“Open for Business?”

“What?” I responded, not entirely sure what she had said with my headphones on.

“Open for business.”

It was a statement on a question. “Oh… No, thanks.”

The canal near my apartment is lined with grass, a walkway for pedestrians, and a bicycle lane.

open for late night business

It also has a series of locks for the occasional narrow barge to move up and downstream. Each lock has a walkway that can be used to cross over and as I was crossing one, a tall brunet was crossing on the other side of me. She was wearing a somewhat classy evening dress as if she had just left a dinner with someone, and was relatively attractive. It was as I was waiting for her to get off the well-lit cross-way that she said those words to me and I realized she was a prostitute looking for business. Or at least letting me know she was open for business.

It was a little startling to have someone offer me her services at 10:00 o’clock at night on what seemed like a relatively decent section of roadway, where I imagine young lovers walking hand in hand, and late-night joggers getting in a run before heading to bed. My only previous experience with hookers involved walking uncomfortably through the red-light district in Amsterdam, where I was more worried about my wallet getting stolen than the girls knocking on the windows at me.

A few weeks later, after that experience, I was once again walking down the same section of roadway back to my nifty little apartment. This time it was about 2:30 or 3:00 in the morning after a night of hanging out at a local pub with some friends. As I was walking, this time just following the path, a woman came up to me and says something similar to the other. The difference being this woman had long stringing grey hair, a saggy face of someone who should have retired many years ago, and skinny arms of someone who spent her earnings on more than just food and rent.

Having had a few drinks and feeling a little more brazen than usual I asked, “How much.” not interested in paying, but curious as to what someone would actually pay for a prostitute off the street.

“100 for sex, 40 for a blowjob, and 10 for a feel.” She responded with a strong Irish accent.

“A feel?” I asked, “What’s that?”

“Ya, know. A feel,” she responded while moving her arms to show me that ten euros would give me the opportunity to touch her in places I had no interest in touching.

“Oh. Yeah, no thanks. I don’t really have any money.”

“My, car is right over there,” she said while motioning to a side-street that ran to meet the one that ran along the canal.

“No. I’m not interested.”

“You came up to me,” she then said indignantly.

“Um, no. You came up to me. I was just walking.”

During this conversation on the opposite corner of where we were, and in the direction of her car, a man had walked up and was standing and waiting. He looked to be middle-aged, maybe a little older. He had a bald head on top and short hair on the side, with a nicely rounded belly that probably comes in handy around Christmas when the kids need a Santa’s lap to sit on at the local mall.

The lady noticed him roughly the same time I did and realizing that she wasn’t getting anywhere with me walked away. The remainder of the walk to my apartment left me feeling a little dirty just for having the conversation.

To be clear, I live in a reasonably decent area of the city. I’m on the south side of the river, nice apartments and houses near me, and apparently a selection of ladies of the night to choose from who are open for “late night business.”