I sat there dumbfounded in silence as the man on the other end of the phone continued explaining. He assured me this was a group of very sophisticated, elite, and well educated people. However, it did nothing to lessen the blow that I was still reeling from. I had been so excited to receive my second interview with this company. I had responded to their job post on the website. My first phone interview had gone very well. Jenna was her name and she loved my writing. She assured me that her boss would want to speak to me. And then the next day, an email and the second call.
"Hello, this is Robert. Jenna passed along your infomation, and I must say, I think you would be a great fit for us." I sat taller in my seat, despite the fact he wouldn't be able to see that through the cell phone. He started with the usual job description, expectations, how the contract would work, payment, and there would be some training. It was pretty common stuff. I had done freelance work before, and there was nothing surprising. Not yet. However, he continued on about the proxy servers over seas that they used to publish the 'blogs'. The company would not follow up on the money. If I wanted to claim the income on my taxes or not, Robert said that would be entirely up to me.
"Also, Michelle, we give substantial bonuses for increased productivity. If our client is happy, we like to show our gratitude to the contractor that made that happen. You see, we are in the business of developing relationships. A deep connection. You would be involved in answering email, blogging, and handling forum posts that will be romantic in nature. We would give you three to six personas that you would be in charge of developing and maintaining personal ties with. We have several contractors all over the world working for us. However, to be honest, we are looking for more female writers. We are a small company that is mostly older and male. I think you would add a fresh perspective to things." He added he had retired early from IT with a large international company. Some of his buddies had joined him and they started their new "work" a few years ago.
"May I ask a question?" I interrupted. I had a million running through my mind. I wanted to ask what the hell was going on, but that would not have been professional. Instead I managed to blurt out the compromise,"What type of online community is this? Where do these relationships exist?"
"Oh, no problem. The personas you would be given would all be female. Our clients are very high end escort services. Several of which are international. Also, glad to see that you speak other langauges, a huge plus in your favor. You wuld be maintaining the profile and emails of certain escorts. We have clients all over including Russia and China. But don't worry, what happens is you build the realtionship with the clients through these profiles. However, when the time comes they want to meet, the actual girl goes to the appointment."
"How would she even know what to talk about?" I asked out of shocked curiosity.
"You would send her a cheat sheet with notes. She looks over and studies it. These girls are very well educated with a discreet clientele. Extremely professional." His words continued to trail as he spoke about there would be a "report" filed after the encounter with me. I, or rather the person handling the persona, would use it in a "thank you" response. The goal was to keep up with this relationship. And I can assume, keep up the profit.
So here I was... gobsmacked. No, I am not naive. I know things occur, and the internet is a place beyond comprehension. Nor am I going to wade into the muddy turbulent water of ethics involved in this business. However, I did have to ponder this: someone thought I would make a great ghostwriting prostitute. As I sit down to write a reply to turn down the job, I'm still not sure if that is an insult or a compliment. If nothing else, it is sure one hell of a story.