I'm Not A Good Sex Worker(Right Now): The Stolen Suitcase, Burnout, and Privilege in Taking Time Off
This is probably going to be a short piece on burnout and what a crappy sex worker I am when I’m burnt out. Seriously, I'm not a good whore at all right now. I told y'all I'd keep it authentic! That includes talking about the times I suck at my job. Well, here goes the story of how a car break in and robbery led to me accepting a ‘fuck this, I’m not seeing any more clients this year’ mentality.
My client and I walked back to my car after a decadent dinner, as I unlocked it I joked, ‘Wow! no one broke in to my car! We’re off to a good start for this evening’. I was excited to give him his belated birthday gift and show him the other goodies I had picked up for our evening. We drove to the hotel and when I pulled up to the valet I went to get my suitcase, it was gone. I began to feel frantic and looked though other spaces in my car. Then I noticed where my soft top had been cut open. My heart dropped and I felt light-headed. It’s probably not super hot to admit this, but I am absolutely not a ‘go with the flow’ type of person I’m actually super type A. I’m also neurodivergent and my specific flavor of neurodivergent likes things to be the way I expect them to be. This unexpected hiccup was not at all how I expected anything to be. Now, I didn’t have clothes to change into for the rest of our planned outing! No pajamas to sleep in, lingerie to entice my client with, toiletries (like toothbrush, toothpaste, contact lens solution!), items for safe play and entertainment, clothes for the next day, makeup, shoes.. How the hell does someone do an overnight like this? Maybe if I was 20 I could hack it, but y'all I am a seasoned sex worker. This was not it! It wasn't anyone's fault - though perhaps it was my own because who leaves a suitcase in their car when San Francisco is infamous for car break ins?! Ultimately as someone who vehemently abhors hyper-capitalism I get it, shit happens. If folks are stealing, while I don’t support it from a moral standpoint (hello, steal from big corporations not individuals!) I imagine they’re struggling and need to hustle.
I stood in front of the hotel ears ringing, heart rate quickening, and anxiety skyrocketing as I imagined trying to navigate a 14-16 hour date without anything, but the clothes I was wearing. To be clear this is a really wonderful client who I enjoy spending time with, but this isn’t a situation I’d ever do well with work related or otherwise. I was starting to panic. In this moment my friend who was joining us for the evening arrived. She offered to have me to stop by her apartment which was nearby in order to grab some clothes and toiletries for the night. It was sweet of her. but she’s very petite so my odds of that working in my favor were slim. I shared that we should just have fun and enjoy the night. I tried to compose myself once we got into the room. I couldn’t. I told my client I didn’t think I could stay the night and offered to give back some of the money as he had paid for an overnight. He shared that there was no need to give him money back and that he felt bad. I couldn’t get myself out of a funk y’all I was struggling. I mostly kept thinking about my upcoming plans to stay in northern California later in the week. I was going to help take care of my grandmother. She needs help cleaning her home, organizing, clothes/computer/bedding/phone replaced, and groceries bought. Over half my overnight money was allotted for that. I kept trying to rework my budget knowing what had been stolen would take me out a couple thousand. I thought of how often my budget wasn’t just for me but for my elders I help caretake and for my family back in Latin America. I felt stressed. The pit in my stomach continued to grow. I tried to remain playful and affectionate. At this point in the date I knew I wasn’t doing a very good job. I wanted to sink away into a hole and remain hidden for days. But instead I laughed, had drinks, talked. I did my best. Whoever hasn't had to do sex work doesn't likely understand how hard it is to set a sexual mood when you're on the brink of a panic attack - it isn't fun.
I didn’t stay the entire night I left around 1:30am, so what was meant to be at least a 14 hour date had been about a 8 hour date. I’d never ended a date early before. I felt pretty crummy at this point. I went home to my partner and cried. I cried from exhaustion and injustice. I cried from the weight of being a first generation US born woman who has to navigate building wealth from nothing while taking care of several other people. I cried from frustration. I cried out of guilt for not doing a good job for a client who deserved my best energy. I cried from burnout. I cried until my eyes were puffy. Then I ate pizza on my kitchen floor. My partner stroked my hair and kissed my forehead then looked at me, ‘I’ve never said this before and I don’t say it lightly, but I think its time you take a break.’ I buried my head in her lap which was wet from my tears.
‘I think you’re right.’
I pride myself on doing excellent work and showing up for my clients, that evening I couldn’t. I’m taking it as a sign that I need to take a break. I’ve been burnt out on sex work for the last year. If I’m being honest it’s probably been a bit longer than that, but time has become a bit difficult to track, I’m sure some of you can relate. Out of a multitude of inquiries from potential new suitors I only accepted two in the last year. The bulk of my work has been with regulars who I have known over the years. I’ve been honest with you all. I no longer had the space to hustle, deal with clients who don’t align with my energy, and I don’t often have time to accommodate dates into my schedule. It might be important to share that my other career is emotionally taxing in a heavy way and while I love that work more than anything, doing that work through the pandemic also took me out. I finished graduate school in December 2020 and in January 2021 I hit the ground running by working 70-80 hour weeks in a predominantly white field. I was treated poorly, tokenized for being a queer Spanish speaking Latina, and underpaid. Half the time I wasn’t even given time to use the washroom. It was a pretty dehumanizing experience. I’d frequently find myself scoffing at the fact that people thought sex work was the most dehumanizing job while I had to fight to get time to pee at just $30/hr because this is the path I have to take to get to where I need to be in my vanilla career (a whole issue of exploitation in my field, but that rant is for another day). In 1.5-2 years I will be making more money than I ever have. I hold onto that hope and look forward to that. But this path has me burnt out. Last month I quit the job where I wasn’t being treated well leaving me to work about 30 hours a week with my vanilla career. I thought a month that would be enough recovery time to get back to overnights and more sex work clients. It wasn’t.
I’m saddened it took something like this for me to realize I need more time to recover and align my energy. I’m even more saddened it involved giving a wonderful client a half-assed session. Admittedly, I have a long history of hustling myself into the ground because I’m so used to being in survival mode. Taking a break is not always an option and now that it is for me I've had to learn when to listen and allow myself to take space to pause. As I search the internet to replace the items that were stolen I feel grateful to have the privilege to take a break. It is a privilege not all sex workers have. A privilege I myself didn’t have most of my life until recently. Alongside that privilege I hold gratitude that I have the wisdom to accept when I need a break before having a full on meltdown worthy of psychiatric hospitalization. I’m trying my hardest to pull myself out of survival mode now that I’ve survived and hustled my way into more privilege, but my nervous system hasn’t quite gotten the memo yet.
That being said my nervous system and I will be taking a break from seeing clients for the rest of 2021. I’ll keep writing, sharing ass pics, and occasional hot takes so I'll be around...I just won't be 'avail'.