Friday, April 29, 2005

Not a lot of fun...

Tonight was an 'interesting' evening. Sometime during the day one of our customer contacts 'invited' me to dinner. This is code for 'you're going to be paying'. Not a big deal; I get to list his name as a participant and it goes onto expenses. Frankly I'd rather not dine on that basis, even if it does mean I don't have to pay for my own meal out of my per diem but sometimes one has to play the game.

Thus dinner. Beer was consumed; food eaten and stories swapped. During dinner some 'hints' were dropped. Though I thought I'd headed em off at the pass I was wrong. So I found myself in one of the seedier parts of Baguio; in a 'girly' bar.

Three levels; the middle level has a glass floor for the stage. Girls dancing on the stage - you get the idea. The girls were uniformly clad in black gowns that covered the bare minimum! I don't think I've ever seen girls looking so bored in my life as those girls were! I say girls advisedly; to my eyes they looked like they were 16 years old. Probably older but not by much! Top level one looks down upon them. We ended up in a private room on the top floor. Lest you be wondering, I wasn't in control at this point (and no I don't mean I'd drunk so much that I wasn't in control - merely that the customer contact was calling the shots). The contact intimated that it was easier to talk in the private room. Uh huh.

Time passes; beer is ordered. And then 6 girls troop in. Drinks waiter flashes his torch on each face in turn, intoning their names. And then all eyes seemed to turn upon me, the only westerner in the room. I have to choose a girl! Now maybe I'm wrong; maybe it was really only 'talk to the girl' but I'm prepared, even in the light of previous experience with bets that go wrong, to bet my hat there's more to it than that.

I shrugged; on what basis would I choose a girl even assuming I wanted to choose? Size of breasts? Shape of face? Name?

As if to underline the nature of the business the drinks waiter, upon our failing to choose, shooed the first 6 girls out of the room and announced (and I quote literally) 'next batch'. This time 9 girls marched in. Two of the five of us chose girls at this point; another swore he'd be the last to choose.

Enough was enough! I walked out, saying 'I can't and won't do this'. If my customer is offended then so be it. I'll dicker over the cooking of a steak; I'll smile kindly when the customer demands a new feature but I'm damned if I'll put prostitution on my credit card. And I'm damned if I'll participate. And if my employer wants to make an issue of it...

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