Recruiting, or once I was a pimp.

Posted on July 5, 2013

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A post from an ally of sex workers exploring the idea sex work is somehow a special class of work.

Sex work is either, according to some, an exceptional experience that is unlike any other, or is another type of work, like lots of other types of work.

I used to be a recruiter.

I used to interview 100 people a week or more, and identify whether they were suitable for entry level clerical and customer service jobs.

It was a mind boggling job.

There were people who came through the door who didn’t have the basic skills to do the job. Oddly, as a private sector organization, we were able to access, in some cases, public sector funds to put such people through training schemes to develop basic skills.

There were people who came through the door who were over-qualified. Sometimes grotesquely over qualified. We had to decide if they were over qualified but otherwise compromised, in which case they might stay, or over-qualified but under-employed, in which case they were a bad bet because they’d soon leave, pushing up our training costs and pushing down our profits.

That’s the management speak out of the way.

Here’s the reality.

A guy turns up for interview. He’s a coded welder; he’s got all the papers to do high quality welding on projects up to nuclear power stations. So why the fuck does he want a job in a call centre? He’s divorcing his wife in Cumbria, be’s living wih his mam in Hebburn and she can’t afford to keep him so he needs a job. Behind the table, we’re calculating whether he’ll find a job as a welder before we make our money back.

Another guy turns up for interview. He’s got a Ph. D. in chemistry. He worked for Proctor and Gamble. He’s been unemployed for six months. He’s why I’m there. The tests and the CV screening say he’s OK. My screening say he’s unemployed because he’s a drunk. He’s going to be a nightmare. My questions are meant to test out whether he’s aware or unaware that he’s a pisshead.  We’d need, if we were precise, ninety seconds. The smell and the the poached egg eyes are a bit of a give away. We give him the full fifteen minutes. It’s not my job to tell him he’s a pisshead, and if we send him out early, we’ll just sit there twiddling our thumbs until the next person comes in.

We have rules, and quality control.  My boss checks the success and failure of my candidates against the other recruiters, and checks my impression of the candidates against the psychological tests. He does the same with all the recruiters.We all get within 3% 0f the mean, or we get sacked, It’s not the most reliable data, but only because we all want to be working somewhere else instead, and will leave before anyone ever manages to work out the long term trends.

I moved on to operational management on contract. I got tired of pimping.  I got to manage some of the people I recruited. I got to deal with the guy who was late because he was arrested for unpaid fines, dating back to his days as a smack addict. I got to manage the women who couldn’t juggle childcare, ex-partners and their mother’s inability to pick the kids up from school because their new partner had been arrested for murder. I got to sort out the woman who flashed her cunt at her colleagues during her shift, and the woman who texted pictures of herself wanking in the bath to a colleague who shared them with all his other male colleagues. Discovering that giving someone oral sex in the toilets could be a disciplinary offence even if no-one else objected was more than enough to make me move on to my current role. And that’s even before I realized that our Friday night social drinking was fun for me, and even sexy sometimes, but destructive for others who hadn’t quite got their head around how much drinking was good, and ow much drinking wasn’t. By the time I was at home sexting a single mum  who did 16 hours a week and fancied a wank some of my staff were puking in alleyways and wishing they had the money for next week’s bus pass instead of having to borrow it off their mam.

I’ve gone on a bit haven’t I?

Imagine the same ideas applied to sex work.  It’s a simple principle. If sex work is work, then even if people are qualified to do the work, they might bring baggage with them that means they will fail at the job. They might not even want the job in the first place, but they’ll prefer it to having no work.  They might have experiences or circumstances that mean that sex work is wrong for them now even it might have been good for them on the past or the future.

Being willing to be fucked for money is not the only qualification to be a sex worker. To be a successful sex worker you need to understand the nature of the work, and why you’ve arrived at that place. Nearly everybody who arrives at that choice will have different reasons for getting there. That’s why different sex workers, and different call centre workers, have different outcomes.