Monday, September 10, 2007

Pass The Soap

How to Get a Massage - Part 2
[Part 1]

Be Clean.

For the love of God.

OK, I'm not a Christian, so...
For the love of (insert deity or favorite yarn of choice here).

Picture this...

You're in a small, dimly lit room. There's soothing music playing, and you're almost asleep, anticipating your relaxing massage. In shambles a scruffy looking person. Their hair is greasy, there's some lunch on their shirt, and you can smell their feet from across the room. You realize, with horror, that this is your therapist! They look and smell as if they haven't showered in the last 36 hours and you don't want to be in the same room with them, let alone touching you.

OK. That scenario would probably (hopefully) never happen. Yet if you reverse the position of the players - it happens all the time. We would constantly get people on our massage tables who hadn't showered that day, who maybe just came in from a hike in the hot sun or 18 holes of golf. They are late from their game and don't want to miss a minute of their massage, so they skip the 2 minute rinse off shower and head right for the table. EWWWWW!

You don't need to shower 30 seconds before your massage (although,that would be ideal) but sometime between when you get out of bed and when your massage is scheduled - well, it's just common courtesy. And if you are late from hiking or whatever, you are much more likely to get your whole hour if you are a tiny bit later because you took a shower then if you end up on our table all sweaty.

The sweat makes it more difficult to massage. Not just the disgusting factor but it also makes your skin sticky and difficult to work with. And a swimming pool is not a shower, people. You sweat while you swim and it still creates the stickiness.

And the feet. Friends, I cannot emphasize enough, how important it is to wash your feet. Men, soap running off your body into the drain is not washing your feet. Apply soap to the feet, rub it in, rinse it off. That's washing your feet. This is a real sticking point with me as in every massage I give, I pay particular attention to the dogs. They take a lot of abuse and rarely get any attention. Every step we take is 3 times our body weight through our feet, when we run, it's 5 times. The feet need a massage. In the summer, as therapists, we get the nasty, black sandal feet and in the winter we get the smelly, musty, been-in-shoes-all-day feet. sigh. Wash 'em. Please. Even if you don't want them touched. Please.

The worst two I ever dealt with...

This guy had not showered and was sweaty. Sticky. And there was a weird odor in the room when I came in. (Never a good sign.) When I finished with his back, he told me I'd worked on him before, "about a year ago". "Did I?" I said as I undraped a leg.

Then the stench hit me.

So hard, my head did the involuntary snap-back. His feet. I think this guy actually had a medical condition but his feet were so bad, the smell gave me an instant headache and I became nauseous. "Oh yes, I remember you," I said, trying not to gag. Even if he did have a condition, I doubt it precluded him from actually showering as the rest of his body indicated.

The other time was also a guy (which is not to say I haven't had unwashed women, happens all the time). I was upstairs trying to see if my next client had shown up as it was 5 after the hour. I see he is running in and as he checked in, I went back downstairs. He looked vaguely familiar. When I went to the waiting area to call his name, "Ken." He stood up and said, "Kenneth. You're Ruth, right? I was in the class behind you at DIHA [our massage school]." "Oh yeah," I said but what I though was, oh crap.

No one ever wanted to work with this cat because he never washed (our classes would mix together in the elective courses). Sure enough, he had just come down from a hike and that's why he was late. (No shower. From when he checked in to when he showed up in the waiting room, there was no way.) I asked him to start face down and when I came into the room he was face up. He said he preferred to start face up. No problem, it's his massage and that's no bigee. But when I came in, he was doing these weird swooping movements with his legs (one at a time) under the sheets. "I like to stretch before my massage." Ooooookay. So I start to work on him. He's talking about the spa he works at in Phoenix.

I'm only half listening as I get more and more angry at how filthy his skin is. Sticky and dusty and sweaty and smelly from his recent 5 mile hike. When I have him turn over to work on the back of his body.... I almost threw up from the dirt balls I was rubbing off him. Dirt balls are created by mixing massage, massage lotion, and no shower.

I cut his massage about 10 minutes short, explaining that I couldn't go over because I had someone schedule after him. In truth, he was really only a couple of minutes late (which means he actually missed about 15 minutes of his appointment). After a massage at the spa, we step out of the room and get a cup of water for the client while they get their robe on and come out. As I was waiting with his water I looked down and saw one of his dirt balls stuck to my forearm. I calmly plucked it off my arm and put it in his water. I couldn't help smiling as I watched him drink it down. (OK. Not one of my finer moments but it was his. I was just returning it.)

I think what pissed me off the most with Kenneth was that fact that he is a massage therapist and should fucking know better.

Whenever I get a massage for myself, I try to schedule it so I can shower right before I leave to go to my appointment. Even then, when I get there, I usually go to the bathroom and rewash my feet. I love having my feet worked on and want to make sure they are ready. I definitely do this if I showered a couple of hours earlier.

I know. I'm being anal about this and driving the point home probably more then it needs to be. But y'all have no idea how horrible it is to have to work on the Great Unwashed. It's a matter of common courtesy and respect and in the end, that's all anyone can really ask.

Still traumatized by stench, Ruth!


sophanne said...

o.k. I threw up a little bit in my mouth after reading that. I am SO GLAD that my intuition was correct for my massages. shower-then massage. I'll double check the feet next time for sure!

Susan said...


knitnzu said...

GROSS! Ok, I admit, I don't always wash my hair if I have a massage that day...but I don't always wash it every day (and if I'm having a massage I at least washed it the day prior)... Feet, yeah, gross. Dirt balls, ewww. Working out, hiking, etc and coming unshowered? Super Gross!

Yarnhog said...

Ick, ick, ick, ick, ick. I always schedule a Vichy salt glow (a shower and scrub) before my massage. And I shower before that. Ick.

Anonymous said...

Nasty! I can't imagine going for a massage without showering first. YUCK!

uberstrickenfrau said...

In honor of you my dear Ruthy,I took a shower today and scubbed the tar outta my skin.;o)

Kim said...

So gross! I love that you put his dirt ball in his water and he drank it!!! That is so great.