June 1, 2010

Celebrity Massage Careers

A client asked me the other day if someone--a very wealthy person or even a celebrity--asked me to be his or her personal therapist on a yearly salary, would I take the job? She added that Bob Hope had a personal massage therapist and she was sure there were others out there who employed personal massage therapists. "Mmmm," I said hesitantly, trying to picture myself massaging Bob Hope everyday. "I really don't know..."

And I really didn't know. What makes it an interesting question is that it is a job choice for a massage therapist, just like running a single private therapeutic practice or working for a large spa or working on a cruise ship or strictly doing chair massage at events and street fairs. Okay, it's a choice that probably won't present itself often, but thinking about it might help one solidify one's thinking on the types of massage careers one does or doesn't want to have.

Unlike asking "What would you buy if you won the lottery?," the question "Would you become a personal, salaried massage therapist?" is not so simple, probably because it involves both societal and market norms. For example, could you work for someone everyday who threw screaming tantrums and hit her personal assistant in the head with shoes and cell phones (e.g. like a famous supermodel)? I couldn't. What's worse my personality doesn't say "step away calmly" when hypothetically struck with a cell phone, my personality says "feed her the cell phone." So great, now I've lost my salaried job from hell and am doing prison time for assault and battery.

Now the potential benefits of such a job are obvious: job stability, financial success, no worrying about marketing, the possibility of meeting Bob Hope's friends for autographs, etc. But the potential drawbacks make up a much larger list, in my opinion: skill stagnation, feeling like a servant/slave, dealing with or dodging various kinds of abuse, dealing with having both a strong social and market-based relationship with a client, and--most importantly--not being able to reach out and help a large variety of everyday people because I'm all tied up with Bob Hope.

So I guess I would have to say no. Okay, maybe. If the contract and the person met a long list of criteria. So for example, if President Obama asked me to be his personal massage therapist, I could feel good that helping him was indirectly helping the entire country. He'd be too busy to fixate on our relationship, and he seems too polite to even consider hitting me with a cell phone. He has plenty of other employees, so he'd never ask me to house-sit (what a laugh, huh?) or cook meals for him if he gets cravings. He's generally surrounded by people, though, and that might set of my claustrophobia like Mardi Gras Eve on Bourbon Street. He also makes a lot of far-reaching international decisions; and I have a fear of coming home worrying myself sick about the fate of peace talks with some small Asian country when "Mr. B" doesn't have the most relaxing massage experience.

Yikes... guess I'm not ready to make any decisions on being a personal, salaried massage therapist anytime soon.

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