Harley Quinn Smith almost got kidnapped while waiting for an
Uber outside of a Starbucks in Brentwood, Calif. Who is Harley Quinn Smith, you ask? Harley is
the 16-year-old daughter of "Clerks" and "Chasing Amy" director Kevin
Smith. Kevin is known for his quick wit
and rapid-fire repartee, but I'm guessing Kevin wasn't feeling so witty when he
heard the news that his teen daughter was nearly abducted by a fake Uber
Harley was waiting for her Uber to come. If you haven't used
Uber, the Cliff's Notes is, you have an app on your phone, which pings a nearby driver to pick you up. The app gives the driver your name and location while giving you
the name of the driver you're waiting for as well as the make and license plate
of his or her car. It also tells you, in real time, where the driver is and how
long until that driver gets to you.
(Photo on left by: Harley Quinn/Instagram)
So while Harley was standing on a Brentwood sidewalk waiting
for her Uber, two young guys ages 20 to 30 pulled up with an Uber sign in their
window and told her to get in the car. Harley recounted the event on her
Instagram account saying, "When I asked who they were there to pick up, making sure it was the right
car, they wouldn't answer me and said to get in the car. They didn't have the Uber app on their phone and were clearly just two disgusting dudes trying to
kidnap a girl standing on her own."
Technology has our kids getting into stranger's cars—just the thing we taught them not to do.
I was impressed that a 16-year-old was street smart enough not to just jump
in the car. She knew what to check for
and to follow her instinct that this fake Uber driver wasn't the driver for whom she was
waiting. As a mother, I can't help but think of all the "what if's" that could
have happened to Harley. Undoubtedly her mother can't help but think of them
either. Technology after all, has our kids getting into stranger's cars—just the thing we taught them not to do.
Though my kids are way too young to be Uber-ing on their own, I can't help but
wonder how many teens and young adults are out in the world using similar technology to their advantage, but are also vulnerable to the sick minds who want use the
same technology to their own advantage.
So if your kid is old enough take an Uber on his or her own, make sure she
(and he) is following these rules to stay safe.
1. Ask the driver who they are picking up.
Never give your name first. An official Uber driver will have your name and will ask your name to make sure you are the correct passenger.
2. Look for the Uber sign in the window.
If your child doesn't know what the Uber logo
looks like, show them. But keep in mind, anyone with good Photoshop skills can
mock up a fake logo. So make sure your child is aware this can happen and are on alert.
3. There should only be one Uber driver in the
If your driver already has a
passenger or a friend with them, don't get in the car unless your child is
taking Uber pool, which other passengers take as well.
4. Ask the driver for his or her name.
Before getting in the car, check the name of your driver on the Uber app as well as the make and license plate of the car. Ask the driver for his or
her name, but don't tell him or her the name of the driver you're waiting for beforehand.
5. Don't stand around looking like you're
waiting for an Uber while you're waiting for an Uber.
Sadly, it's easy to spot someone waiting for
an Uber. Someone waiting for Uber is usually alone, though not always, and is
staring at their phone while scanning oncoming traffic for their ride. A predator
will know this and will try to take advantage of someone with the "I'm Waiting for Uber" postures.
6. Don't get in the car if you don't feel
right about it.
Sometime we just
have an instinct that something isn't right. Teach your kids to use that instinct
to their advantage when. It's better to be wrong about a driver's
intentions and not get in the car than get in the car and into a nightmare.
7. Always report an Uber driver who doesn't
Uber drivers have very specific rules of conduct, that includes a cashless ride where all
transactions are done through the Uber app. The driver should take you to your destination and nowhere else, and the
driver will have all of your information in his or her phone before he or she
picks you up. If the driver doesn't have your name and payment information
before you're picked up, don't get in the car. If anything suspicious, inappropriate or dangerous happens, call 911 immediately.
After the near miss Harley's dad, Kevin
Smith, made her a cake that said, "Sorry men suck," on it. Though Kevin is getting kudos for his cheeky
response, I don't think there's anything cute or funny about what could have
happened to Harley.
The real kudos go to Harley for having the
sense not to get in the car, trusting her instincts and protecting herself.