Thursday, March 4, 2010

How to Turn Down a Client

Thursday, March 4, 2010

So, have I ever just said no?

Well, not exactly. My agent screens all potential clients, and should she deem someone unsuitable for me to see, she simply won't bother replying to their message. Perhaps she has some sort of canned response that I'm fully-booked and therefore unavailable. I'm really not sure.

Understand that this non-response tactic is only to those emails that are so bizarre that she thinks replying to this person in any shape or form would somehow encourage them to keep writing. Much as my agent loves making money, she knows that without using proper discretion, her girls (and one guy) could leave for a rival agency.

Even with these precautions, however, sometimes crazies can slip through the cracks. Allow me to tell you a story about a time I simply had to walk away.

The woman wasn't obese or smelly or 95 years old. And even though her spray tan made her look like a tangerine, I could get past it. What made me really uneasy was the fact that she was stone-cold drunk the moment I arrived. There were small liquor bottles all over the bed in the hotel room, and I honestly thought she would pass out at any moment.

It wasn't until I saw a bottle of prescription drugs that I told her I had to go. The last thing I wanted to have happen was her pass out during sex, or begin vomiting, or any combination of the two. She was a train wreck, plain and simple. And while I'm open to a lot of experiences, train wrecks aren't one of them.

While she excused herself to the bathroom -- her speech so slurred I only understood every other word -- I called the front desk downstairs. I wasn't familiar with the staff at this hotel, but they knew damn well what I was and what I was arriving to do. 

"She's a mess," I said. "Liquor, prescription drugs... I don't know if this is a suicide attempt or what, but you need to send someone up here."

"Is she still conscious?"

"Yeah, she's in the bathroom. Actually..." I paused a moment as I heard her vomit into the toilet bowl. "Okay, she's puking it all up now. Still, I think you should call someone."

"Her husband is coming back in a few hours..."

"I don't think we should wait that long. Call an ambulance now."

I waited until the EMTs arrived. When they opened the bathroom door, the client was still conscious -- barely. They strapped her to the stretcher and took her down the elevator to the emergency room. I believe one of them said she was dehydrated, while another mumbled something about a suicide attempt.

"Looks like one to me," I added.

"Who are you anyway?" the EMT asked.

"I... This is actually embarrassing. I was supposed to meet her husband here, but the location of the meeting was changed. I guess that's his way of letting me know I won't be needed."

The EMT seemed to buy the fact that I was on-business, which wasn't entirely inaccurate. After they disappeared into the elevator, I leaned against the wall of the hotel room in a stunned silence. I stood there, almost dumbfounded, until I shook myself out of it. I then called my agent and filled her in. She was damn near hysterical.

"Relax," I said. "The EMTs have her and she's on her way to the hospital. Still, I'm not sticking around."

"No, don't," my agent said. "You did what needed to be done."

It wasn't until later that I realized I still had the client's money. Seeing how she was strapped onto a gurney, it wasn't like I could hand it back -- and I would have. Alas, I never heard from the client again. No, she isn't dead, but according to the hotel staff, she was treated for alcohol poisoning and then returned home. She never contacted my agent again, either.

If this experience taught me anything, it's that I'm not really at-risk on this job. At least not in terms of being on the receiving end of any physical arm. However, there still exists the possibility that my client will have her own issues. And if I'm the only one around, it's up to me to do something.

I'll never know why that woman did what she did when I was on my way. Was it a cry for help? Did she want me to find her like that? What did she expect me to do? To me, there was no question: I was calling for help and making sure she got it. No ifs ands or butts.

I arrived at the hotel expecting to sleep with a woman. Instead, I very well may have saved her life.

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