My Least Favorite Phone Call
Caller: (very irate-sounding female voice) Who is this?
Oh shit. I really, really hate it when this happens.
Me: Who's calling, please?
Caller: No, tell me who this is, right now!
Me: (in my very haughtiest tone) I think you must have the wrong number. Goodbye.
She'll call back, though. Ten seconds later -
Caller: Look, I found this phone number on my boyfriend's cell phone and I want to know who this is!
Me: I have no idea who you are or what you're talking about –
Caller: (interrupts) His name is Joe Blow – do you know him? Is he seeing you?
I don't recognize the name, or the number she's calling from, thank god. I'm glad it's not one of my regular boys. It's probably some poor guy who's curious enough to call me, but who got nervous and hung up when I answered. I get a lot of that. But my number got saved in his outgoing-calls log, and she's checking up on him.
Me: (slowly) I don't know who you are, I don't know your boyfriend, and I want you to stop calling me.
Caller: Why is your number on his phone! I want to know who this is!
Jesus Christ, she's positively shrieking into the phone. I hold it away from my head to keep my eardrums from being shattered. According to Caller ID, this call is coming from an area code in another state. That's a good thing: if this woman was local she'd probably start stalking me or something, the way she's going on.
I know other sex workers also get these type of phone calls. Several of them have techniques they swear by for dealing with it. One of them claims to be an insurance agent, another one pretends to work for a car dealership. If this was a call about a client I knew, I'd be more apt to start spinning some kind of folksy, non-threatening yarn, based on trivia I'd picked up about the guy. "Oh, a girlfriend of mine works with Joe down at the real estate office, and she gave me his number. My husband and I are thinking about buying a timeshare in Mexico, and she said ya'll had one. We just wanted to ask – have ya'll had any problems drinking the water down there? Because those salesmen, they won't tell you about stuff like that, and we don't want to be – you know – having a problem, especially with the kids and all…I'd left Joe a message and he must have tried to call me back."
But with nothing to build on, trying to concoct a plausible story seems like a real long shot. Besides, I hate lying. The minute you lie to someone, you become emotionally involved with them, and I don't want to get involved with either one of these people.
She continues to harangue me without seeming to draw breath, bouncing back and for the between demands for my identity and telling me what a low-life piece of scum her beloved boyfriend is. After about sixty seconds she notices that I've stopped speaking.
Caller: Hello? Hello?
I say nothing.
Caller: I know you're there! Tell me who this is!
I still say nothing. It seems like the best solution. If I hang up, she'll just call back. I could let it go to voicemail, but that'll give her more information than I want her to have – like my name, for starters.
This woman sounds rather young - not as savvy as other suspicious lovers who've called me. I remember one woman who called and asked, "Do you do incall or outcall?"
Her flat, hard tone of voice tipped me off. "I'm afraid I don't know what you're talking about."
She wasn't fooled. "I know what you are. If I find your phone number on my phone bill again, I'll call the police and report you."
Report me for what? I thought. Being attractive to your partner? Lady, if you think the police don't know about me, you're crazy. They know about everybody. We have ads in the paper, for god's sake.
It's not that I can't feel some sympathy for a woman who, underneath the bluster, is scared. I do. But I don't break up couples. None of my clients who have wives/girlfriends has ever left their partner for me, and none ever will, because I wouldn't allow any of them to become emotionally involved with me to the extent where that would seem like a reasonable idea. I am not the problem in someone else's relationship, and I'm not willing to take the blame for someone else's fears, be they based on reality or imagination. If you're angry with your lover, yell at him, not me.
Are they cheating? Is it infidelity even if one doesn't have sex? I don't know. I know these boys are keeping their time with me a secret. They tell me their partners don't share their interest in BDSM, but they feel it's better to stay in the relationship, and satisfy their desire for kink elsewhere. I'm polyamorous, so I understand that while their partners don't fulfill this particular need, that doesn't mean they don't love them and want to be with them. I wish they felt they could be honest, but I have to respect their choices regardless. Who am I to judge? I haven't been hitched to someone for twenty-plus years, with kids and a mortgage and 401K and a shitload of shared history, both good and bad. I have no idea what I'd do in their circumstances. I'll leave the slick superficial snap-judgments to Dr. Phil.
This caller, though, is sounding more like a candidate for Jerry Springer. I lay the phone down on my desk and listen as her voice, rendered tolerable by distance, clicks and hisses on. Gradually it stops. The display switches from "End" to "Menu", indicating she's hung up. I wait to see if she'll call back.
She doesn't. Thank god. I pick up the phone and save the number into my phone book as: IRATEGF.
But the phone beeps admonishingly at me.
"IRATEGF" ALREADY EXISTS. REPLACE?
Christ. Okay, let's try IRATEGF2.
If only it were just that easy.