August 19, 2010

Gender of-Fenders and Service with a Smile

I don’t like to think about sex in the context of massage, but I am somewhat ticked at what I see as some pretty serious whining going on amongst male therapists responding to Lynna Dunn's recent article about “discrimination” against male therapists.

Gentlemen, please put yourselves in the place of the person at the front desk, booking massages for multiple rooms and dealing with whatever comes their way in the form of client complaints. Any front office/schedule person, after five minutes in the massage business, will learn to ask that question. Why? Because a lot of male and female clients do not want a male therapist.

Is that right? No.

Is that fair? No.

Now get over it.

I sympathize, I empathize. I rage against human nature and its folly. Why is there such discrimination allowed in this enlightened age. But that won’t change hearts and minds. People are as people do. And most don’t ask for male therapists.

Massage is, after all, a service industry. We serve the clients. If the clients don’t want such an intimate service from a male, we can’t stand there and argue. Service means their problems, unfortunately, are our problems. Our problems get to stay our problems and should not be shared with the clients.

Sometimes this problem is sexual, sometimes it is about past experience and abuse, sometimes it’s about not having a perfect body.

On the occasions when I have asked clients about their preferences, I’ve gotten some pretty strange stories in reply. They may tell me about a creepy massage they had where the therapist seemed to be checking them out. One client told me that a male therapist had slapped her copious cellulite hip and recommended a local surgeon saying “Most clients who have this problem have it removed.”

On the bright side, I’ve had clients tell me they always ask for a male because they don’t want a namby-pamby application of oil from someone with weak wrists. One such lady told me she went to the spa only because she had a gift certificate. Otherwise she had a nice man come to the house and massage her “everywhere” for only $50 – for two hours.

Gentlemen, I feel your pain. I also know that in every other job I have ever had in my life, males have the advantage in pay, promotions and perks. So butch up!

August 15, 2010

Barefoot and Footsore

As a kid, summer meant running around outside barefoot, and being barefoot was freedom itself. We'd even brave hopping around on the hot asphalt next to the ice cream truck for five minutes if it meant hours of cool grass between our toes to follow after. Once my father told us we could get ringworm running around barefoot so much, and that spoiled it for a while. Since he didn't explain what ringworm was, we naturally pictured really agressive earthworms with ravening fangs, ready to burrow up through the bottoms of our feet. In the end, the call of the cool grass won out, so we just told him we'd decided to run around barefoot really fast.

However, it's been a while since I've found being barefoot particularly attractive. In the past few years especially, issues with hip dysplasia, etc. have made it much nicer for me to walk around in supportive shoes, often with orthotics. And I've spent a lot of money on shoes to do massage in, while skimping on other needed household items, since my work is my passion, and I want this body to last.

Ironic then, that I should recently find myself working as an independent contractor in a space where no one wears shoes. It's a comfortable, spa-type environment with a shoe rack by the door and a basket of slippers to encourage clients and employees to relax, feel and home, and probably not wear out the carpet. Which would be great if I didn't find working barefoot painful. And the whole issue is doubly ironic since I've worked at places before where therapists wanted to work barefoot and weren't allowed to do so--now I've landed rather in the opposite camp (which I didn't know existed).

I'm not exactly sure how to handle this problem at the moment. I've tried working barefoot, but it feels odd and my back hurts. I've tried taking off my shoes at the door, carrying them to my workspace, and putting them on during massage. But frequently I forget I'm wearing them and trot out to wash my hands in my Danskos. Has anyone ever heard of orthotic socks? This is one of those relatively little things that could end up driving me and my low back batty.

August 10, 2010

Five Things I Wish Job Applicants Wouldn’t Do

This is my edition of the B&M (B--- & Moan) Club and it comes after interviewing therapists for employee jobs providing massage, and reading a recent findtouch blog about how not-fun it is to be interviewed for massage positions at chiropractic offices.

True, I have sometimes felt disrespected during interviews when I was looking for work in massage, and it did not bode well for future business relationships. But I have been on the hiring end of the process. Not as a chiropractor, of course, but a hard-working therapist and spa owner. I figured I had a lot to offer, empowering therapists to do their best in a creative environment, and I assumed, eek, that most potential employees would be interested.
  1. If you arrive late, wearing dryer lint on the back of your jeans, I have to assume you have trouble getting to work on time and dressing in appropriate attire. If your neighbor drives you because your car is broken, and your child is with you because the sitter is sick, you do get points for perseverance. They do not outweigh the 500 red flags.
  2. If you have not been convicted of a felony lately, be proud of that. But know that if you tell me you weren't guilty and were forced to take a plea, and the unreasonable state parole office forces you to tell potential employers, I will think you have trouble taking responsibility for your actions.
  3. Lots of people in the business know where it is tough to work, so I don’t need a laundry list of your current employer’s dishonesty and lack of ethics. Do I need to add that it makes me wonder about your honesty and ethics?
  4. No matter how much you were adored at massage school, you still have to do a good massage with all clients. I’m not interested in dating you, or socializing with your buddies on the pro volleyball circuit.
  5. References should be to people you have worked for, who know your working habits and practices. Your clients should love you, and their testimonials are not references. P.S. Borrowing money from a client to buy a massage table is not a great way to show initiative.
Big sigh. I feel so much better now.

I know not everyone may agree with this list, but please, if you identify with it, makes some changes. It could spark your career.