09252017Headline:

Working Girl: Some Decisions can be Delegated. Who You Sleep with Isn’t One of Them.

Just a Regular Working Girl: Moralistic Values Gleaned from My Time in Chicago’s Seedy Underbelly.

Moral 60: Some Decisions can be Delegated. Who You Sleep with Isn’t One of Them.

 

Not all phone calls are created equal. Photo by cito at Flickr Commons.

Not all phone calls are created equal. Photo by cito at Flickr Commons.

My boss Caroline handed me one of her cell phones. “Leslie, here. You’re making my appointments from now on.”

“Me?” I said. My voice sounded kind of squeaky, so the word “me” wasn’t really a whole word. More like a breath shaped around the letter “m.”

Caroline pursed her lips. “Come on. This is your job. You’re my personal assistant. So you make my appointments.”

True, I was her personal assistant. But she was an escort.

I just didn’t think it was a good idea for me to plan who she would have sex with. I had no frame of reference for that duty. It wasn’t like choosing the right scent of Yankee Candles to create the proper “forget you’re paying for this” mood (which I did before every appointment).

At least, I didn’t think it was like that. But if Caroline was picky about who she slept with, she wouldn’t have become an escort in the first place. And I’d seen a lot of her clients. Not exactly top shelf choices, even if most of them were in expensive suits.

She shook the phone in my face, and I took it so she wouldn’t start yelling.

 

Mora 60: Not everything should be delegated. Decide who you’re going to have sex with your own damn self.

 

One time, I held a tarantula at an insect exhibit. The tarantula guy’s instructions were to keep my palm very still and flat, and not make any sudden movements. Then he put the tarantula in my hand and I acted like everything was cool.

That’s the way I held Caroline’s phone. I wondered if her phone could smell fear. Maybe it would ring just because it sensed I was nervous. I must not make any sudden movements.

 

Moral 61: This moral is tarantula’d.

 

Okay. I had been a secretary in the past, and worked in customer service. I knew how to answer the phone. I could answer questions. I could book appointments.

“What kind of clients?” I asked. I just wanted to clarify my new duty.

“What do you mean, ‘What kind of clients?’” Caroline asked. “The kind that can pay to do me!”

“Okay,” I said. Deep breath. Approach this like any other logical problem. What issues might present themselves in a booking call with a john? “Well, what if they ask what services they can get?”

Caroline was not impressed. And she was getting flustered. “You don’t ever describe any services! You don’t ever say I’ll have sex with them! You know that, right?”

“Oh, of course, I know that much. But what if they ask—”

“OH MY GOD! THEY KNOW WHY THEY’RE CALLING! THEY ARE AT JUST AS MUCH RISK AS ME SO THEY’RE NOT GONNA ASK ABOUT SERVICES!”

 

Moral 62: In some conversations, what’s not being said, is actually what’s being said.

 

I wished there was some kind of orientation for how to book appointments for a prostitute. But Caroline was never big on training. During my job interview (which I thought was for some kind of typing position), she simply rattled off a list of stuff she wanted me to buy, handed me her credit card, and pushed me out the door. I didn’t remember half the stuff she told me to buy. She hired me anyway.

“Look,” Caroline sighed, closing her eyes and pressing her red-tipped fingers to her forehead. “Just tell them they’re paying for an hour of my time. That’s all you say.”

Okay, I could do that.

“And screen them,” she said.

What? Screen them? What the hell kind of questions would I ask to screen someone who wanted to pay for . . . an hour of Caroline’s time? I must have blinked at her like an owl.

Caroline was not impressed. Again. “LESLIE! You have to make sure they’re not cops! And that they can afford me.”

“Okay . . . What questions do I ask for that?”

“OH MY GOD! YOU ARE SO USELESS SOMETIMES! Seriously, is cleaning floors all you’re good for? Ask about their families, their jobs. Ask about the kind of car they drive and where they live, what kind of neighborhood it is. Get their zip code if you can. Whether they’ll be flying into Chicago first class or economy. Just get information. But don’t grill them. That’s not sexy at all. You have to do it in a sexy way.”

I could just imagine myself trying to interrogate johns with a phone sex voice: “Hi, this is Kira’s secretary.” Kira was Caroline’s favorite fake name. “When are you wanting an appointment? . . . Great, that sounds perfect for her too. Where do you work? . . . Ooo, sounds fun. What tax bracket do you fall into? . . . Mmm, that’s the sexiest tax bracket . . . What’s your zip code?”

This was never going to work.

If the johns were at just as much risk as she was, wouldn’t they be reluctant to give all this information over the phone? How would they know I wasn’t a cop?

I guessed if all they wanted to pay for was “an hour of time,” that wouldn’t become too big an issue.

How illegal was this? On a scale of 1 to 10, how likely was it that, if the cops came around asking questions, I would be implicated for aiding and abetting prostitution? This was probably a lot more illegal than pouring wine for a john, or trying to scam lingerie stores.

Many business do illegal things all the time in an effort to get more work out of employees and save money. But this felt different than the time my boss at the movie theater asked us to work overtime without pay.

Most of all, I worried that I’d book the wrong guy. Then Caroline would be at risk, and if she didn’t get hurt, arrested, or stiffed, she’d definitely get pissed at me.

Next week, I’ll write about the appointments I booked. (It would put me way over my word count for this article.) But for this week, I’ll leave you with a special lesson about illegal things.

 

Moral 63: In life, you’ll be asked to do illegal things. Do them or not. But pay attention to who asks you to do them. It sheds a lot of light on their motivations and whether they actually value you.

***
Quick—What’s the second most profitable criminal industry in the US? First guess, then click.

***
L. Marrick is a historical fantasy writer and freelance copywriter. She waxes poetic about swords and the Renaissance Faire at her author blog. She looks all professional-like at her copywriting site. She eats too much chocolate and still doesn’t believe downward dog is supposed to be a restful yoga pose. You can connect with her at either of her websites, and follow her on Twitter @LMarrick.


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