I feel like we're talking more about fears of being trafficked than fears of being murdered, and it's like what happened to being murdered? Welcome to You're Wrong about the show, where I will take any excuse to read to you for a while. You're wrong about the show that is gradually becoming an audio book.
Yes, that's my goal. Yeah, that's one of my insidious plans. I am Michael Hobbs. I am a reporter for the Huffington Post.
I'm Sarah Marshall and working on a book about the Satanic Panic.
And if you want to watch the show, we're on Patrón at Patrón dot com slash. You're wrong about. And we have a slight announcement this week. Yes, I have another podcast. I have a sister podcast. You have a child. It's basically you're wrong about for fitness and health myths.
And it's me and one of my favorite Internet people, your fat friend, who many of you are probably already following on Twitter and Instagram. She is delightful and the show is called Maintenance Phase, and you can find it wherever podcasts live.
I think that we should start a podcast distribution platform called Wherever, because they've got free advertising on every other podcast. But I'm so excited about this show. I feel like this is is kind of a long term obsession of yours. Yes. And like this is a side plant that grew off of some of the research that you did initially as part of this show, and that wanted to have a of sound like a strawberry.
So we've already released our first kind of like an intro episode of sort of who we are and where we're at. And then every week we're going to bust a health myth. We're going to talk about the Atkins diet. We're going to talk about fenthion. We're going to talk about moon juice, these sort of like smoothies that are being distributed through the Gwyneth Paltrow verse. Yeah. So our first episode is on the president's physical fitness test, and it comes out this week.
Stay tuned for not very much time. Don't worry. Yes, you'll be getting a surprise soon. But what are we talking about today? We are talking about a completely different thing, the creepy encounters, Subrata, which I have become fascinated by. And we originally recorded this as a bonus episode for our patrons. And then basically we had another episode that I was working on that we were supposed to put out this week, and I was really unhappy with it and it just wasn't good yet.
So we're giving you the fun one. We hope you want the fun one. If you don't want to find one, then I don't know what to tell you. Yes. And Mike, we should talk about what Reddit is for just a second. And like, why did I start frantically texting you all these things to the point where we decided we had to talk about them?
So I'm actually not a big Reddit guy, but my understanding is that Reddit is there's groups according to interest. So there's like an American doll group and there's a like I live in Wisconsin group and people post either links that they like or like descriptions of like something funny happened to me today at the bank. So they're all just sort of like random people posting things and then other people can upvote them and comment them and sort of have a discussion about them.
That's how that's my understanding of how Reddit work. Yeah.
And within Reddit, you have Subrata that can get unbelievably specific. And it also feels to me like a place where people kind of go to, like, observe other human behavior and submit their own human behaviors for like evaluation by other human beings.
And what is the creepy encounters separate it about. So while browsing Reddit looking for scary stories, I found the creepy encounter Subrata, which is specifically for non paranormal and non-life threatening events where like something just kind of gave you a creepy feeling, like that's the criteria. But interestingly, the most popular posts there tended to be of the genre of like I was almost trafficked. I crossed paths with a serial killer maybe. Yeah, something almost happened. Like something really seriously terrible almost happened.
It could have happened. Or like I feel like it could have happened and like. Right. I wanted to explore that feeling with you basically and talk about what it means for a nation of people to to have that level of fear and what kinds of events inspire it.
And I wanted to rant to you about all the trafficking stuff that didn't make it into our real episodes. And that's what we got to do.
I think this is a real episode, too. I think this is just a wonky one. It's it's got Pochoda.
It's the velveteen rabbit of episodes. Just needs to be loved. Yeah. So this is us from a couple of weeks ago talking about trafficking and homelessness and Uber and all kinds of other stuff and enjoy. And we'll see you with other things soon.
Yes, this is a bit different because usually we do like ask us anything. But then for the last like five days, Sarah has been frantically sending me trafficking urban legend, both from this Reddit that she found. And so eventually we were like, oh, we like we really want to talk about this. But let's let's record us talking about this, because this could be a fun bonus episode.
Well, it's just I realized that I kept wanting I read like ten fairly long Reddit posts that I wanted to send you.
I'm so excited. And I was restraining myself and just sending you two were free and I was like, we got to do something with this because I can't just keep sending him, like, meaningless things to read.
So, yeah, we decided to do a bonus episode and let us know if you like it.
Also, if there's other celebrities that you think we should, like, dive into and talk about as a bonus episode, let us know.
Yeah, I feel like it's one of the one of my favorite ways, one of the best ways I found to like feel like I'm peering directly into other people's houses. Yes. Ironically, given the substance of the cyberattack we're going to discuss today, which is our creepy encounters, I'm so excited. OK, so this is one of the ones that I couldn't restrain myself from sending to you. And it's called I was almost sex trafficked and didn't realize until nearly a year later.
And so the poster writes, I've had some creepy encounters before, but this is the only one where I am positive I was in danger. I was 17 and I had really wanted to learn how to play guitar. And this guy had a crush on offer to teach me how to play. So we decided to meet at a park one summer afternoon. I got there a bit early and decided to wait on a bank inside of one of those little things you see in every generic suburban park.
So I'm sitting on my phone waiting for the guy to come and all of a sudden this lady pops up out of fucking nowhere.
She was a fairly small lady that seemed to be in her 40s or 50s. And I specifically remember her being incredibly thin and almost dirty looking, despite having her hair and makeup done well and wearing very nice clothing. All of this is important. Later, she walks up to me and tells me she likes my shoes, to which I give her a big smile and tell her where I got them. That was probably my first mistake. Then she sits down and begins to start a conversation with me, asking how old I was, where I lived, went to school, all of that stuff.
Now, I immediately thought, this is weird, but my hometown is super safe. The lady was incredibly small, so I knew I could take her down if needed and she was speaking with an accent and didn't seem to know much English. So I figured that maybe she was new here and wanted to make friends and I didn't want to seem rude. So I kept talking to her and just giving her vague answers whenever I could. And then all of a sudden she says, Oh, you're so beautiful.
I love your skin and hair and without giving me time to react, pulls out her phone and takes a photo of me. OK, now I'm starting to freak out, but and I know the system of me. I tell myself that maybe this is just a cultural difference and wasn't actually that weird. So I guess kind of didn't react and hoped the guy would show up soon. So at this point, the lady has been talking to me for about fifteen or twenty minutes and I'm getting pretty weirded out and trying to make my responses to her as short as possible and hopes that she'll leave, which she does.
And finally, finally, the guy shows up. He has a big military guy that doesn't look like someone you'd want to fuck with. So I immediately felt safe and made it clear that I knew him because this lady was sitting so damn close to me. He thought we knew each other. So he went up to her and introduced himself. She did not like that at all. Her face kind of fell as soon as she saw him. She tried to hide it, but still hardly spoke to him or acknowledged him at all, and instead turned to me and asked if he was my boyfriend.
Him and I very quickly said no and made it clear we were just friends. Well, apparently she completely ignored us saying that because almost immediately she gets up and says, Oh, you guys are such a cute couple and pulls out her phone and takes yet another photo of me. But this time in a way that she got my full body in the shot. After she takes the photo, she pretty much immediately leaves. And I notice that she went around a big corner towards the bathrooms and just disappears.
I never saw her come out of another side.
So do you want to break and discuss what we've heard so far?
Well, what what what struck you about this? It what made you want to send it to me? I mean, first of all, that it was just like a classic sex trafficking story of the kind that I've heard sort of warnings and Meems go around about, because there is this specific sort of subgenre of human trafficking warnings that I've seen on social media of like don't talk to women and that like women are recruiting. And even stories about like if a child is asking for help, like don't help them because the traffickers have sent them in.
Like, if you see what seems to be an abandoned baby carriage, like a baby crying, like, don't go look at it because the traffickers will snatch you, which like I think is a plot point in the Great Mouse Detective.
It's stuff that's very resonant in a horror movie way.
And so I was interested in the fact that this is like a classic social media, anti trafficking fear of like a woman is is recruiting me for for sex trafficking. Yeah.
I mean, it has the structure of so many of these stories where ultimately, if you just wrote down the facts of the story, it's quite sort of every day I was sitting in a park, a woman came up to me. She seemed a little strange and she took a photo of me, which is definitely out of the ordinary. But that's like that's it.
I'm always curious about how people think this sort of logistics of this form of recruitment works, because from all of the sex workers that I've spoken to, pimps. Rooting like this does, in fact, take place on planet Earth, but it's almost exclusively of existing sex workers, managers, as sex workers call them, we'll sort of drive around in red light districts and threaten interest people who are already doing sex work to start to give up some of the profits that they're making.
But it's like if your strategy is just walking up to random people and taking their photos and then trying to recruit them to sex work like I don't that just doesn't seem like a very efficient strategy to me.
Well, I love how your project manager, Quyen abilities are allowing you to undermine the myth of, like welfare and human trafficking.
So let's talk about this European lady. So she goes to APAs, Anytown, USA. She's waiting to happen upon fresh, young potential trafficking victims of some kind. So she chats them up. She makes small talk. She asked them about their lives and then takes pictures of them. And then where are the pictures going in this scenario?
I think it's also part of the myth of like international cartels, right, that she has to show these photos to her boss for like approval, like to get her expenses paid back or something. Right.
That's the weirdest thing about this all. And I guess it makes total sense is that, like, it's not just the idea that there's human trafficking. Like, I believe that fine. It's that in all these stories, there is explicitly or implicitly the idea that human trafficking is like a large corporate infrastructure that involves middle management, like she's got a monthly quota. Yes.
And it makes sense to me because it's reflecting how the truly sinister things that happen in America, the companies that, you know, look at profit margins, look at how many people have to die for them to be able to guarantee the stockholders a good fiscal quarter.
That's those are health insurance companies. You're talking about people who have health insurance companies, which is why SpaceX is like an underrated movie, because it is about health insurance. It has things.
I knew you would bring it back to that somehow. Yes, I have.
I will bring up so whenever I possibly can.
It's maligned, you know, but it's like, again, like I just can't stress enough, you know, my amazement at the fact that, like, the calm, reasonable psychopath that we imagine carrying out the violent crimes, the sexual assaults, the coercions, the abuses that affect people's lives, it's like individuals don't act that way, but companies do.
So it's interesting to me that, like are justifiable fears of corporations are being sublimated on to the sexual predator figure like that. And it's a graft. It's a Franken fear.
It's also a weird blending of things in that these things are hierarchical. Right.
And they're so sort of internationally connected and they're connected to elites and there's private jets involved, etc. But also there's so janki that they're walking up to people in parks. Yes, right. They're basically door to door salesmen. Right.
Like that's what they make you do when you're, like, trying to sell leggings on Facebook to their moms.
Yeah, but does it have you ever heard a story about someone being recruited into sex work by like a random Eastern European lady, like mysteriously chatting with her and taking a photo of her?
No, the only the closest thing I've heard and I actually just got an email from somebody with a story like this yesterday, and I have a call with her later this week is it's like romance, right?
She's a teenage girl. It's a guy in his late 20s and early 30s. He's handsome. He's nice to her. And nobody's ever been nice to her before because she grew up in a really shitty family and it's wrapped up in domestic abuse. This isn't like he's deliberately, calculatedly recruiting her to commercial sex. What he's doing is he just wants to get into a relationship with this person who he is physically attracted to and smitten with. And he's kind of an asshole.
And then he starts abusing her and the abuse escalates and it escalates more and eventually it becomes him asking her to have sex with other people so that he can get the money. Yeah, this isn't necessarily in his head from day one.
I am sure that that has happened in the world. But when we hear real versions of this story, it is almost always in the context of a romantic relationship. It is almost always somebody who has a history of abuse or trauma or a situation that they want to escape from and is almost always escalation of existing abuse. Right.
And just like, why would you lead with, like, an off putting little Eastern European?
I know Eastern European because I say I'm thinking of like Carol Cain and the argument that the trafficking name people would counter that with, I believe, is because the little European lady isn't threatening. You're not scared of her. And so, yeah, that's why they're using women and children as bait. And it's like, yeah, I'm not scared of her, but like, I'm not going to, like, take a weird job from her either. Yeah.
I mean, the question is like, what's her pitch. Right. If her pitch is like, hi, I'm a random Carol Cain lady and you know, you can make a thousand dollars a week by sleeping with men. Most teenagers would simply say no to that, yeah, or they'd be like, you know what, I fucking hate working at this jersey Mike's you keep talking.
And then they would either be like, yes, those sound like reasonable labor conditions and context or no, that's no good.
And in general, without the sort of the romantic entanglement and without the promise of love, she doesn't have a great pitch to these kids to get them to sign up for it.
Yeah, I was actually just chatting the other day with a woman who's a counselor at a domestic violence shelter, and she said the shelter has around 2000 people that sort of come through the doors for some period of time every year, every year. They have around five people that have been in something like this where they end up getting coerced into commercial sex by their boyfriend. And she said in basically one hundred percent of these cases, the people, both of the people involved are homeless and one or both of the people are on meth like meth is in some way involved.
So, again, we have this idea of like the calculated criminal trafficker who's recruiting dozens of girls when oftentimes the actual traffickers are, like, so addicted that like, they don't necessarily want their girlfriend to be sleeping with guys to make money, but they can't think of any other way. And they're so desperate from withdrawals that they will let her sleep with guys for money, not to, like, defend this or anything.
And some of them are like, you know, working at a domestic violence shelter is a particular slice of this issue.
So she's also not getting necessarily the big picture, but it's just saying, like, what genius of shitty behavior is this? We're not saying it's shitty behavior or that it's not abusive, but it's like if you have this town where people are being like, you know, stopped by like some kind of big cat and you think it's a tiger, isn't it a relief to find out that it's a bobcat which can still fuck you up? But it's a little like bedraggled bobcat.
It's not a mythic creature. It's just like the people who do the most damage in our lives don't have or often don't have the capacity to be self-aware about the damage they're inflicting or about how dangerous they are or about how harmful their behavior is. You know, some of the worst abuses are carried out by people who do not see themselves as abusive and who if you said you're being abusive, we just abuse you more.
Yeah, because it's upsetting to them to be told that their abusive, you know, people who do these sort of calculated acts do exist. But it's far more common for people to sort of stumble into this or escalate their way into this behavior without necessarily envisioning that this was what they wanted all along.
Yeah, I think the amount of, like, diminishment of what we aspire to call free will, if your body is going through, for example, a bad drug withdrawal is like a very scary thing to contemplate. And I think it's easier to think that things like this big corporate human trafficking concern that sends out little European ladies.
Can I tell you the opposite of this story? Yeah. So this was like two weeks ago. I was sitting at an outdoor cafe, like one of the few places in Seattle where you can sit outdoors but also get Wi-Fi. And there was a woman nearby who looked to be sort of in her 40s and she asked, like, you know, how do you access the Wi-Fi or something like that? And I helped her. And then her computer wasn't working.
And then this is the extent of my technical knowledge. I was like, try turning it off and turning it on again. And then the Internet worked like the password went through. And she sort of, you know, it was like, hey, where are you from? And do you come here often, like, you know, normal kind of in public chatting stuff. That's what we were having, a lovely little fleeting relationship. And then after a couple of minutes, she said, oh, do you mind watching my stuff while I run inside and, you know, grab a drink or whatever?
And I was like, sure. And then she came back outside with two Madelyn's like little cookies. And she gave me one of the cookies. And she was like, It's so nice of you to help me fix the, you know, get the Wi-Fi working.
And I was like, that is totally unnecessary. Like I did nothing. But so Cristián, it was just so nice of her.
And since then, I mean, I go to this place relatively frequently because it's like one of the only places you can work outdoors.
Like, I see you're there all the time now and like whenever and like we've traded names and stuff and like she's looking for work and I'm like helping her with her interviews and stuff.
And like one of the sort of grand tragedies of stories like this, like the mid-air tragedy, is that like if I wanted to, I could have seen my interaction with her as like somehow sinister.
Oh, yeah. You could have gone on on our creepy encounters and talked about it. Yes.
And also, like, one of the things that you do in these sort of initial small talk conversations is sometimes like you ask questions that people aren't ready to answer. Like one of the things she asked me was she like, do you live near this cafe? And like, that's a pretty normal question to ask. But if in my brain I was like, constantly looking out for trafficker's, like, why is she asking me if I live nearby? Does she want to know my address?
Like, why did she buy me a cookie? Right. Like, why is she trying to sort of get on my good graces? Like, you can see these things as evil. When ninety nine point nine percent of the time, it's like people maybe just overstepped the mark a little bit. I mean, this is a thing, too. I think that I think that just happens if you're a human being that lives in a setting like you will interact with a lot of people who are going to be a little unusual to you.
You're going to have a hard time reading them and they're going to be maybe be going through something. There's a you know, there is this idea and a lot of these names going around, like trust your gut like this, like if it feels off, like trust your gut, trust your feeling that like if something is off, just like trust it. And I feel like we're getting into this weird area where we're assuming that, like, if something feels off to you, that means you're going to be like traffic.
Traffic is going to murder. Some things just feel weird.
And this idea of assuming that someone who makes you feel weird for any reason is dangerous to you, is going to make you respond with hostility and maybe actually dangerous behavior of your own. Yeah. Someone who's just like, you know, behaves in a way that is confusing to you but isn't hostile to you at all.
Yeah. I mean, we're neglecting the fact that this sub Reddit post has a twist at the end and it did turn out to be trafficking.
Well, let's pick it back up, OK, until about a year later.
So I was sitting in my dorm one night falling down a YouTube rabbit hole, and I stumbled upon videos of people telling their sex trafficking stories and all of their encounters seemed very familiar to me. All of a sudden, I remember being encounter I had with that lady at the park and I decided to Google sex trafficking in my hometown to call my nerves because there was no way this lady was a sex trafficker.
Right. I Google my hometown and immediately an article pops up about a woman being arrested in my hometown in September for running two sex trafficking rings in my town. I'm thinking this can't be the same lady. And continue reading about how she kidnapped women and girls in my town and held them hostage at a, quote, massage center and would sell them and the U.S. and ship them out of the country, stuff like that. And then I get to a mugshot and my blood goes cold.
On the screen. I see a small lady.
How small is this lady I'm picturing like Thumbelina? Yeah, she lives inside of a Russian doll. On the screen, I see a small lady with a description saying she's in her 50s. I recognize her immediately and freak out and FaceTime the guy I was with at the time and show him the mugshot to confirm it's her. And without me saying anything, he goes, Oh, that's the lady we met in the park. The thing that probably freaks me out the most was that as far as I'm able to find out, she was the only person arrested.
And there is no way this lady worked alone. She was incredibly, incredibly tiny, tiny.
Wish no one else was found guilty of sex trafficking in my town or anywhere nearby. I have since moved back to my hometown. And I truly think that moving away from here may have saved my ass, although I still don't know if someone else has those pictures of me, the dun dun dun.
So, yeah, it's. Tell us about your thoughts.
I mean, all I have is just in brackets citation needed. Maybe there was a sex trafficking ring in her town and there was a woman arrested as part of that. And the photo of this woman appeared in the newspaper. And this person has like juxtaposed that with the person who spoke to her in the park that day.
Well, but the other thing is that, like the news is reporting on stuff that based on how you've reported on sex trafficking, doesn't happen. Like they're saying that she's shipping girls out of the country. Yeah, I mean, what I find interesting about this post is that I think that this poster that this all could have happened like this weird conversation and then like maybe this lady did were, you know, was arrested on suspicion of sex trafficking. And it can be reported on in such an inflammatory way that the poster reasonably makes a very slight leap from that to like shipping containers.
I mean, I am like pretty fucking brain poisoned from trafficking stuff. And I've never seen a story in the news that said women were being recruited from the U.S. and taken abroad.
One thing you hear I've heard this in so many conversations with like very smart, very educated people, they'll say, like City X, they'll say like Portland is a hub for human trafficking. Yes.
Everyone thinks their city is a hub for human trafficking, the same way that everyone thinks Empire Carpets is a local business that their city has.
It's not I'm sorry, but what I've noticed when I ask people like, why do you say that Portland is a hub for human trafficking? Oftentimes what they say is they'll say, oh, it's a port city. Right. I have done all the like Googling ninja level stuff that I can do. I have asked people that work in this field. I've asked people that like do international human smuggling.
I've asked a lot of people if they have ever heard of immigrants being shipped against their will in a shipping container. And no one has ever been able to give me a case of it. There have been cases where immigrants will go sort of like to the UK or other places.
In a shipping container willingly, like, I will pay you 10000 dollars to get me into Western Europe on a shipping container. Yeah, but again, it's like this idea of like it's a port city and it's a hub. There are not a large number of confirmed cases of this. The whole thing of like immigrants and shipping containers, like we all need to get that out of our vocabulary. Yeah.
And it's something that people assume without thinking it through because like as with a zip tie on the car thing where, like, the traffickers will get you buy like they put a zip tie, they connect to the handle of your car door to the corridor beside it, and then you're going to be trying to get it off and then they'll get you.
And it's like, why do the traffickers want you to take something sharp out of your purse?
Right. So we've been talking about this one, looking at it for like an hour and 10 minutes.
Yes, very happy with that. We we think that it's probably not accurate. Yeah.
And so here's a comment that says there is not a single trafficking group that has been profiled that didn't use women as bait, not one. As far as I'm concerned, women are the new leads in trafficking scenarios because people feel safer around women always carry pepper spray or something. And if someone tries to take a picture of you, block your face and feel free to defend yourself.
Oh, my God. If you see any woman, feel free to pepper spray her, mace her when they see a teeny tiny woman step on her like she's a crunchy leaf.
Do you do you want to give me some more? Yes. What are you going to read me? What is what nightmare. Am I entering into.
So this is called Homeless Lady Approaches My Car while I'm eating alone at the McDonald's. Doesn't realize I'm not stupid.
So this poster writes, Yes, I was eating in my car. It was late, almost midnight, and the dining room had already been closed up. The town I live in has a lot of poverty, so the occasional bummer beggar isn't really a big deal. So out of the corner of my eye, I see a figure at my window and here and I, I instantly make sure my doors are locked and crack the window a bit to speak to her.
She's obviously disheveled, layered up in coats and toting a big purse in each hand. First, she calmly asks if she can get a ride to the pharmacy. I tell her I'm sorry, I'm about to head home and I can't. Immediately she goes into some crocodile tears. I'm sitting there like there's a Walgreens a block from this McDonald's and a CVS a block down from that. She tells me she's gone to both and they're closed, suggesting a specific street on which there is an open pharmacy.
Remember how I said I live here? Yeah, the Walgreens is obviously never close. I immediately roll up my window and go back to finishing my burger and she starts knocking again on the window loudly. The good thing is the base in my car is turned all the way up and the sound leaks a lot. So I guess cranked up my white ass music until she left.
Very creepy. Just because I could tell half of what she was telling me was a lie, I don't know.
It's such a fucking bummer. Yeah, this one's sad.
I know. I have to share this week on the Internet. I don't know why you have to do it. And it's like shitty framing.
And I feel like cultivating a feeling of like hostility where sadness could be is like a way that people get down just like this, this high visibility of human trauma and suffering and like needless human suffering, you know, and it is frustrating to just have to live in a society that's visibly breaking down all around you and you can't fix it. Yeah, I think one of the ways we have of coping with this is to, you know, just decide, like, if I feel off, if someone is like seems a little if I feel upset in any way by someone's interaction with me, then like, I will register.
That is like fear and hostility. Right. It feels like one of the things that does is cauterize the wound, just like accepting what's really going on.
And it absolves you of the need to be nice to people. Yeah, because you're a potential victim at all times.
One of the most proximate experiences of being a homeless person is shame. People do not look at you. People do not say hello in the morning.
Homeless people know that society doesn't like homeless people. So like the stigma of being homeless is acutely felt by homeless people. And so one of the best things that you can do, even if you are not comfortable with giving money to homeless people and some people aren't, and I have no interest in changing the what people do on that front. I have interest in changing how people vote on these issues. But if you are not comfortable giving homeless people your money, like say hello to homeless people introducing yourself, you see the same homeless person in your neighborhood like three or four times.
They are your neighbor. You might not like the fact that they are your neighbor, but they fucking are. And you can treat them the same way you treat neighbors in your building who you don't want to be there. Like you can be civil to them if you are in.
I mean, I'm just off on a rant now. It's just nothing to do with anything.
No, this is great. I love it. I mean, frankly, a lot of people who quote unquote seem homeless, they're not homeless. They actually have, like a lot of people do, actually live in low income housing.
They're just art students. They're just poor, like a lot of people live in subsidized housing. But when you live in subsidized housing, you still have to pay at least 30 percent of your income on the housing. And so a lot of people don't have enough money left over for food. Or other things, so they end up panhandling. So a lot of people who we call, quote unquote, homeless, they are poor, they're not homeless. These things are actually really important.
And it feels important to me to not shut off your empathy in the way that, like, these stories in these librettists are encouraging you to write like you don't have to feel safe giving a ride to someone or continuing to talk to someone.
And like, yeah, everyone has the right to eat their burger quietly in their car in the middle of the night.
But like, sometimes someone really needs a ride to somewhere for whatever reason and is not having their best day. And you are the only person who they can ask for that. And it just sucks. Yeah. This has so many upvotes.
My favorite comment is the person going, are you in Hollywood, California? We also have a McDonald's that's close to a Walgreens and a CVS.
The most stressful thing to me about this entire post that most of the comments are people discussing the phenomenon that apparently McDonald's is often in the same M.O. as a Walgreens in a city. That's the most interesting thing going on here.
It's OK. OK, so this post is called Sex Trafficker with a change of heart.
Oh, no. And this poster writes, When I was in college, I worked at a small hole in the wall bar about 20 minutes from medium sized city in the Midwest. One night a guy walked in and sat at the bar. He got a drink and ordered some food and sat at the bar by himself. At some point, this man started to engage in personal conversation with me. Again, totally normal, especially in a place like that.
But at some point he started to compliment me on my appearance. Also, again, not hyper unusual since I was 21 years old by three athletic, pretty blue eyed with all my teeth. But he started to really attempt to flatter me, like saying I was exceptionally beautiful, which honestly, I probably ran kind of four to eight depending on the day and effort. But I can tell you for sure I was not on the upper end of the spectrum that day, like, oh, honey.
Oh, although I mean, good for her. That's a that's a wide range, four to eight.
He started to tell me that I had modeling material, that he could see me in magazines, that I was something special. Then he started to tell me about how he had a buddy in Florida who ran a modeling agency, and I would be perfect for him. He started talking about money I could make and it could just be a part time thing. At some point in my naivete, I really intrigued. I never thought of myself like that. But hey, this guy seems nice and genuine, so he must really mean it.
I could also make some extra money looking back on that thought process. I cringe. After he sweet talked me, we exchanged contact information. He gave me an email address and asked me to send pictures of myself when I had the chance. He then said he got me connected with his friend in Florida. He finished his meal and went on his way. The next day I went home and like the stupid, clueless and naive all in caps girl I was, I freaking emailed him.
I literally remember being so excited to, like, eat. Can't wait to be a model, sweetie.
A few days passed with no response. Then I got a reply back to him. He thanked me for the email, but then said something to the effect of You are a very sweet girl and you have a good future ahead of you and that he wasn't going to forward this to his friend. I remember being disappointed. WTF, I thought he didn't like my pictures. I am 28 years old now and it wasn't until recently that I realized that I think I dodged a major bullet by being sex trafficked.
Just looking back at that place in general, I was in a really precarious position.
Also, I guess, wonder about the change of heart. I wish I remember the exact verbiage and what pictures I sent. I recently tried to find this email exchange, but I must have used my school account and that has since been deleted.
And the top comment says, I don't think sex trafficking LOEL more like a pervert pretending he has a friend in the modeling. Yeah, so you will send him pics. It's happened to me multiple times with me. Being skeptical has never felt for it.
I know it's just like such a standard story of just like a dick issued in a bar. Yeah.
Using a line on the girl like that night and then she emails him like three days later and he's like what.
Who, what girl.
Wait a couple days to email back and it's like I like he wants to let her down easy and not be a dick or he just wanted to get the pictures out of her and he has yeah.
He's like great by. Yeah.
Oh this is the thing. It's like this Traficon stuff has resulted in just like straightforward stories of dudes like trying to like sexually assault you or trying to have sex with you and like a normal way have now become like I was almost trafficked stories.
Right. And I feel like it's like you have to call it trafficking to like, legitimize how creepy it is.
And it's like, no, it's just fucking creepy. It's just creepy that he would get pictures out of you that way.
Like, I don't know. It's funny to me that this is a story that has very few upvotes. This has like fifty upvotes. The I was eating in my car outside McDonald's and a homeless woman bothered me. Story has like almost two thousand upvotes.
And this one's creepy. Yeah. And I feel like it is unsuccessful on the Subrata it because it's not it's obviously not the thing that the poster thinks it is, but it's creepy. And in a way, it's you know, it's creepy horror because, like, she doesn't even realize still what was going on. Yeah. Yeah.
Do you want to tell the Uber driver story? I thought that was really good.
Yeah, I'll open it. And so this is another example of when that to me is quite creepy. And it's called Do not let your Uber driver cancel your ride while in the car and you're going to read it.
OK, this is extremely long, so I'm going to do some paraphrasing. So this is a woman she went out dancing with friends. She's very drunk. Her phone is dead. And so her friends do the thing where they're like, I'll get you an Uber using my account or whatever. And so her friends basically put her in this Uber. She's super drunk, the Uber driver sort of hitting vaguely toward her home. And then he asked her if she wants some weed.
And she's like, I don't know. But then he sort of like pushes it on her like, oh, it'll help you sleep or whatever. And then she's like, OK, yeah, I'll take some weed. But then this is like kind of a bait and switch. He says, OK, well, I have to cancel the ride really quick because I can't give it to you while I'm on the clock. So all of a sudden he cancels her ride so he can give her this joint.
So she says it's starting to hit me now.
I'm not in the car with an Uber driver, but with some stranger, which is why don't the Uber driver is.
Yes, which is like an astute observation that that is what a driver is.
I can't call anyone and he's trying to give me weed that could have anything in it for the next minute. We're pretty quiet. Or maybe I just can't remember any small talk he tried to make because I was beginning to panic. Every time he handed me the joint, I would take fake hits, just breathing it into my mouth and not into my lungs. I felt tired, clumsy and weak, the kind of drunk where you're almost to the point of nausea.
And now I couldn't do much of anything to defend myself. As I'm freaking out, I look up to see if this guy is sort of noticing and I make eye contact with him in the mirror. He was staring at me, but I couldn't read his expression. Finally, he says something along the lines of, well, let's get out of here. I tell him I'll just call another Uber to get home, thinking at this point it might even be safer to walk.
And he says, no, I still have your address.
I'll just take you home for a moment. I was relieved. I tried to calm myself down, thinking he hadn't actually done anything threatening. Maybe he was just your typical stoner guy and I'm overreacting. So he starts driving, technically driving her home, but like not really taking her home. He's like on the freeway, but she's watching these, like, exits go past.
Yeah, this is a Portland story. So I know exactly where all of this is. Yes. And this is a situation I've been in. Yeah. He's trying to get back to you. Student housing, which is where I also lived at one time. So basically, she was at a club or a bar in Southeast Portland. She wants to get to Portland State, which is in southwest Portland. So they just have to go over the first bridge they can find going east to west.
And instead of doing that, he's going north and just bypassing bridge after bridge.
She says, I've been racking my brain for way to make him actually take me home and say something to the effect of, hey, my boyfriend is waiting for me at home, which was true, though I said it in a very meek way. My driver says nothing, but he did take the next exit for a bridge and basically hung a giant U-turn and started taking me home. Even as we're on the west side of town heading south, I'm still shaking and have my hand on the door handle thinking about just hopping out at a red light the closer we get to my apartment.
So once we get about two blocks from my apartment, I lie and tell him it's easiest to stop here and he can let me out again. He doesn't say anything but does slow the car. I'm flooded with relief and even feel myself smile, but when I go to open the door, it's locked. I try to lift the lock mechanism manually, but it won't budge. I look up at him instinctually to see what's up and he's got his head turned almost fully toward me, shoulders still facing the road, smiling at me, the worst fucking smile I've ever seen.
It looked so mocking and it just did not reach his eyes at all. I started shaking and crying and asking him to open the door. I was so freaked out and still very drunk and thank God he did. I will never forget the sensation of vulnerability, not just being drunk in his car with no way to contact anyone. But even as I got out of the car, I kept feeling like he would somehow grab the back of my shirt and pull me back in.
As silly as that sounds, the next day I convinced myself I was freaking out over nothing. But in my gut I had truly felt in danger the night before. The big thing that made me think of this was recently hearing about Ed Kemper. The coed killer would go for practice runs, picking up hitchhikers and seeing if he could get the passenger potential victims to trust him or how far out of his comfort zone he could push them without them saying anything.
Obviously, this guy wasn't Ed Kemper, but I hate wondering if that night was a practice run of sorts for my Uber driver. This story fucking sucks.
Yeah, exactly. The story fucking sucks. A lot of the stories with very few upvotes in the sub Reddit are like a creepy guy. Follow me creepily around Walmart and like no one cares about those stories. And so I find it really sad that the poster had to start thinking of her Uber driver as a burgeoning serial killer, potentially in order to take this experience seriously.
And if it was. And creepy like this guy was like without speaking, taking you to a second location, he'd like giving you drugs and was like nothing good was going to happen.
Yeah, it's terrifying. Yeah. Story is enough without there being any serial killer stuff in it.
It sounds like just like a prelude to sexual assault. Yes. And even if he thinks like I'm picking up a girl and this is consensual, it's like, great. So you like, find someone, drag her like that's the most charitable possible interpretation that anyone could come up with. And then it's like, well, then we're dealing with someone who doesn't understand the difference between a consensual pick up and basically kidnapping someone, which is a whole other bigger conversation.
What do you make of that? I think the thing because like as a gay person, I don't understand all the weird, like, gender stuff at play here at all. What do you think of the ending where she says, my boyfriend is waiting for me and that seems to work?
It's very interesting, right? It's weird. I mean, I've done this in less extreme circumstances where someone is just sort of aggressively hitting on me and not taking cues at all and they just kind of keep chiseling in. And this is like how men routinely talk to women in public because women are socialized for our entire lives to, like, be polite. And I've had the experience of, like, alluding to a boyfriend, fictional or not, and they just like turn off.
They're like, oh, and it's like. So you don't think that my apparent interest in you is relevant at all. But the fact that I have a boy, you're like, oh, your own.
Sorry, you are. We already belong to someone. I guess this kind of zoomed out really fast.
But like I feel like the whole problem with, like relations between men and women trying to date each other at this point, you know, relations between the genders, like we're all the way zoomed out, go for all the way out.
Is that like the institution of marriage? From what I understand came into being as we know it today, when society became agrarian, like we are zoomed out the northern side.
And he did so because it was a way of managing property, passing on property, amassing well, establishing parentage, controlling parentage, controlling lineage, etc. all that stuff, capitalism, you know, and this is the time when the institution of marriage, as we understand it now is born.
And this is what it's about. It's not about romance. It's not about love. It's not about partnership, really. It's about, you know, making it and the way that they have decided as a society to make it. And so the family becomes the unit rather than the collective, because I think where we really went wrong anyway, this sub Reddit posts.
So our understanding of marriage, our understanding of hetero normative heterosexual, cis normative love, we are trying to revise a property law thing into romance and it cannot be done. And so just like the way that men treat women, the way that boys treat girls is that they are property who are going to be owned by someone. And it doesn't matter if someone is interested in you. That's not relevant. What's relevant if someone else owns them already?
It feels I mean, I'm completely saying this from no information because I do not understand the shit at all. But it seems like it like it killed the mood for him. I don't know if that's like he got moral qualms or like it just sort of like boner wise. He wasn't as interested in it anymore. Like, it just seems like that had this weird sort of like non-intellectual effect on him because intellectually nothing has changed at all. Yeah.
Because he's not functioning intellectually.
If he's, like, doing something that's horrible, because if you're contemplating sexual assault, the immorality of sexually assaulting somebody with a boyfriend is not distinct from the immorality of sexually assaulting someone with a boyfriend.
I don't know. Maybe I don't know. Maybe it is.
That's why this is such a rich text. It's like I'm planning a run on the bank and then it's like, oh, they're closed on Tuesdays and like, oh, never mind, I don't want to rob right anymore. Right. It's like this weird piece of information that doesn't matter. Yeah.
I don't want to break into a closed place of business. Yeah.
It is that level of weirdness question because as an expert in zoomed out gender relations, do think it would have had a similar effect on him if she had said I'm a lesbian now?
OK, I do not. And I think if she'd said my girlfriend is at home, I suspect that that likely wouldn't have had the same effect either. Interesting. I think that the feeling that another man has, like figuratively the scent of another man's urine was on this coming along.
And he didn't realize that.
Like, that's I think that's the the mood killer not to get to criminal mindset, but like, yeah, it's like the weird lizard respect for other men are like some weird guy code shit, which is the thing where, like, heterosexuality is fundamentally about other men.
Right. It's very weird. It's all too weird. Damn.
Let's close with something fun. I want to close with something light.
Oh God. Is there something light on this? Subrata There are. Yeah, let me guess, let me find something real quick. There's one called Staring Down a serial killer. That sounds absolutely true. Yeah, I think my dog has a stalker.
That's that one actually is really intense. That one is dark. I'm serious. OK, I'm not clicking. I'm not expanding it.
Oh, here's a good one. I've got a good one. My roommate's boyfriend came into my room at 2:00 a.m. so this happened last night at two a.m. I hear my door open and it was really dark in my room. So I thought it was my roommate while the person walked straight to my laundry basket and starts shuffling through it as if looking for something, I set up and say, Hey, is everything OK? No response. The person then proceeded to walk back out of my room and close the door behind them.
I got up and opened my door to see my roommate's boyfriend staring at himself in the bathroom mirror. I again ask if he's all right and no response, I guess. Closed and locked my door and got back in bed. This morning I told my roommate what happened. Her bf had left for the day and she said she found my towel and bra in her room this morning, that basically he was sleepwalking, but it creeped me the fuck out.
Are we not supposed to steal bras from female roommates and then flex their muscles in front of a mirror for a couple hours of the night? What next?
I guess don't be so obvious about it. This reminds me of my roommate when I lived in Denmark, whose name I'm not going to give, but we can call him Matt. This is like one of the most conventionally attractive people I've ever known in my entire life. He was like super Danish, six foot one, two percent body fat. He looked like a goddamn Abercrombie and Fitch model, which means I was not remotely injured, like I was not attracted to him at all.
But it's like that movie with like Freddie Prinze Jr. and Monica Potter, where she lives in a house full of supermodels. You're just like, yes, yes. The supermodel.
Yeah, exactly. I'm just like, whatever. Like, you look like a goddamn underwear box, but like, I don't actually care. Like, it doesn't it doesn't do anything for me. But anyway, so I had already lived there for like six months. At this point, no romantic tension between us whatsoever. Like nothing he would have dudes over. I would have dudes over. It was completely chill one time. It was like 3:00 in the morning on a Friday night.
I was sleeping because I'm a loser and I never do anything at night. I don't drink. So I'm just like stone sober sleeping. All of a sudden I feel this like handshaking me and I'm like, what the fuck? I wake up and it's Matt and he's ludicrously drunk.
Like, he smells like a goddamn brewery. It is Munich in October.
Is the house on fire? Like what? What do you need me for? And he says out of nowhere he's like, so I brought a guy home. He's really cute. Do you want to have a threesome?
Oh, I was like, what the fuck? Like, you guys are both super wasted. I don't even know this guy looks like could be anyone.
I was like, Matt, you're not even like we don't this is not there is no precedent for this. Exactly what are this is a different category of people than we've been to each other.
And I was like, are you even like attracted to me? Are you nursing some like thing? And he's like, Oh, no, not really. All right. Yeah.
And then I politely declined and they presumably went and enjoyed themselves. And then we never fucking talked about it again. I lived for six more months.
I mean, I feel like when people are super drunk, I mean, that's why I people go to McDonald's like they're impulsive and like something might sound good to you that wouldn't at any other time. And I feel like maybe just it's. Yeah. That you were like a warm body in that situation.
And now I wish that I had done it just so that I could, like, play with his body and like, see it now because you don't like people like really, really, really nice bodies. I like kind of fascinating. Oh yeah, totally. You're like, oh like you have a muscle there and like I don't have this vein like what is this vein.
Do the attractiveness vein. Yes, exactly. It's hard to make a considered decision.
And when you're woken up at that hour, you know, I was like, send an email, make a calendar invite. Let's discuss this. Give me a Google calendar invite for a threesome. Yeah.
But anyway, Matt, you know, it's not your real name if you're out there.
I'm still not attracted to you or interested in any way. I hope I hope you're having a good life.
We're still friends on Facebook, but if you're out there, we love you. Fuck off. And I still want to touch your veins.
Well, anyway, anyway, that actually reminds me of a point that I had like an hour ago and forgot about, which is at the shipping port, the port city human trafficking thing reminds me because I have been rereading it lately of Bram Stoker's Dracula. Where do you recall how Dracula arrives? And jolly old English isn't his ship. It's a small shipping container. It is a coffin, in fact, and that is how he arrives. And I think that's a very interesting storytelling choice because Dracula being an Eastern European immigrants.
Oh, yeah. Who preys on the pure blood of young English women, I think was preying on some of the human trafficking fears that Victorians were having fears about immigrants and on fears about populations that it was politically advantageous to demonise. Yeah. And so, yes. Dracula trafficking victims.
Yes. Questionmark. Look, if only Dracula hadn't spoken to that lady in the park that day, everything would have been fine.
That teeny tiny lady, the woman who emerged from his pocket that day and took a photo of.