My time is not my own


Some days I don’t know where it goes…

It is easy to forget, after a few slow days on the lines, that time is not what I think it is. On some of those days, my own self-imposed deadlines may be few, so I’m really just farting around online. An incoming call may startle me, but it’s actually a welcome interruption. So I do 10 minutes, or seven, and then roll back over and get back on Facebook and it’s just la-di-da-di-da, what a low-paying but relaxed life. I have all this free time to do what I want.

But then a day comes along when I really am trying to do something I want, and the bubble bursts. Like yesterday, when I wanted to eat a delicious pancake breakfast with my lover and get ready in a leisurely fashion for a meet-up that I would have to leave the house for as soon as my shift was up. And then I got a 30-minute regular. And another one. My pancakes sat there congealing and the bacon got cold, and the call timer moved slowly while the real-world clock rushed on, and I knew that I was not only going to be a little late, but hella late for the Exploring Sexuality Book Club, and that’s even before putting a dab of makeup on and finishing my bacon.

(Fuck the book club. Always finish bacon.)

Yesterday was the sort of day when I remember, sharply, that my time is not my own. It belongs to the company, and ultimately, the callers. My time belongs to the universe of phone-sex wankers. That time feels like an endless river sometimes; I mean, I can get a lot done on those slow days. Some days I can just keep dipping my cup and take out as much time as I need.

But I’m only borrowing it. I only get to use it if they’re not using it. When I get a call, whatever time I’ve just scooped up has to get thrown back in the river. Whatever I was doing with that time—whether it’s eating pancakes or talking to the bank or riding my way steadily to ecstasy on top of a lover—that gets thrown out the window.

I know these things. They are nothing new, merely the real-world results of going against the guidelines that all steady on-call PSOs know: no cooking anything that can’t be safely and reasonably stopped mid-production; don’t eat anything that is going to get worse from sitting out; time your bathroom breaks carefully; don’t step outside or make a separate phone call without signing off, no matter how little time you think it is going to take.

I know, I know. This is the choice I made. But if I were to follow all those rules all the time that I’m on call—some days that’s up to 16 or 18 hours—my life would become emotionally and culinarily untenable. So I run the risks, I push back against the rules on a regular basis. I borrow that time flagrantly, and hope it doesn’t get called back in. I take showers with the phone sitting on the top of the toilet. I bake (today I’m making carrot cake). I fuck, occasionally with toys that are not easy to take out quickly. I make business calls on my other phone, always warning the other party that I might get a call and have to go.

And I make pancakes and bacon for Sunday breakfast, pretending like it’s just a normal Sunday with my lover, pretending that the hairs in my ear are not all on edge the whole time, semi-sub-consciously waiting for the inevitable, waiting for the call to return this time that I borrowed.

It’s not mine, but damn if I will not wring out every drop I can.

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