The Importance of an Exit Strategy
Last night one of the dockside prostitutes shares with me her big news. She says that this weekend will be her last few days soliciting at the seamen's nightclubs in Cape Town. After 10 years as a dockside pro, she's giving up the game to become a nurse. She's 31.
When she tells me this, I'm surprised and a bit skeptical. After all, many prostitutes have told me about their wonderful optimistic plans, most of which never come true. The stories are usually just fantasies about a life they'd like to live, but never do. Never will.
But this story sounds a bit more plausible. The woman says that she graduated from high school and that she has a nursing qualification. When she started working as a dockside prostitute at age 21, the money was quite good because the clubs were full of "rich" Japanese, Taiwanese and Korean sailors. She got hooked on the impressive cash flow. But today, the clubs are full of "poor" Chinese, Indonesian, Filipino, and Vietnamese seamen. The bottom has dropped out of dockside prostitution financially. She can't survive on such small money.
So she sent her CV around for a number of months and got a call to start working at a nearby hospital. She's very excited. And she's happy to leave prostitution in decent health and spirits.If this is true, this woman would be leaving the sex business under relatively ideal conditions.
For few others have such exit strategies. They continue on-and-on in the game, never developing the necessary skills to transition to legitimate employment. They end up working at the clubs until their 40s, usually losing their health and attractiveness along the way. Some even lose their minds and end up on the streets homeless.
But come Monday, I will see whether this woman's story pans out. For her sake, I hope it does. May she minister to the needs of sick patients just as she ministered to the needs of lonely sailors!
(Uh, OK, maybe she shouldn't treat the patients in exactly the same way she treated the seamen, but you get my point.)