One of the weirdest parts of being a massage therapist is the less-than-classy questions people will ask. It happens much less now than it did 10 years ago when I started in this business. But every so often I’ll get introduced to a new person, and the crass oaf will say. “Do you give happy endings?”
And we all have ‘that friend’ who (repeatedly) posts stupid massage jokes on our Facebook wall, because they think it’s hilarious. Ugh.
It can be tricky to handle these awkward confrontations. It can be trickier to handle these confrontations and not be a catty jerk who embarrasses and alienates the poor oaf. (Or maybe that’s just me?)
For me, it helps to have some scripts ready when these things come up. I need to think about what to say and practice it, so I don’t get all stupid or pissy in my response. And so I don’t just laugh and blow it off and feel like crap about my lack of response later.
So I checked in with a few friends and pulled together our favorite responses.
When you get the dreaded, “Do you give happy endings?” questions
“Weeell, no. Because I’m not a sex worker. I’m a trained and licensed health professional.”
I like to be clear, and use the actual words instead of catering to innuendo. It deflates the whole cheeky joke thing.
You can say it harshly and get all catty about it. But there’s not really a point to that. You want to gently but firmly educate someone without shaming them. Partly because you’re not a jerk. Also because they will understand and retain the lesson better if they are not made to feel stupid and defensive.
This is not the best time to go all out with a lecture on how disrespectful that little ‘joke’ is to all massage therapists. That becomes apparent when you say the words ‘sex worker’.
Once you get out that response, you have two choices. You can change the subject entirely, “So what do you do?” Or just keep talking and tell them about your work. “I’ve got an office in Plainville, mostly working with people who sit at desks all day then run marathons on the weekend.”
My friend Leslie says, ”Almost all my clients leave happy, but it’s never because of sexual services. That would be illegal and completely not what I do for a living. Happy endings are for Disney and the library. Sexual services are for prostitutes.” She’s got a kickin’ sense of humor and can pull that off.
My friend Ian responds, “Everyone gets one massage sex joke, and that was yours. You totally wasted it, by the way, I’ve heard way better.”
If it happens in the office, my friend Tracy likes to inform people that by asking that question seriously, they are soliciting sex, breaking the law, and setting themselves up for a call to the police. That’ll deflate their casual, stupid humor pretty quick and likely ensure it doesn’t happen again.
When the inappropriate jokes are virtual
There are equivalents to this silliness in the virtual world. People share junk like this all the time, and occasionally post similar ‘jokes’ on my profile, or even my massage business page.
You may be great at just ignoring these things. Or you may be like me, and feel that this teaching moment should be utilized.
This is a time for a private message:
I wanted to let you know that I deleted the link you put on my wall. I know you had only good intentions and thought I would find it funny. But I need you to know that I did not, and I think it’s important that you know why.
I take my job seriously. I have extensive training in massage, I maintain my licenses and certifications, and I run a business that serves my community.
So when you post a video that makes a joke, and an uncomfortable joke at that, about the services I provide, that’s a problem.
I would never want anyone to think those kind of shenanigans go on in my massage room. I would never want a current or potential client to see that on my wall and think I would be disrespectful of their comfort and privacy.
So I hope you understand why that ‘joke’ isn’t funny, and that you’ll consider not sharing things like this in the future. Not with me, or anyone.
Yes, it’s wordy. But I think that response also strikes a nice balance of kind, informative, and firm.
How do you deflate these situations, without putting someone on the defensive, so it can be a useful exchange?