-Hi, good evening.
-Giving me calls when I’m on break. Does that make sense?
-Oh, no! I’m sorry…
-Nah, don’t worry. It’s fine.
It was 10:55 p.m. when the Yale Security car arrived at the dark New Haven corner where I had been standing for more than 35 minutes.
I called at 10:19 p.m., gave my netID and pick-up address, and was told to wait for 10 minutes. But as those minutes went by, and I stood stranded at said nondescript location, I decided to call again. It felt like routine: first call, bail, second call, car — the recurrent inefficiency of Yale Security, at least when it comes to their escort service, had ceased to surprise me a long time before I finally stepped into the vehicle that night.
-Have you ever given a ride to a bunch of drunken kids?
-But have you ever had to deal with any…?
-Plenty of times.
In the two years he has been part of the Yale Security escort service, my driver said he had seen “all kinds of stuff.” Inebriated students fit under the category of Most Common Incidents, but drivers cannot take passengers in a state of intoxication.
“It’s a liability,” he said. “If you are drunk when we get there, we call [Yale Police Department].”
And although my driver had never found himself in need of calling YPD, he did have to deal with an over-confident Yalie one Friday night.
“I’m sitting there talking to one of the officers, and all of a sudden he’s sneaking around the corner,” he said. The student proceeded to open the door and jump into the car asking to be taken to DUH.
Still, most students aren’t problematic, or at least not the ones my driver that night had encountered in his Yale Security career.
“If you are getting to a point where you can’t even stand up, I won’t let you into the vehicle,” he said. “But if you’re having a good time and go to a bar, then it’s another thing.”
According to Thomas Schafbauer GRD ’10, creepy Yale Security drivers are just as common as the occasional drunken passenger.
“We were passing through East Rock and he knew exactly which house belonged to which girl,” he said in a recent interview.
The driver, who according to the grad student was supposed to pick up a female student from the School of Nursing, described her as an “oriental girl,” “maybe Japanese.” But as he read the LED screen with the pick-up information, Schafbauer said, the driver realized it was “the wrong one.”
-So, is this your first year?
-No, it’s my third.
-Oh, you probably know how the system works.
-Sort of. We never really get an explanation of how the whole thing works, though. Like, how do you figure out which cars go where?
-They set everything up.
-Because sometimes it’s a bus. And who’s “they”?
-They’re the University Security Transportation Dispatch Office. See, the thing with the bus is that if you’re on a bus route, they’re going to send a bus. And if the buses are jammed, they’ll send us. The computer picks up whatever comes out, so when you call and give your netID, it goes through the system. The system pops it up on here [points at LED screen] and then we get the pick-up. Everything is high-tech.
-79 Howe St., right over here. But we’re moving, we’re moving down to the new Yale HEALTH building, 55 Lock St. Pretty soon, not now, but it’s coming up.
Some students have indeed figured out the system. By the end of last year, one junior, who asked to remain anonymous to protect her privacy, managed to ride security cars only when making use of the escort service.
“My boyfriend used to live on Wooster Square, and I don’t like the buses,” she said in a phone interview. “I was not going to walk over there in the middle of the night, or take a cab every time.”
Though her boyfriend’s apartment is located beyond the reach of the service, the junior said it was never a problem for the drivers to take her to the portal, which, according to her, was “just a block away” from the escort’s range.
She added that she would use the service up to 10 times per week, mostly at night, but also early in the morning “if [she] didn’t feel like walking” before class.
“By April, I didn’t even have to say my pick-up address anymore. They knew my netID and where I wanted to go every time,” she said.
-So you’re a junior?
-Do you use the cars a lot?
-Once in a while. I mean, I just moved off-campus, so I guess I’ll be using it a lot more this year.
-Because I drove last year, but I was bald, so people don’t recognize me now. I’m the one who plays music…
-And talks to people.
-Oh yeah, jam tunes and all that stuff. Oh, we’re here. GPSCY?
-Not tonight. Thanks so much for the ride, though!
Correction: Sept. 4, 2010
This article has been edited to remove the name of a source who spoke to the News on the condition of anonymity. The News sincerely regrets this error.