"By the way, do you know where we can find girls?"
"Yes. The kind you can buy."
"Oh really? Whe- Hey! Hey, don't close the window!"
It's been a while. Things have been kinda crazy around here. I've only worked as much as I've had to in order to scrape by. Cabbing has been the last thing on my mind.
But now I'm back, and tonight, we're going to talk about man and woman, man to man.
Surprisingly often I encounter people, usually middle aged men of means, who will ask me for a ride, and in the second breath ask me to point out the local red-light district. I won't delve too deeply into these experiences, but here's a list of quotes:
"Nah, I don't do street walkers. They stand all night out in the cold. I want to know where I can find warm girls."
"Could you stop at the red light district? I promised my clients a good time."
"The way I see it, it's win-win. She gets money, I get my dick sucked."
And so on. And so forth. To eternity and back. One long row of johns, all hoping that the nice cabby will be so kind to show them where they can stick it. It's fucking loathsome.
As some of you may have gathered, I am not against prostitution itself. The way I see it, if two people mutually agree to exchange money for sex, that is their business. And in an ideal world, that kind of professionalism would render many of the moral questions about sex-work moot. However, we do not live in an ideal world.
Society has a very weird view when it comes to sex workers. Its a weird mish-mash of different perspectives, all thrown together and blended into a freakish whole.
On the one hand, a prostitute is someone to be pitied. You are, because of desperate circumstances, pushed into a profession where you are rendered to nothing more than an animate sex-toy. You're not just selling a sexual service, you're not just selling your body, you're selling your integrity and dignity. You are a victim.
On the other hand, a prostitute is large an in charge. You love sex, you love money, and you've found the perfect way to combine the two. Getting paid to provide somebody's orgasm is not only just another job for you, it is even a source of amusement, even empowerment, since you get to see your clients at their most vulnerable (if you doubt any of this, dear reader, kindly refer to such stories as Game of Thrones, Copper, Fanny Hill, Pretty Woman, etc etc). You are a hero.
On the final hand, a prostitute is something vile. You degrade yourself by selling your body. You are hooked on drugs, or you failed at life in some other way. The only way you can survive is to get naked with someone and submit to the most disgusting things. You are disease-ridden, uneducated, foolish, disgusting. You are desperate for someone to fuck you, because that will allow you to survive. You are trash, a blight on civilisation. You are sub-human.
Bear in mind, I'm not talking about different people with different point of views. I believe that the prevailing view is a mix of all of this. That people who are not particularly engaged in the subject have a point of view that borrows from all three perspectives, and each perspective has different weight depending on that person's background, experience, or current situation.
So, what does this have to do with my line of work?
Well, because I get to see up close how people either pity, idolize or dehumanize prostitutes. I've done it myself. And I can't speak for the prostitutes themselves. I'm sure there are some who have chosen the profession and do not suffer from it, but I do believe they are a minority. I've driven a couple of them, and my collective experience is that those who blatantly are prostitutes also tend to be silent, withdrawn, even cold at times. They do not strike me as happy people.
But far more often than dealing with prostitutes, I deal with their clients. People ask me where they can find girls. People talk in the back-seat about their experiences with them, and how its all so lovely because they get to fuck, and the girls/boys get paid. Both sicken me to no end.
Like always, however, there is a story. And I have driven johns, I have turned away johns. I've argued against sexist bastards. But none hold a candle to the guy I'm about to tell you. And what sickens me the most was that I was a party to his assholishness.
Taxi M has a VIP list. People who have a special deal with the company. They are given a card, and a special number to call. The perk is that they have an easier time getting a car (in theory, but that's another story), and they always ride cheap. And so there's this one guy. Mickey. I've mentioned him before. Now, Mickey is one of our long-time VIP customers. Mickey is short, but big. A man who measures his value in muscle mass and expects other people to do so too. He is a douchebag who will always ask you to turn off the meter, so that he can pay you illegally, netting the cabbie a nice tip and allowing him to get off more cheaply. I've never cared for him. And these days, he is one of few people I actively wish a painful disease on.
It was late, as always, and I got a fare from Whitefield Street, going on to Kings Gate Avenue (the main drag of this city). Turns out it was Mickey. Fine by me. A short ride, and I could do it on autopilot. Nothing I couldn't handle. So I pick him up together with some blonde airhead (and the only reason I call her that is because of what came out of her mouth during the trip, which wasn't of much value to anyone), and we roll.
Now, Whitefield street is in an older neighbourhood, and its kinda high end. But right next to that neighbourhood is Rose Grove, the local red light district. So we drive, while Mickey and Bimbo chat. Or rather, she says astoundingly superficial things and he sniggers (at her, or with her, I do not know). Then we pass through Rose Grove and Mickey gets excited.
"Hah! There go the hookers!"
"What? Seriously???" Bimbo exclaims. "No way!"
At this point I chime in, vaguely sarcastically: "Believe it or not, Rose Grove is the red light district..."
Bimbo: "I didn't see any hookers!"
By now, we had crossed the bridge and were driving up Explosion Hill.
"If you want," I said in a disgusted tone, "I could always turn around so you could have a better look at them."
"Seriously???" Bimbo says.
"Oh man," says Mickey. "do it! Do it now!"
And here is where I did something I still don't know how to justify. Maybe because I was on autopilot. Maybe I wasn't thinking. Maybe I didn't feel like entering a conflict. I don't know. But I turned the car around and drove back to Rose Grove.
And that's where I started hating myself. Mickey and Bimbo were howling with laughter. Pointing and exclaiming how disgusting the prostitutes were, calling them names.
"Are we done here?" I asked.
"Yeah, take us to the avenue."
"I don't understand how anybody would ever sell themselves lke that!" Bimbo cried out.
"You'd never do it?" Mickey said.
"Never! Well..." she fell quiet. "Maybe for 100 000 sek. Hey cabbie!"
I didn't respond.
"Hey cabbie! How much would you pay to fuck me?"
"Are you seriously asking me that?"
"It doesn't matter, you'll never see me again. Would you pay 100 000 if it meant you could fuck me?"
"Lady, I'm in the low-income bracket. Lower your price to 50 and we can talk."
They kept laughing all the way. And I felt sicker by the minute.
To this day, I don't know why I did as he said. I don't know why I didn't throw them out. I don't know why I didn't call them out on their bullshit. And I really don't know why I joined them in their bantering, even if I did it in a mean spirit.
Had they asked me to stop so they could pick up one of the girls, and pay her for sex, I would've had a lot more respect for them. At least then, they would've treated them with, if not dignity, then atleast acknowledgment. But here where these two successful, egocentric fuckheads who used the misfortune of others to assure themselves of their own superiority.
To this day, I refuse to drive Mickey. If he comes up on my screen, I always call out on the radio to ask if someone wants to drive him instead. The boss doesn't like this, but fuck that noise. Sure I didn't hurt anyone, but I not only allowed two fuckstains to gloat at other people's misery, I also helped them do it. I can't ever undo what I did, but I can do better next time.
The day any of my colleagues doesn't take Mickey from me, I will let him enter my car. I will then tell him exactly what I think of him.
If he still wants me to drive him, I'll drive him.
If he doesn't, then that isn't my problem.