Tuesday, December 29, 2009

A post inspired by a brief conversation with a friend: why you should not write client data down.

I have known sex workers who kept records. Nice, tidy, accurate records of who they saw every day, a few words about the personality and hobbies of the guy, to facilitate small talk, and then some notes about what he liked sexually, and if/how much he tipped. It often looks something like this:

12/ 01/09 John Smith: nice guy, heavyset, likes football. Lots of oral, reverse cowgirl, likes his nipples played with, tends to be noisy so make sure windows are closed. Usually tips $50. Phone xxx-xxxx, email Johnsmith@blah.com

This is a terrible, terrible idea. Do not do this, ever. Why? Let me count the ways this can go wrong.

Bad scenario number one: a nice person gets a hold of your little book of records*. Your roommate’s lover, the plumber, the landlord, your mother. Do you really want them to see a record of all the people you’ve had sex with for money, and what you’ve done with them? That’s going to lead to some very awkward conversations, at best.

Bad scenario number two: a bad person gets a hold of your records. (See: your roommate’s lover, the plumber, the landlord. Hopefully not your mother.) Hmm, I have no scruples and I’m holding a bunch of information rich in blackmail potential. Or at the very least: embarrassing, privacy-violating scandal. Remember the Jason Fortuny flap on Craigslist? That sort of thing.

Bad scenario number three: you get arrested and law enforcement finds your records. I’m not a lawyer, and this is not legal advice. But my layperson’s opinion is: that’s a bad thing to happen. That seems like fairly damning evidence against you. Plus, you’ve potentially incriminated all your clients.

Bad scenario number four: you get arrested, law enforcement finds your records, your smart attorney succeeds in getting it ruled inadmissible to your case, but – the police turn it over to the IRS. And the IRS says, “According to these records, you made fifty thousand dollars last year. But you only reported thirty thousand dollars. We’re going after you for tax evasion.” This precise series of events happened to a woman that I once knew. The result wasn’t pretty. This is why in addition to not keeping records about my clients, I pay those taxes. Oh Lordy, yes I do.

I have seen people keep notes they thought were very cryptic.

12/ 01/09 John S. Nice. Football. Lots O. Rev C. Shut windows! One star.

That might help you in the first two situations, although you still have to come up with some reasonable explanation for your mother as to what the records are. If you don’t keep contact info, I suppose the blackmail/scandal possibility is contained. But it is my impression that those records might still be used against you legally. If you know what you’re looking for, most “codes” are not particularly hard to figure out.

Of course, you could write something like this:

12/ 01/09 John Smith. Dogs barking, can't fly without umbrella. Mary had a little lamb. All your base are belong to us.

And then in three months, when John Smith calls you for another date, you’re going to look back at that and think, “What the hell does that mean?”

Yes, it would be nice if one could check one’s notes and see that John Smith loves the Green Bay Packers, always tends to run about ten minutes late, and likes a finger in his ass. But this is one of those little challenges to life as a sexual outlaw. If this stuff was easy, everyone would do it. You’re going to have to train your memory instead.

*Or whatever electronic equivalent of a Little Black Book you're using. And do not talk about password-protected to me. That will help avoid innocent accidents, but a clever and determined sixth-grader can get around many passwords.

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