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:
I wont lie, it started out super awkwardly, but before long we settled into me lying down on the floor (therapy style, right? Just without the chaise lounge and qualified practitioner) and telling her all the shit that's going on in my head.
Having the presence of someone who doesn't know me or my background, who was seeing me entirely out of context, with no prejudices or pre-concieved ideas, elicits a strange confessional response.
I spilt my guts. All over the floor of the work office.
She nodded along. She chimed in from time to time. But mostly, she listened.
And then the timer went off. Thirty minutes done. And I sat up and said to her: "Do you think I'm crazy?"
And she said: "No".
BRILLIANT. (I mean, I know I was paying her but it still felt good to hear).
And then she finished her green tea, and it was done, and I felt quite chuffed about my airtasker confessional.
And so it was with a spring in my step and a smile on my face that told my mates on the Mamamia Out Loud podcast this week.
Except Mia Freedman, a pro-therapy pundit, was NOT HAPPY. NOT HAPPY AT ALL.
Listen to what she says here
"It's irresponsible", she said.
"There's no ethics, there's no code of practise, there's nothing."
Winnie could put my confessions on Facebook or anywhere without my control.
True. I guess that's the risk you take when you let strangers into your house, or your life, or your head.
But isn't there some comfort to be found in the company of strangers? Yes, I found that strangely, this time, there was.
Mamamia Out Loud is the weekly award-winning podcast with three women who dissect everything from pop-culture to politics. Subscribe in itunes or listen to the full episode here:
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