by Marinka on December 8, 2013

A few weeks ago I had one of the worst massages of my life. I’m sorry that I can’t pronounce it outright the worst, but over the years there has been stiff competition.  Like the time a swanky spa asked me if I preferred a male or female therapist and once I expressed a preference for the fairer sex, assigned me to someone who was clearly in the early to middling states of gender reassignment. Which, really, no judgments, but why ask in the first place? Don’t bother answering. I spent the whole hour of my massage trying to figure it out and came up with nothing.

And then there was the massage where my definitely female therapist kneaded my back and said “wow, you have a lot of tension here” and then upgraded her diagnosis to “it may be a tumor, you should probably get an MRI.” She breathed the “MRI” slowly, letting each letter fall like a nail in my eventual coffin. Oddly enough, it added little to my relaxation.

This last massage was less dramatic, there were no gender bending questions and no referrals for diagnostic services. But the room was cold, her touch was phantom and for reasons that I don’t want to consider and/or dwell on, she made sex noises. “Mmmm,” she purred as she massaged what I assume must have been the area two inches hovering above my back.

As always, when confronted with people who try to be helpful, I sort of freeze. I mean, I want to acknowledge their effort and I’m embarrassed by their failure. I don’t want to rub it in, so to speak, so I become overly grateful, making a note to leave a tip that’s the polar opposite of what they deserve. The incompetence depresses me but because I’m sap, it makes me want to reward the person rather than reform them. This is one of the reasons that I’m not a prison guard, I suppose. “Congratulations on the whole murderous rampage!” I can see myself welcoming a new inmate. “I just baked some chocolate chip cookies!”

I don’t know why I’m so uncomfortable with other people’s failure. Partly I think it’s my discomfort in the very acceptance of service. I had my hair done, dyed, if you must know, and my 12 year old son came by the salon just as they were blowing it out. “Why is it taking so long?” he asked, having assumed, apparently, that for me the beautification process takes a few seconds. “They’re blow drying it straight,” I explained as his eyes glazed over. “These things take time.”

“That took forever,” he said ten minutes later, as we exited the salon. “But at least it was cheap.”

“It wasn’t cheap,” I told him.

“Two oh-seven,” he said. “Two dollars and seven cents is pretty cheap.”

“That was two hundred and seven dollars,” I explained.

“YOU SPENT TWO HUNDRED DOLLARS ON YOUR HAIR?” he gasped. “All they did was rake a broom through your hair.”

“What broom?” I asked.

“That broom through your hair.”

“That’s called a round brush,” I explained gently, “for blowing out hair.”

“Looked like a broom to me,” he said. Although in his defense, he doesn’t have a lot of broom experience.

And in my defense, my hair looked fantastic. Which is why I did not overtip.

One year ago ...

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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

anna whiston-donaldson December 8, 2013 at 10:25 am

I will come up with dramatic and heartbreaking scenarios about why the service was so bad, and what the people must be going through to make them so incompetent. Once my whole fictional backstory is complete, I can’t NOT overtip.


December 8, 2013 at 12:54 pm

Exactly. Or I decide that the service is so bad, this person is about to be fired and he/she is going to need that money.


Tinne from Tantrums and Tomatoes December 9, 2013 at 7:59 am

If by some bizarre twist of fate I ever become prison warden that is exactly how I intend to greet new inmates!


Mama bird diaries
December 9, 2013 at 8:23 am

Why do people get massages? I’ve had a few and they always feel awkward. Awkward and expensive.


Laurie December 9, 2013 at 11:22 am

I’ve never had a good massage. I’ve always wondered what the hoopla was about. Personally, I think they are trying to kill me by mashing me to bits, one part of my back at a time.

Don’t even get me started at the torture of the hot rocks the pedicurists insist on doing. Just throw them at me and get it overwith.


Nissa December 9, 2013 at 12:14 pm

I am with you on this one…..

There’s nothing worse than a bad massage, and I always feel compelled to tip well. Like it’s not their fault they stink at it. What is wrong with us?


December 9, 2013 at 1:02 pm

If you’re ever in Chicago let me send you to my masseuse she has never made sex noises and is definitely a she. Her worst offense is upselling me to buy a $30 heated aromatherapy neck pillow. (And it is pretty fabulous.)


awesome dude December 9, 2013 at 3:34 pm

Very few people can become competent in anything. These people are called normal human beings. And this is a minority.

Most of the people can only work for, let, say City Hospital Corporation or enforce parking law.

I feel that some filters in our society were removed.

Where is the good old time when people lived to a ripe age of 45 and every craftsman was a real master in what he was doing.


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