An unruly passenger coughed on, assaulted, and tried to steal the phone of an Uber driver in San Francisco, all because he had asked her to wear a mask.
Video shows three women in the back of a cab driven by Subhakar Khadka, 32, cursing and yelling at him. One of the women, who is not wearing a mask, begins coughing dramatically at him, and then lunges forward to grab his phone and the mask off his face.
Mr Khadka managed to get his phone back, but was left stunned by the attack.
“I never said anything bad to them, I never cursed, I was not raised that way. I don’t hit people, I am not raised that way,” Mr Khadka told KPIX 5.
The driver said he picked up the three customers on Sunday afternoon in the Bayview area, and noticed one of them wasn’t wearing a mask. He asked her to put one on, and when that didn’t work he drove to a gas station where she could buy one. She then apparently lost her temper, shouting “F*** the mask!” and attacked him.
When the three women finally left, Mr Khadka said one of them sprayed a chemical into his car, making it difficult for him to breathe. Police believe it was pepper spray.
Uber says it has banned the woman who grabbed Mr Khadka’s phone.
“The behaviour seen in the video is appalling,” the company said in a statement. “The rider no longer has access to Uber.”
However, Mr Khadka says Uber repeatedly refused to fully compensate him for the damage the pepper spray did to his car. In a series of texts he showed to ABC 7’s Dion Lim, Mr Khadka told his employer that removing the stain and odour would cost $250, but Uber only gave him $120 – and had started by offering him just $20.
Mr Khadka, who is from Nepal, believes the passengers treated him this way because he is an immigrant.
“If I was another complexion, I would have not gotten that treatment from them,” he told KPIX. “The moment I opened my mouth to speak, they realised I’m not among one of them, so it’s easy for them to intimidate me.”
Wherever they are now, Mr Khadka has a message for his three abusive passengers.
“Since you were born and raised here in the United States,” he said, “don’t think the other person is less human.”
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