Roaming the streets late at night, scooping up vulnerable young women and whisking them to safety. It might sound like some kind of a superhero comic, but Kathy Raydings doesn’t wear a cape, and she doesn’t have any special powers. Just a car, a license and a determination to get young women home safely.
Known as Grandma Uber, the 57-year-old has become somewhat of a phenomenon in Brisbane, where she currently spends more than 80 hours and seven nights a week ferrying people door-to-door.
More than 5000 women have ridden in her little Toyota since March, and it’s only climbing from there.
“I’m going to get as many of these damn girls home as I possibly can,” she told AAP.
“Our girls are precious. They can’t fend off men like men can fend off men.”
As well as a safe journey home, Grandma Uber’s passengers are treated to home-baked snacks – sweet and savoury – and she’ll even do a cheeky Maccas detour should you feel the need to soak up those ciders.
A workplace injury last year forced Raydings to hunt for a second job, and when she saw a Gumtree ad calling for Uber drivers she signed up on the spot.
She started out on the Gold Coast, but it was an eye-opening venture to night-club hot-spot Fortitude Valley that she realised where she was really needed.
“For someone my age who doesn’t go out on that scene anymore, it was quite daunting,” she told Brisbane station HIT105. “I thought, well, this is what I need to do.”
Raydings quit her other job, steered toward the city and never looked back, spurred on by the disturbing tales told by her young female passengers.
“They’ve been raped, molested, touched, man-handled, locked in cars and stalked,” she told AAP.
“It just sickened my stomach.”
As word of Grandma Uber spread, Raydings’ phone was running hot and she quickly built up a base of regular customers to whom she would send her rostered hours every fortnight. She’s also recently established a Facebook page to keep party-goers in the loop.
In fact, Raydings has become so popular with young Brisbane women that she’s started putting the call out for other Grandmas keen to join her fleet.
“I would come and pick you all up if I could, there’s only one for me,” she wrote on her Facebook page, “so I’m hiring more grannies to help and come pick you up in as many zones as possible.”
So Brissie ladies, go forth and hit the town. Grandma’s got you.