Edited 19th April 2018: there is a third category of timewasters!
Sex workers are constantly plagued by entitled people who waste our time. Every profession deals with these, but I'm going to go out on a limb and claim that sex workers probably get the most, and nastiest ones. I'm particularly irritated by them, since between sex work, my day job, study, my needy rescue dog, my slightly less needy partner, and hobbies, my time is already stretched pretty thin. From my experience, time wasters fall into two distinct groups: disorganised time wasters, and malicious time wasters.
Disorganised time wasters are your garden variety type - annoying, entitled people who feel as if they are owed workers' time and politeness instead of simply taking a few minutes to appropriately make contact after reading the relevant advertising material, where they found the phone number in the first place. They are always super extra suspicious, but won't do their own research to ensure you're genuine. They'll probably send you dick pics and then ask for something from you in return, or they'll try to get you into some sex chat. Sometimes, if you're saccharine sweet enough and baby them through it, you can scrounge a booking out of them; but unless you're feeling hard up for money, it's often not worth it. Disorganised time wasters are often a touch stupid, or simply mind-blowingly inconsiderate, but they're not really purposefully messing you around.
Aside from the honestly countless "Hi" or "Hi Sienna/sexy/babe" messages I get with nothing else, here are a few more varied messages to show you what I mean about them - these are all first messages, by the way, nothing was said beforehand, no previous contact had been made:
John*, 2:37am: Availibility? Now would be awesome.
Rhett*: Hi are you still about if so were and how much .thanks
Sanjeet*, 11:24pm on a Sunday, after calling five times, and being told off: Sorry I got mistake. U available now?
Khalil*, after calling, 10:32pm Sunday: What's the price?
Conrad*: What will your rates be and you're incall location in Sydney?
Liam*: Address? Available now?
Carlos*: How much and can I see a pic
Then you have your advanced, malicious time wasters; they are deliberately taking up your time, they know that they shouldn't be doing it. The kind who like to play games with you, and if they ever do make a booking, will probably not show up. The kind who has loads of burner phone numbers because they have nothing better to do with their time than harrass sex workers. The kind who collects your address or reports you to the hotel you're in after they've received that information. The kind who tells you he's in ABC Hotel, but actually isn't even in the same city. The kind who tries to manipulate you into giving them a special picture "just for them" usually of something you don't post pictures of, like your face. The kind who promise they'll book you when you come to their city, but there's radio silence when you arrive. The kind who try to keep you chatting for as long as possible for free emotional labour, sometimes dangling bookings as temptation. The kind who write long winded explanations of their fantasies or forcibly try to involve you in their kinks. These are the sneaky and insidious kinds, who might just be unpredictable during the booking, and will often turn nasty when you point out their behaviour.
The trigger for this post was a message I received last night that really made my escort sense for bullshit tingle. The exchange is below:
Hi there. My name is Dane*. I would like to ask a few things if you don't mind. What are your rates? Do you do any natural services? What is your availability? Thanks in advance
Where did you get my number? Rates and services are available here [website link]. I don't do natural services, and asking for BBFS is illegal and pretty gross, Dane!
I have a day job, so evenings and weekends are my only availability.
Thanks for getting back to me. Bit embarrassing really, my mate passed it onto me as I haven't done this before so I'm pretty nervous. Last question, where about's [sic] are you located?
This is where I got suspicious. It doesn't seem like much, but read into it a little further! You see, he said he'd never done this before, and yet, he asked for "natural services" (not something a newbie does) and did not request the definition of BBFS. What was he playing at? Well, turns out I still don't know, because he messaged one of my friends the same thing as well; I found out when I asked for a second opinion to my gut feeling, and she showed me the exact same opening message, which is also proof that he lied about getting the number from a friend. She wasn't as nice though, and asked him why he'd bother looking at her pictures, scrolling past all her info on rates and services, and then getting her number, just to ask the questions that were answered on her website and ads (an annoying, and unfortunately common occurrence). Anyway, I called him on it and he ended up admitting that he was lying, to "protect his privacy", and tried to twist what I was saying into proving I was "upset" that he was looking at someone else (who happens to be a friend, doubles partner, and someone to whom I refer a lot of clients, so I was naturally furious that he'd try to book her... 🙄).
His lies were really quite minor. Where he got my number, probably his name, and his experience; not really super important info, you might be thinking. You're right, it isn't important info (although, the name thing...), but what it is, is an established pattern of lying. Why would he feel the need to lie about these small things? Why did he try to twist my words when it was clear I was annoyed about the lies, and not his privacy issues, or his contacting my friend? What does he want?
I can't answer these questions, but what I can tell you, is that it raises red flags. Someone who is deliberately deceptive about these things is someone who intends something nefarious, whether that be abusive in nature, or merely wasting my time. They use their fake name and burner phone to make sure it's harder for me to screen them (but not impossible, Dane), and so they can behave badly with other workers without fear of it getting back to their real identity. They tell me it's their "first time" to make me more likely to forgive rude or illegal requests, like bareback services, and so I can't ask for references. It also means I'm less likely to check review forums afterwards, because a first timer probably wouldn't know about those, so they have freedom to post whatever they like and I am unlikely to suspect them. They pretend they got my phone number from a friend, so that they can quiz me on things already available online and further waste my time - that way they don't have to look it up themselves.
As it turns out, there is a third timewaster category: those clients who see you sometimes - or not even you, but lots of escorts - but expect loads and loads of your time on social media, through email, or via text. They don't realise they're timewasters, and they get upset when you even hint at it. "But I book with you!" they cry, "I'm not wasting your time!" I'm sorry gents, but if you send me a novel of an email to update me about your life and expect a reply when you book with me for 30 minutes, once a month - you are a time waster. Do you email your accountant between appointments to chit chat? Do you text your doctor to ask her how her day was? Do you expect constant social media engagement from your kids' nanny because you follow each other on Instagram? If the answer to all these questions is no, well maybe consider that escorts care about your life as much as those professionals do - not really at all unless we're together. If your answer is yes... I think you might need to reconsider your social boundaries. These are neither malicious, nor disorganised, so I think I shall call them oblivious, or perhaps self-absorbed.
Why do they do this?
There are quite a few psychological studies that go into various aspects of harrassing behaviour, but none that are exactly sex worker specific.
This CNN piece talks about how it's a paraphilia for exhibition that drives men to masturbate in front of women without their consent, or to flash their genitals - or, in our case, send dick pics. For sex workers, there's the added layer of stigma leading to us being seen as less than human, and the sexual nature of our jobs means people make crazy assumptions; "You're an escort, I thought you would want to see what you're working with". Some more information on exhibitionistic paraphilia can be found here. I am hesitant to class the sexual offenders who expose themselves as "mentally ill", so please don't think that's the case; paraphilias are not an illness, and I think that the underlying reason that men find this particular thing to be so satisfying is the implied power given. You had to look at their genitals, whether you wanted to or not, and therefore they are effectively controlling how you feel (usually disgusted).
This article from the Journal of Vocational Behaviour discusses power dynamics when men harrass women. It is from a pre-internet age (published in 1993), but nonetheless quite applicable to the interaction between a time waster and worker. You may not be able to view it if you don't have access through a tertiary institution, but you can read the abstract or purchase the full article if you feel so inclined (who ever does that?).
This Independent piece discusses a study on the gender split for online bullies and trolls. It found that men are more likely to be online bullies, and it showed a link between trolling and narcissistic personality traits. Before anyone questions the methods this study used: I know. But it opens the door for further research using more reliable data collection, and is enough to suggest a correlation. By far the most common perpetrators for malicious time wasting behaviour are men, and it's a kind of trolling, except usually done through text instead of online, and with often serious consequences for sex workers. So perhaps they do it because they have narcissistic traits?
Regardless of why they do it, it's unlikely to ever stop. I know some of us have a series of prepared responses to send people who refuse to read websites, or let off steam by posting the particularly stupid ones online (shout out to @PuntersFromHell for helping us all rant). Until the stigma of sex work is erased, and we're treated like equal citizens; and until gross entitled displays of sexism are actually socially punished, I don't think we'll ever see the back of these sorts of people - at least not the malicious ones. The first kind? Well. I don't suppose the world will ever be free of people who are lazy.
* Names changed to protect the guilty. Unsure if I got his real name, but just in case!