Two years ago I stumbled into a job as a personal assistant at one of those places where they outsource personal assistants over the phone. I'd graduated from art school with a sort of bogus degree and was bouncing from job to job when I responded to an ad on Craigslist. The pay isn't bad and it's steady, and all of my clients are businessmen and women. OK, when I say clients, I mean I'm working for at least 20 different people on 20 different requests on any given day. The requests are all over the place. About a quarter of them are easy, like taking someone's car in for an oil change or booking a flight to Mexico. But the rest are usually very weird and tell me more about my clients' personal lives than I need to know.
What I hope to get: "I need you to find me a new doctor because mine will be retiring soon. Can you ask what their hours are? Also, I'd like it if their office was close to my house."
What I usually get: "I need you to find me a new doctor because I think mine's Mexican. Can you ask them if they're white? Also, I'd like it if their office wasn't located near any Latinos."
So yeah, I do the stuff they don't want to do and I get to provide them with an outlet to express prejudices. I'm usually first to know about a divorce (before the spouse) because I've been asked to find a "guy to change the locks and a goddamned lawyer."
I like bizarre shit, so I was excited to get this one request from an executive planning a business trip in another city. In general, trip requests are boring: find a couple of appropriate restaurants for client meetings, provide a few taxi cab numbers, book the flight there are back, etc. But this one was retarded. I should also mention that all our communication took place through his corporate email, which can be accessed by any of his bosses, HR, or IT guys. Here's the gist of what he wanted me to do:
1. Gather a list of all strip clubs in the downtown area. He suggested I use Google Maps to do this - as if I wouldn't know. Fuck, 99% of my job is Google. The list should not have any less than eight clubs.
2. Call all strip clubs to verify the following information: hours of operation, cost of domestic beer/any drink specials, if they have a dress code that prohibits sweatpants (yes, sweatpants), whether you can touch the dancers/amount of contact you may have with a dancer, average cost of a lap dance, and information on masturbation beds.
3. Chart all information in a Microsoft Excel document with hyperlinks to the respective websites or to customer-written reviews of the clubs and dancers.
I'd like to think I'm pretty well-read in regards to the various ways sex addicts wank off on company time, but Santa Maria, what the fuck is a masturbation bed? There were three ways to find out: ask him (nope), ask everyone in my office, or Google it. People in my office weren't any help since many of them had never been to a strip club, and the only one who had (my boss) had no idea what a masturbation bed was. So I went to Google, both web and images. NOTHING. Can you believe that in all the information on the Internet, all the weird, gross, jerk-off sites out there, I couldn't find a single link to anything that even resembled a masturbation bed? Come on. Eventually, repeated searches of "masturbation + bed" froze my computer and I gave up. When I emailed him to say that I didn't feel comfortable performing this request for him in its entirety, and that I'd be happy to provide him with the addresses for a few strip clubs but that he'd have to search out the details himself, he never emailed me back.
Life is cruel and that shit has been haunting me ever since. Please, if anyone out there knows what the hell this sweatpant-boner-getting guy was referring to, let me know.
(illustrations by Alex Davey)