So, I accidentally managed to get slightly trafficked last week. I say slightly because I wasn’t TRAFFICKED trafficked–I got out with life, limb, self-respect, and virtue (or whatever shreds of virtue I have left) intact–but my experience definitely verged in the direction of a cautionary tale for all young ladies of the evening.
It all started when, annoyed with the hassle of independence, I decided a paycation in Florida wouldn’t be a bad idea. My friend Severine, who’d also recently quit Dolorous Delights, had gotten in touch with a gentleman who claimed to be a producer of fetish videos down there, and we figured we could have some fun in the sun and make some money while we were at it. What could go wrong?
Eric, the supposed video producer, had us sign a few contracts, then pitched us a couple of video ideas, it was mostly classic corporal stuff and seemed relatively easy, fun, and profitable. I told him I’d head down there for a few days, see how it went, and maybe stay as long as a week if I liked the way his operation was run. When he agreed to reimburse me for my ticket, I decided to go for it, and booked a flight to America’s Penis: the land of alligators and face eaters. I would fly into Miami in two days time.
I was excited! I was going to be a real porn star, but without the publicity; Eric claimed he only made videos for private collectors.
On the morning that I was supposed to leave, the temptation to just shut off my alarm and go back to sleep was overwhelming, but last minute tickets from Chicago to Florida are expensive and I had signed a contract. I might as well head down there, right?
I had just gotten through security at O’Hare, when Severine, who had arrived slightly before me, texted me to say that something didn’t seem right. I was a bit concerned, but I had already gotten through the ordeal of body scanners and shoe removal and I certainly wasn’t going to leave one of my two best friends alone in a strange state, caught in a situation that was starting to look shadier than expected. So I got on my first plane, turned off my phone, and tried to remember that cabin pressurization would NOT make my head explode, no matter how much it felt like it.
When I landed in Philadelphia for a short layover, I turned my phone back on to find a slew of text messages from Severine. Apparently things were not only not what they seemed, they were actually very, very bad.
“You’ll be reimbursed for your ticket” actually meant, “You’ll work until the cost of your ticket is covered,” and “working” meant escorting for $90 an hour after house cuts and driver fees. I hadn’t even gotten there and Severine was already trying to get home. The “beautiful model home” we had been told we were staying in was indeed beautiful from the outside, but once the door opened, it was maintained in a manner that made some squats look luxurious and clean. My concern grew, but I was already in Philadelphia with no way to get home, so I got on my next plane.
When I landed in Miami, Eric met me at the airport. The minute I saw him I knew things were terribly wrong. I try not to judge people on their outward appearances, but an old man who meets his new employee in a filthy football jersey is not likely to be a reputable employer. When that same employer tries to turn a handshake into a kiss on the cheek, you know something is truly wrong. I was already disgusted, but when Eric opened the door to his white minivan (warning sign number two), I was greeted by a smell of dog and stale cigarette smoke. The floor was covered in empty cigarette packs and assorted trash, mostly consisting of fast food wrappers and cups. I was appalled, but at that point I didn’t really have any choice but to get in the car and hope for the best.
The drive to the model home was tedious, to say the least. Sitting in the passenger seat of a filthy car while some creep tells me about the local scenery is not my idea of a good time. When that local scenery consists mainly of enormous car dealerships, I become even less enthused. I’d already resolved to behave as much like an ice queen as possible, and I wasn’t finding that to be very difficult. Hopefully Eric would find me so insufferable that he wouldn’t object to sending me home early
When we got to the model home, I saw that if anything, Severine had been understating the degree to which it was trashed. There was nothing but broken children’s toys and furniture, stained carpet, and the reek of stale cigarette smoke trapped in nylon fibers. When I heard “model home” I’d pictured Sudden Valley, the Bluth family, and zany adventures. Sure, the model home in Arrested Development is famously shoddy, but this was just disgusting! Things were not off to a good start.
When I got to the room Severine and I were supposed to share, I was as happy to see her as I was distressed at the poor condition of our sleeping quarters. There was a big bed in the middle of the floor, so big it almost completely filled the tiny room. The headboard had either never need attached to the bed or had been removed at some point and sat to the side of the bed, functioning as a sort of crappy dresser or vanity.
We hugged, and she immediately started telling me about all the awful things she had seen that day. It looked as if there had never been any plans for video work and that we had been lied to on a pretty massive scale. We agreed to see what happened at the office tomorrow, but to do our level best to make it home sooner, rather than later.