Last night, I saw my first real live hooker. The whole image has been haunting me for the past 24 hours.
I don’t usually drive home at dusk. Either I get off work in the mid afternoon or I get off near midnight. Yesterday, circumstances made it so that I was driving home as the sun was beginning to set. I neared the local mall. The irony of it all is that the night before, while watching TV, the news broke in with aerial footage of that mall with the tagline, “Mall Security Guard Charge in Prostitution.” My family had watched the story with this overwhelming feeling of, “We shop at that mall.”
Come to find out a security guard there, operating under an alias (Mall security background checks get an “F”), had been scoping out and approaching young women in the mall. He was pimping them out to local men through an online ‘business.’ The break in the case was a 16 year old who he, pretending to be a teenage girl himself, had solicited online. Three weeks into their relationship, he revealed himself, and then- the kicker- somehow, this girl from Virginia (which is not my state, for those of you curious) ends up in this man’s house (which is right down the road from mine, and behind a church- irony) where he ‘initiated’ her… many times. Then, she operated as a prostitute for three weeks before her mother found out.
There are so many things I could target in that story:
~ According to reports this guy had an FBI file, how does an FBI crook get a job as a security guard at a mall?
~ How does a 16 year old manage to go to the next state over during the school year to have sex with this man?
~ How on earth does it take a mother three weeks to realize her daughter is working as a prostitute?! Do you not see her…ever?
As I neared the mall last night, that story was fresh in my head. I thought of all the poor underage girls who were taken advantage of and I hurt for them. I wished there was some way I could reach out to them. Those are hopeless, hurting hearts and you will never be able to convince me otherwise.
I saw her at the red light. She was standing on the right side of the street, right outside of the Metro station, on her way to the mall. Her dress was high, low and tight in all the wrong (or right) places. Her heels were so high I thought she might fall forward. Her makeup was thick and her hair was done up in that messy “bed head” look that is reportedly ‘sexy.’
Underneath all of that, I could see she was actually very attractive. She was probably my age, maybe a year or two older. Her face was just… empty. My heart broke for her.
Here I was, griping because I had to stay a couple extra hours at a job that I get paid more than minimum wage to have. I had, in those couple hours, earned more than she planned on earning in her night tonight, and it would be so easy for me to judge her and say, “But I did mine decently.” Fact is, I don’t know her story. I don’t know the hell that brought her to this place. I don’t know.
And I can sit in my car and pretend to be decent and pretend like I never hit rock bottom and I never want to give up on myself and that all would be a lie.
Her next movement shocked me. She reached for her left hand– her ring finger– and pulled off a golden band. Her wedding band. She slipped it into her clutch and then waited for the light to turn.
As I drove past, I thought of her husband. What was their story? Did he know? Was he pushing her into this? Was she choosing this? Did she still love him? Did he still love her?
I thought about that act– of removing a wedding band before entering into a night that forsakes all that that band represents. It could be so easy to judge, but then I realized I can’t. How many times have I stood on a street corner, planned to do something unholy, made note of my so-called faith and then shoved it aside?
It compounded a lesson God has been teaching me over the past week or so– we all have the same story. It’s the Gospel– that’s it. That’s all we have and the story is the same for all of us– we are sinners, God loved us, He rescued us, He freed us, He has a purpose for us, He gives us worth and meaning.
It’s the same story. From the socialite in the mansion, to the mall security guard. From the aspiring writer and teacher to the married hooker on the corner.