Minor Moral Gymnastics

I have a massage client coming on Sunday for a really long treatment session, as is his habit. He started off booking a 2-hour Thai massage that afternoon, and now wants to add a 1-hour foot massage. Um…I’ve never done a 1-hour foot massage. It’s usually 5 to 15 minutes, depending on the client. I don’t have 60 minutes’ worth of unique techniques for the feet.

Normally, I would tell someone this and suggest knocking it down to 30 minutes. I’ve even been known to warn a potential client if I seriously doubt my ability to help their particular problem – and apparently that level of honesty is so shocking that they book me anyway. I even understand why…a few years ago, I was 2 days into a 7-day Thai massage intro course, and my training partner took a call from a first-time client and booked her for a Thai massage that night, for $120 (in 2004…I don’t even charge that much in 2008!). I remarked, “but we won’t know enough by the end of the day”, to which she replied, “it doesn’t matter, it’s all about intentions.” $120 for intentions?? What the hell is she smoking?? And this from someone who looked down her nose at me for having a sense of humor and drinking caffeinated beverages with a splash of dairy product, horrors!

Anyway, back on point… It’s been a frighteningly slow month of business thanks to the teetering economy (remember, Lehman and AIG are within a 3-minute walk of my place), and it really should have been booming because of the marathon on Sunday. To give you an idea how nervous I am, I’ve been in this business for 5-1/2 years, and in that time there have only been 6 weeks when my earnings didn’t cover my expenses. Two of them were in February after the Bear Sterns collapse, and this month added 3 more to that total. This week I’m looking at just breaking even. So guess what? I’m compromising my ethics a little and will improvise for an hour. I’m able to justify it to myself because it’s not like I’m faking reflexology or anything like that – I’m just giving a foot rub. And in my experience, there’s no such thing as a “bad” foot rub (well, as long as it’s not ticklish!). I have books, I’ll bone up on a few new moves and hope for the best. He can always end it early if he wants.

I consider this a minor dilemma because…well, if you had ANY idea of the multitude and variety of opportunities a massage therapist has to trash her personal and professional ethics, you would never let your sister, wife, daughter, etc. become one.

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4 Responses

  1. Hi there-I reckon he will be none the wiser as to the techniques you say you have to improvise on. He’ll be in such a state of relaxation, you’ll be more worried than him!! Take care, have a good weekend!

  2. A one hour foot massage sounds great! Who wouldnt want their feet rubbed for one hour anyway? 🙂

  3. You know – I have had a 1, no maybe it was a 2 hour, foot massage – it was after I had knee surgery on my right knee and for some reason, my left foot was incredibly receptive. My whole body was electrified. I had my feets massaged for over 2 hours altogether and it was amazing. By someone with no massage training and no sexual touch – sometimes – the feets just want attention.

    Give the feets attention.

    Rub and rub, use elbows, wrists, stretch, pull and twist.

    One hour may push your sense of *your* skills but if it will make your client happy – and it sounds very indulgent – why not give it a whirl? There are so many connections in the feet (and man, with the problems I have been having with my left foot lately – I wish I had that 2 hour massage from four years ago!) – it can’t be bad thing! Go for it!

  4. I agree with jennconspiracy. The client probably wants a 1 hour massage to feel good. You may think you don’t have enough variation in techniques to cover the hour but just few techniques done over a longer period is all that would make this client happy.

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