Bob* was in his 60s. Southern accent. Tall and not a slight dude (from what I could ascertain upon our face-to-face meeting, as he was fully clothed).
Bob sat down in the reception area of my office, grasping the clipboarded intake form but not yet filling it out. His words came at me in rapid-fire progression.
“Now I get massages every week back home. Can I just use a towel to cover my midsection?” (I use bath towels instead of flat top sheets anyway, but the asking of this question raised a bright orange flag…or maybe it was pink. Fuchsia? Anyway, internal eye roll. Resume transmission.)
“OK, I booked a ninety minute service today, but I need at least thirty minutes of massage on my lower abdomen.”
“I’m sorry Bob. I don’t do abdominal massage here.”
“Why not?! It’s the only way I can relax.”
“It’s my policy, no exceptions. I totally understand if you want to go elsewhere.” I ready myself to rise from my desk and escort him out of my office, but this guy is persistent. (Please forgive the bombardment of non sequiturs I’m about to lob your way, but this was my life last week.)
“I’ve been so stressed at work. I run six companies.” He pulls out his phone, points the screen in my direction and starts scrolling through photos of what I’m to assume are his crew and their work trucks.
“I got divorced in the ‘90s but I’ve been with my girlfriend for years. I’m leaving my business to her when I die.”
“I’m telling you this stuff so you’ll know some things about me.”
“I have two phones.”
“You really won’t do abdominal massage? How long have you been doing this?”
“You really won’t do abdominal massage? I don’t know what kind of massage you think I’m looking for.”
“You really won’t do abdominal massage? But I want to come in tomorrow and the next day too.”
“If you don’t do abdominal massage, what do you do?”
“When I was a little boy my mother would give me abdominal massages. It was the only way I could fall asleep.” (Mommy! An unexpected twist!)
“I’ll make it worth your time.”
“I’ll tip you really well.”
“One hundred dollars.”
“One time I was working with my crew in the woods and we got infested with ticks. I had to shave off all of my pubic hair but I didn’t realize I had to keep shaving it.” (This marked the turning point for me. Parasitic infections of the groin are not my area of expertise, and for good reason.)
“Bob, yeah, I’m not going to be able to help you.” I got up, keeping an eye on him, and made my way to the door. Still facing him I turned the knob and held the door ajar so he could exit. He did, but not before handing me his business card.
“In case you change your mind.”
“Bob, that’s not going to happen.”
Then I noticed that he had cleverly left his phone on my desk, so I exclaimed “Oh! Here’s your phone!” The last thing I needed was more alone time, here, with him.
I came to realize, partway through the convo, that Bob had called me several weeks prior from a different number (two phones!). During that phone call he wanted me to work “overtime” for “a really good tip” of “one hundred dollars” “if [my] husband didn’t mind”. Unfortunately for Bob, I was “booked”.
Adding to the absurdity was this: His persistence was completely unnecessary. In Vegas (as is true in many cities), you have so many happy ending options at your disposal you can’t throw a dead cat without hitting a rub and tug or rash for cash. I mean, Craigslist will bring the lower abdominal massage to you at no extra charge! (The explanation I’m going with is that some folks find my combination of profuse anxiety sweating and groundbreaking bathroom humor utterly irresistible.)
As a rejected Bob walked out the door and down the hall, I was prouder of myself than I had been in a really long time. Like a lot of massage therapists (or humans, even), in the past I’ve worked on people I should’ve fired five minutes into meeting them. Messed-up, battle-scarred people looking for a metaphorical punching bag. People who just make you feel shitty.
And I’m over it.
Call Mommy and have her pick you up.
*Not his real name.