I read this week that in Japan, you can rent strangers to listen to you talk.
For about ten bucks an hour, these men (always men, between the ages of 45-55), provide some non-judgmental company for people who want to blag on about secret shames that they wouldn’t dare tell their parents, friends or therapist.
A stranger therapy, of sorts. An interesting idea.
So like many things in my life, I thought I’d try it.
So I posted an ad on Airtasker.
Twenty bucks, I offered, for 30 minutes of listening.
Less than a dollar a minute. Cheaper than therapy.
Cheaper than the Chinese massage place near the food court at work.
The listener could have a tea or a coffee, and sip away as I chatty chat chatted to my heart's content.
No phones, no distractions, just someone to sit there in a quiet room and listen to me.
Within minutes, the offers starting pinging into my inbox.
ALL the offers. There's a lot of willing ears out there.
And so I randomly assigned the job to Winnie, a real estate agent who came to me in her lunch break, a small woman with a firm handshake.
I vetted her carefully: Are you a good listener? Can you nod sympathetically? Is your phone off?
Yes. Winnie ticked all the boxes.
"Why are you here?" I asked to break the ice. "To make money", she replied.
I couldn't fault her for honesty. We were off to a good start.
She took up the offer of a green tea, I started the timer and began.
It went a little like this: