Hey all! Happy New Year! Hope 2015 is treating y’all well. It’s brought some huge changes for little ol’ me. Some of you know what I’m talking about; some of you don’t. Don’t worry, I’m fine and nothing terrible has happened. It’s ultimately a good (actually, awesome and amazing) thing, but it’s going to be to be an exciting, hectic, difficult, and scary few months…wish me luck?
Anyway, let’s get to the topic at hand. I was going through my email inbox (which I’m pitifully behind on, by the way…sorry, y’all), and I discovered a message I hadn’t previously noticed. I feel pretty bad for answering it so late, but better late than never, right?
…You know, I should really do an advice column. I get so many emails from curious readers, and I genuinely do enjoy answering them (when I have the time). Maybe that should be one of my new projects for 2015?
Here’s the email (sensitive details removed):
I’ve just read your three part blog series concerning the various reference methods you employ for clients. Very informative and helpful I might add. My situation is a bit unique and I wanted to get your take for my best course of action.
Specifically, I’m a newbie with no references to speak of. I am also (**insert profession or organization here**) holding an extremely sensitive position. With that being said, I am very hesitant about providing anything work related, to even include my email address […] Same goes for the data verification websites, as from what I gather, require the same work related information.
So therein lies my quandary; how do I prove that I’m a respectable and trustworthy person, while at the same time protect my work identity? Is there a way to do so without providing work information, or providing it, but without a digital breadcrumb trail? Or am I screwed in the sense that I will never be able to enjoy the company of a professional companion due to my unique circumstances? Just wanted to get your perspective and recommendation on this, as I know you’re very experienced and knowledgeable in this area.
Lastly, I want to close by saying that I completely understand the thoroughness of the verification process. To be honest with you, when searching for my first potential provider, I avoid those who don’t utilize such a process.
I’m fully aware you’re a very busy woman but any recommendation no matter how long or short would very much be appreciated.
Well then, “John,” here’s my answer:
First of all, I’m glad to hear that, in your search for a professional companion, you’re considering her screening requirements a requirement of your own. That’s smart. And I can’t really vouch for what the screening sites (like P411, or the ever-terrible and most certainly NOT recommended Date-Check) require, as I’ve never been a client applying for membership to those sites. But to answer your question…
Honestly, your situation is gonna be difficult. It will require extra effort and/or money on your part.
Here are the options I can think of (and that I’ve used in the past):
- You could offer to meet the lady in a public place for an in-person screening. This would require you both to show up at a public place (think coffee shop, bookstore, etc.), and for you to bring your ID and enough cash to cover her hourly rate (in a gift bag or a birthday card–you’ll be in public, so don’t just had her a wad of bills, obviously). Sit down for a bit, talk with her, and show her your ID. She can look at your ID, look at you, and verify that it’s legit. Then, you can part ways, and she can go home and do her research to make sure you’re not some kind of crazy predator. She can then contact you and schedule a date.
This method sounds extreme, I know. But you have to account for the fact that it’s rather extreme to expect a woman to meet alone with a man she knows literally nothing about–a man who refuses to provide her with any identifying information about himself. Honestly, when a man refuses to tell me who he is, but he wants me to meet with him alone, I think “What’s he trying to hide?”
Perhaps there are girls who, upon meeting up with you, would feel comfortable enough to proceed with a date immediately (before returning home to research you and verify that you’re not a predator), but you shouldn’t go into the meeting expecting that.
I used this method once with a client who was involved in politics. It worked well for us.
- You could go to the source: ask the lady you’re interested in meeting with what you can do to make her comfortable meeting with you. You don’t have to agree to whatever she suggests, of course. But you should listen respectfully before you accept or decline her offer. Remember that the objective here is for her to ensure her own safety. After all, if she feels she’s wandered into a potentially dangerous situation, the date won’t be enjoyable for either of you.
- Set up a fake email account and “persona.” Join a message board like TER or ECCIE. Start contacting providers that way. There may be a provider on there who is (unfortunately) lax about screening. See her. Be nice, be generous, have fun. Hope that her recommendation carries weight with other providers. Hope that, when you use her as a reference and another provider contacts her to make sure you’re cool, she actually responds in a timely manner with a message that says “yes, John’s a safe, fun, great guy.” Hope that the girl trusts her and meets with you. See her. Be nice, be generous, have fun. Lather, rinse, repeat.
Build up a list of references that way.
There are problems with this option.
First, you’ll have to set up a profile on a “hobby board.” If you’re afraid of leaving evidence of your newfound entertainment options/leisure activities, this is pretty much the worst thing a snooping partner/boss/child could find. Seriously. Some of the people on those boards are pretty vile, and no one’s beating around the bush (pun intended) as far as subject matter.
Secondly, you should know that many, many girls do not see guys based solely on references. The reference system requires us to trust each other. We’re basically on the honor system, and we’re relying on each other to be honest, charitable, and timely.
That sounds easy enough, but you have to understand that, if Suzie emails Nancy to ask if Dick is an OK guy, Nancy has to stop what she’s doing, figure out who Dick is, try to remember if he was cool or not, and then compose an email vouching for him.
The only person who receives an immediate benefit from the exchange is Suzie, who, presumably, now feels safe enough to meet Dick for an hour and leave a few hundred bucks richer. Yay, Suzie! Yay, Dick!!
But what about Nancy?
Nancy has lost anywhere from 2 to 20 minutes of her time (depending on how good her memory is, whether she has a smartphone with internet access, how fast/accurate she can type, etc.). And what has Nancy won? A warm, fuzzy feeling in her heart, because she knows she helped another provider do two things: 1) make an informed decision, and 2) pay her rent.
But not everyone is motivated by a sense of decency/ethics/responsibility/warm, fuzzy feelings.
Some people are lazy. They’ll say, “What’s in it for me?” And they won’t bother answering.
Some will say, “I sincerely don’t remember Dick, sorry.”
And unfortunately, some will say, “Why is Dick trying to schedule a date with the competition? I should call him and offer him a $50 discount to meet with me instead.”
Still others will say, “Oh, I’d better answer that email…oh shit! Darling Offspring, is that peanut butter? Dammit, don’t paint the dog with peanut butter!” And then she’ll spend the next hour cleaning peanut butter out of the hair, ears, and nose of both her child and her dog, and she’ll forget she ever read that email reference request.
So, it’s an imperfect system. Ideally, we all cooperate for the good of the group–an extended community of sex workers whose work can be quite dangerous (due to criminalization and cultural stigma) if we don’t work together to ensure each individual’s safety. But the world is full of real people, not ideal cogs in an ideal machine. And some real people are real assholes.
- There are ways to provide work info without a digital breadcrumb trail. Here’s one of my favorites.
…And that’s all I can think of right now, but I hope it’s helpful…