“The funniest thing happened during a massage today…” I’ve started several daily recaps with my wife with these words.
Maybe because I’m a “glass half full” kind of person, I seem to always find humor in my surroundings. Whether it’s an interaction with a client or one of the massage therapists in my office, I can’t seem to keep a lid on the funny stuff. Laughing with a client is part of giving them a relaxing, restorative experience. Sharing a chuckle helps relieve tension, takes the mind off stressful thoughts, provides better perspective, and strengthens connections with each other.
I think we massage therapists take ourselves too seriously sometimes, maybe as a result of trying hard to legitimize our profession or establish our expertise. Try meeting up with a colleague and share some amusing moments you’ve had giving massage. It’s usually when I meet informally with other massage therapists for coffee or an after work libation that the humorous work stories begin to flow. We seem to crave sharing these things with others who understand our lives with bodywork. Some things are just too funny to keep bottled up.
Here are a few of my special moments:
Clients say the darnedest things. I have a home office where I see some of my regular clients. Recently we’ve had workers in our home working on a major kitchen remodel. One day while our contractor was quietly working there, finishing some detail work, my long-time client (and even longer-time friend) Sherry comes by for her massage. After admiring our new kitchen, she suddenly shifts gears and with a big grin loudly states, “OK, I’m ready to get naked!” From the corner of my eye, I could see the contractor freeze for a moment, then resume his work. I showed Sherry to the massage room. Returning to the kitchen, I quickly explained that I’m a massage therapist and that my friend is a client and practical joker and I’m not having an extramarital affair. Big laughs, but I imagine I gave him a great story to share with his wife that night.
Believe it or not, wardrobe malfunctions can become part of the humorous landscape. One day about 10 minutes into a 90 minute massage, I felt something give at my waist line and was alarmed to see my pants button at my feet. The qualities of these particular slacks that I valued so highly for massage work – light weight, loose fitting, a little stretchy – immediately became liabilities. I was able to grab my waist band as the pants headed south to my ankles, and yanked them back up. I recall that for the remainder of the massage I focused on massage strokes requiring just one hand, or that allowed me to be seated. Thankfully I think the client never knew anything about it. Some combination of a stapler, rubber bands and masking tape held my pants secure about my hips for the remainder of my work day.
Sometimes we laugh because a situation could have been much worse but wasn’t. While giving a massage to one of my regulars, we both nearly jumped out of our skins when a bright flash and loud popping sound occurred under the massage table. He jumped up (fortunately wearing boxers) and I had to peel myself off the ceiling. A quick investigation revealed that a leg of the massage table crimped the electric table warmer cord, and one deep stroke too many caused the table leg to cut and short it out. Once the mystery was solved, we continued the massage with nervous laughter and the untherapeutic scent of ozone.
Is there an ethical boundary for humor? I steer away from humor with any sexual connotations, and avoid gossip, prejudices or anything that puts others down. Keep your comedic impulses positive, building up good energy. And remember that we’re not stand-up comics. We don’t need to entertain our clients for an hour with our wit.
“There is nothing in the world so irresistibly contagious as laughter and good humor.” – Charles Dickens