Sunday, January 30, 2011

The Value of Time

I regularly get requests to spend time and attention outside the phones, with no compensation. I think all sex workers do. The requests seem to have a few common flavors:
  • Fetish Check/Scene Set-Up: I want to make sure you can do my thing
  • Anxiety: I want to make sure you won't bite
  • Flattery: You seem too good to be true, so could you respond so I know I didn't dream you up?
  • Familiarity: I need to get to know you first
  • Cash-strapped: I don't have money yet, but I'll make it up to you when I do
  • Checking In: I'm an existing repeat customer and want to connect a bit between calls
Here's the advantage I have over people who were not technical consultants for 14 years: I know that it's not just sex workers who get requests like this. I thoroughly understand why consulting companies have full-time sales people: because sometimes it is worth the time to spend some up-front time with a potential customer, but you want to protect your billable people from spending non-billable time in sales cycles where possible.

However, in the one-woman operation that is Galiana Chance Phone Sex Industries, I have no sales staff. It's just me. So my work time is either spent on delivering billable time (phone sex: guaranteed pay), creating product for sale (pay-to-view content: almost guaranteed to pay over time), marketing (blogging or tweeting or sending follow-up notes: proven to pay over time), or doing sales activities (talking with potential customers: risky and might not pay at all).

I feel like a lawyer, or a one-person specialized consultant. Yes, I understand that sometimes, a few pre-first-call exchanges are required in order to obtain a customer who will be valuable over the long term. But I also have to decide when it is not worth my time.

Fetish Check/Scene Set-up: YES (One free round)
I totally understand callers with unusual requests who want to confirm my ability to provide for them. If you need something complicated, and you've been turned down, ignored, or under-serviced by other providers, you probably have a template introductory email which explains your fantasy, honed over years of hit-and-miss set-up attempts.

Or along the same vein, I don't specify my limits on my listings, because I don't want unsexy things there (also, I don't want to accidentally show up in search results for "scat" or "gore"...). So I encourage inquiry emails from those who have edgy requests.

I hope I'm being perfectly clear: I want to see those types of emails, and have a chance to respond to them. I don't want someone else to decide what my limits or interests are if they have not been specified. I think a call-and-response specific to your individual fantasy is absolutely justified. I have enjoyed calls which resulted from a fetish check, and also I have been relieved at calls which were successfully avoided because of being willing to do a round of "let's check in first".

The same goes for existing customers who want to set up a scene for the next time we talk. Yes, absolutely, write it up and send it to me, and I'll be happy to confirm or ask one round of clarifying questions, and then we will both enjoy the experience together.

Anxiety: YES (One free round)
I understand shyness and having to overcome feelings of being socially awkward. My husband has introverted tendencies, and probably 20% of the hundreds of technical professionals I have worked with would test positive for varying attributes on the spectra of autism, attention deficiency, or obsession and compulsiveness. I get it that a little encouragement is sometimes required to muster the courage, and I love providing that. I don't bite (unless requested to do so...).

(Side note: my husband is in a Jonathan Coulton mood today, and "Skullcrusher Mountain" just came on while I was typing that paragraph -- how awesome is my life? In a related side note, my new life goal is to recover from my vertigo enough to be on his next cruise. In another related side note, amusing and clever jeans-wearing singers with guitars and scruffy beards and shaggy hair are totally my type - the one concert of his I've seen was one of my happiest experiences ever while participating in an artistic event. Mmmmm. JoCo.)

Where was I? Oh, yes, the difference between "time I'm happy to spend" and "time I'm unwilling to spend" for free.

Flattery: YES (One free round)
I admit it, I'm a sucker for someone telling me how sexy I am, how much they enjoy my blog, and how much they're looking forward to calling me. I will engage for a free round of back-and-forth emails to stroke my ego. It's an ugly truth, but it is truth nonetheless.

Familiarity: MAYBE (One free round)
If someone tells me that they need to get to know someone before engaging them in phone sex, warning bells go off for me. What I don't want to encourage is the concept that "I should only pay for your time if I am getting off." No. That's not true.

If my time is devoted to you, then I cannot devote it to anything else in that moment, and therefore, you should pay me for it. If you choose to use my time and attention to get to know me better, and for me to get to know you better, then you are receiving entertainment value from my time, even if it is not sexual, but the choice is yours, and the cost to me is the same.

So I typically try to feel out what the person's attitude is, and if I can't correct their perception of the value of my time after one round, I (attempt to politely) decline.

Cash-Strapped: NEVER
Remember Wimpy from Popeye? He regularly said, "I will gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today." However, here's the problem with Wimpy, and people like him: by the time Tuesday rolls around, he has to give up his whole paycheck for things he has already spent, so he has nothing left to follow through on his promise.

I took this bait in my personal life enough times to know not to take it as a phone sex operator, and I never will. The answer is just no. If you don't have the money to spend on entertainment, then please enjoy the big wide wonderful world of free entertainment on your own without involving me.

Checking In: YES (One free round, or more if I feel like it that day)
If you're a regular caller of mine, someone I have spent hours with over time, and you drop me a note now and then to say howdy, or to set up our next scene, or to tell me that something made you think of me, you bet your ass I'll reply back!

In fact, I kind of love it. Each caller is a human being, and I like the friendly interactions with people who have proven to value my time. The response might not be particularly timely or particularly wordy, but I'll at least acknowledge receipt and appreciation.
 And then very rarely, a kind of perfect friendly situation happens: Sometimes I happen to be available on chat and not working on anything requiring concentration, when a repeat caller pops on and says hi, and every once in a while, those have turned into lovely, friendly, "happy accident" conversations.

But then it's just like chatting with any of my friends -- I might take minutes or hours to respond, or I might drop off unexpectedly altogether, and I don't expect insta-responses or a formal "goodbye" from them, either. It's very catch-as-catch can, with no expectations that it will continue from moment to moment.

When these rare happy-accident chats happen, I keep them strictly friendly (nothing overtly sexual), so I can save my sexual energy and creativity for my next paying caller. After all, they deserve the best! Plus, I wouldn't want to build up a head of steam and then be interrupted by a paid call - grrrr - just say no to that kind of frustration!

Even though I am business-savvy enough to know that sometimes a little free time pays off, I am also aware that some people will try to get something for nothing, and it is my responsibility to protect my time and energy from them.

The good news is, I'm good at saying no, and I'm not afraid to do so. You won't take advantage of me, don't worry, because I won't let you. I'd rather stay a little more open and enjoy a little back-and-forth than bottle myself so tightly that I can never enjoy a happy friendly interchange now and then.

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