Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Sociopaths and Me

Okay, so I know that 'advertises for massage on Craigslist' is code for 'freelance hooker.' That's why I don't advertise on Craigslist. I have still had more than one client who expected, and requested, a hand job; those clients get sent home with a flea in their ear. Usually I can prescreen male prospective clients over the telephone by the simple expedient of asking why they want a massage. If they say, "My back just went out, and my wife recommended you," they get an appointment. If they say, "oh, I just want to relax..." I'm booked up until the year 2020.

But the 'Craigslist killer' still could have gotten me. It is a measure of my extreme naivete that the first thing I thought was, "why would anybody try to rob a massage therapist? We're not known for carrying large sums of cash."

Actually, that was my second thought. My first thought was, "Oh, a pervert who rapes vulnerable self-employed women in hotel rooms and kills them afterward."

What a checkered life I've led.

I don't want to presume a person is guilty until it's been proven. Thus, it's difficult to comment on the interviews with all of the accused's 'friends', who say what a nice guy he is, how he smiles all the time and always says hello. But it struck me that nobody yet has mentioned any concrete good of the guy. Nobody tells the story of working side by side with him at Habitat for Humanity, or recounts how he let them crash at his place for three months when they got laid off, or helped them move at the drop of a hat, or set their broken bone for free.

No, it was all superficial. He smiled, he said hello, he went to parties and asked how you were doing. It struck me that none of the persons interviewed knew him any more deeply than that, and how it hadn't seemed to occur to them that there was any more depth than that.

Two things: one, that many or most sociopaths come across as 'really nice guys.' Sociopaths are expert manipulators. They smile, they say hello, they ask how you are. Why are more people not aware of this?

Two, that our social habits, as a society, don't encourage deep engagement with one another. To the point that most people don't even know what deep engagement is, let alone notice the lack of it.


Chris Rywalt said...

You don't think that social networking software like Facebook is allowing us to engage with more people more deeply than ever before?

Pretty Lady said...

It's certainly allowing us to engage--the depth of the interaction, however, is up to the people. We wouldn't want to come across as weird or anything...

Chris Rywalt said...

I think the depth is more than it was. Not necessarily deep, but deeper, anyway.

Unknown said...

I think that most people put their best face forward on Facebook, with a bit personality. Since Facebook is an online version of "This Is Your Life", I have "friends" from every age, stage and event of my life. I like that part of it because I've reconnected with people I haven't seen on spoken with in years. At the same time, I don't want to share every aspect of myself with these people. It's a little deeper than smiling and saying hi, but not much.

Pretty Lady said...

I find that I have superficial Facebook interactions with my most intimate friends, and more intimate Facebook interactions with my superficial acquaintances. The overall effect is a sort of genial flattening. But since I have a low tolerance for superficial people in general, my experience should not be taken for the average.

Dawn, you are a massage therapist who actually lives in Boston. Were you as freaked out by the Craigslist killer as I was?

Unknown said...

Sorry for the drive by yesterday. I had to get to work. The two Boston hotels where this happened are just blocks from the spa where I work. I'm freaked out inasmuch as these "masseuses" are giving us massage therapists a bad name. Most legit hotel massage is arranged through the hotel concierge who screens the client. Most massage therapists aren't carrying $800 cash when making an outcall. Granted, I wasn't going to make any hotel visits until the guy was caught, but what concerns me are the people whose interest is now peaked and may try something similar.

Pretty Lady said...

these "masseuses" are giving us massage therapists a bad name.Bingo! I was shocked when I moved to NYC and had way more trouble with 'confused' clients than I'd ever had before, despite stating clearly and explicitly that I am a therapeutic massage therapist who does not do sex work. Finally a Swedish Institute grad clued me in--there are licensed massage therapists from his school that work at tony spas in Manhattan, who still provide 'happy endings.' It's all about the money.

One of the many reasons I'm looking to make a career transition.

Chris Rywalt said...

I remember reading somewhere a writer complaining about being at a hotel in Asia and wanting a regular old massage and being unable to get one because everyone he called turned out to be a hooker.

I find this mind-boggling, honestly. You can get handjobs just by calling a masseuse? It's just too weird for me.

Spatula said...

The best sociopath screening tool is getting to know a person and how they behave in a variety of contexts and circumstances.

I learned this the painful way - that having a friendly demeanor or a polite manner can mask Hieronimus Bosch characters who are just good at social camouflage.

In one of Terry Pratchett's books, Monstrous Regiment, there is a passage about two orphan girls who keep getting sent to work in homes and getting abused there. One time, they get sent back and one of them is pregnant, by the pater familias.
Oh, but the pater familias is a good man, a preacher, a pillar of the community! Yes, says wise Terry Pratchett. He seemed like a good man: "because those men are always good at seeming."

kvinnor said...

Good food for thought here. Very nicely written. Really makes think