males in Malaysia, or anywhere else in the world for that matter.

So, a lot of people might be surprised when they see one, and they would end up asking me many begging questions.

A lot of the time, the questions are the same.

“Is it safe?” You have to be cautious. But yes, it is safe.

“Do your parents worry about you doing this?” They are always worrying about me.

“Do you get harassed?” Well, it’s a risk I’d have to face as a woman anywhere.

“Does your husband feel okay with you being an e-hailing driver?” I don’t have a husband.

“Is there any risk of khalwat during your duties?” Maybe if the authorities find you in a compromising position during a raid, they can charge you.

But there is no law that says Muslim e-hailing drivers can’t drive with the opposite gender at any time of the day. Interesting yeah?

Met many interesting people 

During my career as an e-hailing driver, I had met many interesting people.

Some have exciting jobs; some have interesting backgrounds; while some worked in offices and organisations that I wanted to join.

It was always fun chatting with them. So if I were unhappy, I would start my car’s engine, and begin picking up passengers.

The Perodua Viva I drove. Image via Author.

Here is one: there was one time I drove a passenger who seemed very interested in this line of work.

So I asked him if he was interested in joining because he can use my code, and I can help with the registration.

But he said no.

Then, after about 15 minutes of driving, we arrived at his house.

Guess what, his house was a three-storey bungalow, and he had cars ten times the price of my Perodua Viva.

With whatever occupation that he had, there was no way he would waste his time to do any e-hailing driving at the time.

Met difficult customers 

I had also met less than pleasurable passengers.

They treated me like some lowly servant who belongs below them. And some would not acknowledge me at all.

The worst are those who tried to engage in sexual discussions, such as: asking whether I had gotten married.

If I said, I have not, it was whether I had had sex. Or the kind of interrogation in the same line.

In short, it was disgusting. I would then have to report what had taken place to E-hailing.

I felt many emotions

Image via Deposit Photos

I felt happy when I drove many trips and even more delighted when I received compliments on my service.

Meanwhile, on slow days when I couldn’t get passengers, I would feel disappointed because it means I had wasted energy and petrol while waiting for passengers.

Got sick because I had to skip a meal to chase more trips 

On busy days, I occasionally skipped meals because I wanted to chase as many trips as I could.

But then gastric pain would attack, as well as a headache and nauseous because I didn’t eat.

Nevertheless, health is the most important. So, if I got sick, I would skip a day to rest.

Finally, some words of advice to hijab-wearing females who want to start e-hailing driving — always be careful, but don’t be scared because it is safe, especially now with all the check-ups and regulations in place.

For more stories like this, read: 5 Things You Didn’t Know About Being an E-Hailing Driver and

Stories From My E-hailing Rides.

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