Inspired by this man, I henceforth offer myself as a Zoom video companion to anyone other than Laura Bates at a cost of £50 per hour, different times chargeable pro-rata. Laura Bates, £1,000,000, or £2,000,000 if she insists I not mute her microphone. Money payable in advance. A piece in today’s Times:
A Japanese man has earned an enormous online following and a modest living by renting himself out to the bored, lonely or needy as a companion who does nothing.
Under the name “Rental Person Who Does Nothing”, Shoji Morimoto, 35, has received thousands of requests for his services despite a lack of any particular personal or professional skills. For 10,000 yen (£70) plus expenses for travel and meals, he will meet, have a drink and chat a little, but nothing more.
In less than three years he has published books, inspired a television drama and acquired 269,000 Twitter followers. Grateful clients have included people who want a companion for a simple walk, to accompany them shopping, and in one case a person recovering from a suicide attempt. “Rent a person (me) who does nothing,” his online profile says. “I am always available, I won’t do anything except eat, drink and give a simple response.”
Mr Morimoto is married with a four-year-old child. He has a post-graduate degree in physics from Osaka University and worked for three years in a publishing company, but resigned after becoming bored.
In 2018 he posted a tweet that read: “I offer myself for rent, as a person who does nothing. Is it difficult for you to enter a shop on your own? Are you missing a player on your team? Do you need someone to keep a place for you? I can’t do anything except easy things.”
He originally offered his services free, but now charges to reduce the volume of requests and discourage time-wasters. He frequently spends time doing nothing very much with three or four different clients a day. Most of them, he reports, simply want to be listened to. One woman who has engaged him ten times took him along with her on a blind date and shared with him personal experiences such as a visit to a sex shop. “He listened to me without shaming me about going to the adult entertainment shop,” she told the Mainichi newspaper. “It felt like a support to just have him by my side without forcing his opinions on me.”
He avoids offering praise or encouragement. “I personally don’t like being cheered on by other people,” he says. “It bothers me when people simply tell me to keep persevering. When someone is trying to do something I think the best thing to do is to make it easier for them by staying at their side.”
He has been hired to have lunch, pose for photographs for Instagram, catch butterflies in the park and go to a wrestling match. One man hired him and described a murder he had committed, and another client was a former member of the doomsday cult Aum Shinrikyo, which released nerve gas in the Tokyo underground in 1995. Another hired Mr Morimoto to take him from the hospital where he was recovering to the spot where he had attempted suicide.
“I’m not a friend or an acquaintance,” he says. “I’m free of the annoying things that go with relationships but I can ease people’s feelings of loneliness.”
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