Once upon a time, (or Monday night, technically), I sent a writer out to get some Exit Polls for this week’s issue. The chaos that ensues is quite possibly the craziest/worst/most epic thing that’s ever happened. I’ll give you Ben Gray’s harried tale unedited, and frankly, I don’t think any other installment of The Morning After will top it.
I received the following text from Ben on Monday night:
Ben: Hil, I have something very bizarre to share for The Morning After but it’ll take too long to share in text form. Involves Chinese prostitutes.
From Ben, sent to me early Tuesday morning:
“Here goes a story of miscommunication, confusion, and being generally too flustered to act
5pm: I receive text from Hilary asking whether I can do Exit Polls today.
5:15pm: I text my friends (including my friend Anya), asking what they are doing tonight, if they’d like to come over for a bit (subtext being that we will head out afterwards).
6pm: All my friends respond that they are busy. Anya responds she is working until 11:30. Anya works at a hospital, so this is not particularly unusual.
7:30pm: Phone Call #1.
I receive a phone call from Anya’s Google Voice number. I answer. The voice on the other end is female, approximately Anya’s register, doing an atrocious, grossly stereotypical, and damn-near-unintelligible Chinese accent. I only understand a portion of what we are saying.
“Hello!” she says. “Do you need someone to service you?”
Naturally, I assume that Anya (Anya having a long, long history of mischief anyway) is doing an offensive Chinese prostitute impression. I mean, for God’s sake, it’s her phone number, and really, “Someone to service you?” Though somewhat shocked by the performance, I know better than to bother talking sense into Anya. Instead, I try to play along. What follows is a 15 minute conversation, only a quarter of which I understand, in which I find myself agreeing that I would like to see (someone) tonight, and that she should come right over.
“I’ll see you in… one hour? What is your address?” she says.
I provide my address through what I take to be an ironic number of miscommunications and malapropisms, then say:
“Yes, that’s fine, one hour. Unless you would rather have me meet you in the North End.” (That’s where Anya lives.)
“No no, we are in Quincy. But I have no alcohol here.”
“Quincy? What are you doing in Quincy? I mean that’s fine, we can still just go get alcohol someplace else. Especially since I have to do Exit Polls.”
“Quincy is where our office is, sir. Heeheeehee.”
“Ah yes. … I wasn’t aware that you had an office in Quincy. Alright, then, one hour.”
8pm: I text Anya: “So just to be clear, I just agreed to meet you at your house in an hour, right? Like in real life? I thought you had to work?”
9pm: A text from Anya: “What? I’m confused.”
Ben: “Haha, me too”
Ben: “where are you? Are you at [my address]?”
Anya: “I’m at work”
Ben: “ah-ha,” I text, then a minute later, “…wait now I’m confused.”
9:15pm: Phone Call #2.
“Anya”: “Hello, we just want to double-check your address – I cannot get into your building. We are outside.”
“Uh-huh,” I say, changing out of my footie pajamas and into pants (yes, I own footie pajamas. What of it.) I assume that Anya is outside waiting. “I’ll be right down. Give me 5 minutes.”
I go downstairs. No one is at the door. I go back up.
“Would Anya seriously push this so far?” I wonder.
9:20pm: Phone Call #3.
“Anya”: “Hello, we are waiting? Are you coming outside? How long will you be?”
I start to freak out. I put on my coat, walk downstairs. I open the door and see an Asian girl and an older man in a new, black car directly outside my front door.
I pace back and forth. I talk to the woman on the phone.
“Oh my God. This is a bad dream. Uh… something must be wrong?”
“What is wrong? Girl is there, no? What is the problem? We have sent girl and driver?”
I start to walk off down the block in disbelief. Then I return.
“Wait, you’re outside my apartment right now? In a car? What kind of car?”
“Uhhhhh…. it’s… I’m not sure? It’s… a Nissan?”
It IS a Nissan. I think, “Oh my God. You’re fucking kidding me… are these some of Anya’s friends? How elaborate a prank is this?”
“What kind of Nissan?”
“I… don’t know sir. Is there a problem?”
9:30pm: I finally make contact with the people in the car. Neither of them speak english. Girl looks relieved. Looking back, I can only assume this is because I finally showed up, and on top of that, I’m under 50, and I’m not grotesquely overweight. Dude just looks perplexed and annoyed.
The girl smiles at me, climbs out of the car and walks toward my front door. I intercept her.
“Wait, are you looking for Ben?”
She smiles and nods. My phone rings.
“Hello, Ben? Is your girl there? We want to be sure we give you good service.”
“Yes yes… she’s here [Oh my God Oh my God]. Uh… how much do I owe you?”
“Two hundred dollars? [Oh my God] For one hour? Two hours I give you discount.”
“Oh God. Um… well… I don’t have two hundred dollars.” I look out at the annoyed dude in the car. This is one of the many points in which I could have done something much better/cooler than what I did.
“Well… listen. Uh. I have to run to the ATM.”
“Oh, well, the driver can take you.”
“Oh. Uh. Yeah. Uh. I guess that’s fine.”
I get in the car, and provide directions to the nearest well-lit, very public and well-traveled ATM. I go and retrieve $200 while they wait in the car. The driver and prostitute accompany me back to my apartment. All the way I’m having a thousand visions of myself being murdered by Chinese pimps.
“Listen,” I say. “Here’s the money. I don’t need any service. It’s all fine. I’m just going to go upstairs and you can go too. I have absolutely no problem with what’s transpired here.”
Girl, not understanding, starts to get out of the car. I wave my hands frantically and hand my money to the driver, get out of the car and hurry off down the street so I can finally do Exit Polls.
I text Anya again. “We need to talk”
Phone rings. The Chinese prostitute phone operator answers.
“Hello, Ben! I hear you gave some money to driver and just left? Was there a problem? What happened? Do you still need service? Do you need service tonight?”
After a thousand “NO NO NO NO NO NO NO”s I finally get off the phone with the woman.
Anya calls me back. Obviously, she has no idea what’s going on.
I call my friend Dave. Obviously, he has no idea what’s going on.
I call my friend Reinhard. Obviously, he has no idea what’s going on.
Anya finally looks up her Google Voice account. Yes, she has records of herself calling me multiple times that night, which she obviously did not do.
We come to the following conclusion: Through some glitch, Google Voice has double-booked the phone number
they gave Anya with a Chinese escort service. All the texts I intended for Anya were also received by them, including the precipitous “Do you want to come over?” text.
In the end, I ended up bewildered, sitting in a deserted Allston bar having a drink, waiting for someone worth exit polling to show up. I tell my story to the bartender, who gives me a free Ithaca Flower Power. It wasn’t bad, but not
Half my friends tell me that I should have just insisted that I did not order a prostitute and closed the door – not left my house at all. All I can say is that I was too bewildered, too implicated (having spoken to them so many times), and too already-outside to do that.
The other half tell me I should have just had sex with the prostitute.
Dunno. First of all, I wasn’t in the mood. Too freaked out. Plus, it’s not like I’ve ever had sex with a prostitute before, and I’m not particularly trying to start. Call me a prude, but I feel like once you start having sex with prostitutes, let alone Chinese ones who don’t speak English and probably aren’t even as able to determine their own fates as native English-speaking prostitutes, well, I feel like your life starts to change.
So I’d rather not.
Though, looking back, she was surprisingly cute.
Anyway, there you go. That’s where I was tonight. I got a $200 Flower Power in Allston and now there’s a Chinese escort service that has my name, my address,my phone number, and knows that I’m an easy $200 if you get me freaked out. Which, frankly, is something I didn’t know about myself.”
And now we will never make Ben Gray do an Exit Poll ever again. /endscene.