Monday, November 15, 2010

Hurry Up and Wait -- The Details

I've been slow to post many details about massage school. In the first weeks of class, we were told of the need to respect client privacy and not even acknowledge a client when out shopping unless they said hello first. But stories keep landing on my table -- inspirational, humorous, and curious ones. So, while I haven't settled on how much I can and cannot say, and of course, names are out of the question, as a storyteller, I am compelled to say something.

Today, I'm tackling the subject of "hurry up and wait."

Our course is divided into three sections. First we hit the books. Next, (and where we are now) are our official days of internship with 50 "hands-on" hours required and most of us adding another 70 due to the need to cut costs of tuition. Lastly, we will go back to the books and practice tests so that we can pass what the state puts before us.

Most of my cohorts and I have heard similar comments about massage:

"How do you deal with the nastiness of feet?"
"What do you do about the big guys?"
"What's it like when you roll them over and see a hairy back?"
"What if a guy ... you know ... gets aroused?

The reason I know my cohorts have heard the same questions is that we have lots of time to talk. When more than 25 people are available for massages and you're depending on walk-ins to get the hours, we spend a great deal of time chatting. Supposedly, we are to wait in a small 10 x 10 room until the front desk calls to say we have an appointment. But (refer again to the above note on how many of us are in this program at this point) and you can easily deduce that space might be limited in what is known as the "intern room." Since you will rarely see me on a crowded elevator or on the escalator at a huge sporting or concert event, I take my slightly claustophobic self down to the cafe and set up a make shift office.

With my Mac, wireless access to email (but, curiously, not Facebook or YouTube), and a discount that ensures I'll have something to drink throughout the day, I'm good to go. I'm trying to keep my bills paid, so the time for freelancing is of great value.

However, I've learned not to count on long spurts of productivity. Inevitably, if I arrive at 8:45 a.m. and am set up by 9:15 -- with both my massage table and makeshift office ready for action -- I've got a visitor by 9:30. That small intern room starts overflowing downstairs to the cafe fairly quickly. That's when the storytelling and laughter begins.

We compare how many hours of actual massage we've accumulated. We wait to see who had the biggest surprise -- "I worked one hour on only a calf." "My young client moaned the whole time." "I got 'shooshed' by one of the instructors because my tapotement (tapping) was too loud." And we keep waiting for the receptionist to peek around the corner and call one of us away for an actual appointment.

Some adjusted their hours as soon as we realized 9 to 5 wasn't going to net us many massages. Though our class schedule is set, our massage schedule is adjustable. I now go in at ten and stay until 7 or 8 p.m. Mon-Thurs and add Sunday afternoon for good measure. Saturday is THE day to be there but my freelancing and volunteering usually have me booked. Plus, back to back (get the massage humor?) massages are hard on me now that I appear to be dealing with a pinched nerve.

When we do get a client, we're off! We make our way to the reception area where we are given the intake form. That's the source for finding out any issues, what degree of pressure is desired, and whether we are giving a 30, 60, 90 min or 2 hour massage. HINT: 90 min is perfect. Two hours means the intern is trying to fill the time. 60 min means you're going to miss out on something and especially if you have an issue. After 50 hours thus far, I can tell you, everyone has issues!

We then greet the client and have the time it takes to walk 50 feet to the elevator, ride up one floor, and walk another 50 feet or so to find out more about their needs, explain where they can take a restroom break, tell them to turn off their cell, and go over the procedure so they aren't too alarmed when we start working on their forehead the minute we get into the mostly quiet massage room.

"Mostly quiet" refers to the fact that there are only curtains surrounding each table, those curtains are on rings, those rings make noise every time you open the entrance to your space or hit the "wall" with your hip. Also we've got "soothing" music (if you don't count the track that is mostly static), men snoring, therapists whispering instructions, and plastic bags of laundry being collected and new bags being opened (you know that sound).

We take the client to the space, explain where to put clothes and that we need them to get "under the covers and face up" and then leave to let them get comfy. Those few minutes of waiting are usually filled with getting some info down on their intake form and adding them to our collective list of clients so that our hours are accounted for. I have the additional pleasure of getting my bandana tied. You see, I'm a sweat-er and if not properly attired I will drip.

Then, hoping my client has already closed his/her eyes, I enter Ninja-like and begin with breathing together and the face. By the time I've done the neck and shoulders, I've got my stride. Arms, legs, and back follow. We conclude with the scalp.

If I've done my job well, the client has a drugged look on his/her face when emerging from our curtained habitat, clothed and ready to evaluate me. I walk the same path back down to the reception area, leave them with the evaluation paper, and thank them.

Then I'm back up to the second floor to change the sheets on the table, check to see if any laundry needs to go to the collection area downstairs, and finally back at my makeshift office in the cafe.

And it's hurry up and wait all over again.

More on those round the table conversations in the next post . . .

1 comment:

Dr. John Fairless said...

Karen...thanks again. Your writing is probably much like the massages you are learning to give. I feel more relaxed and, somehow, more enriched for having spent a few minutes with you!