Closing Down

Today’s guest post comes to us courtesy of Tracy Bradley. Tracy has been practicing massage therapy since 2003 in rural Arkansas. When not massaging she can be found sipping Cherry Coke, watching cat videos, reading massage discussions, or hanging out with her family. She publishes a client-centered blog at The Comfort Zone Massage. Her 8-year-old daughter creates stories about her two zany cats at Cat With a Chat. Tracy is moving over a hundred miles from home to begin a new adventure with her family!

***

One month and then my massage business is closed. A month. No more clients, no more sheets, no more hot towels, no more. I feel like I’ve never done this before even though I left a different place 4 years ago. I wasn’t as emotionally involved with that place, I suppose. This place, this business is like home. I’m leaving home.

What will I do with my hands now? Will they miss the feel of flesh gliding under their fingers? Will my skin shrivel up and dry out without the daily use of massage oil? My hands, who have caressed, kneaded, rocked, pushed, pulled, rubbed, and comforted humans for the past 12 years, won’t know what do anymore. Will they lead me around searching for an aching shoulder like a forked limb leads one to “witch a well” for water? I apologize in advance to those I hug. My hands will surely try to massage your back and shoulders in what should be a brief moment.

Have you ever closed your business? Have you ever had to tell your massage clients you’re moving away and never coming back? It’s a difficult task.  After almost 4 years working as a massage therapist in a small town I’m moving away. Telling loyal, regular, make-their-appointment-before-they-leave clients is one of the most emotional things I’ve ever done.  The first eight years of my massage career were extremely part-time. The past four years were more than full-time. They were full emersion. I fully devoted most of my brain, heart, and soul to growing this business and caring for my clients. And now it ends.

I spent the week telling clients I’m leaving. A few were devastated. Most were supportive of my family’s new opportunity.  We cried. We hugged. We talked it out.

I will miss these people. Even with “good boundaries” relationships are developed. People talk. Living in such a small town many of us go to the same church, family members work together, kids attend the same schools, we go to fundraisers together, etc. We conduct our lives side-by-side. Boundaries are there but they are different than someone who lives in a place they never see their clients outside work.

All this said, I’m ready for a break. I’ve been “all in” for quite a while to make sure I supported the family while my husband was in college. I loved it most of the time. The Hustle becomes such a rush!  You try something to get more clients and your week fills up!  You write a blog and people read it and tell you they like it.  You develop a way of doing things, communicating with your clients, and operating your business. You get shit done. You try a new promotion that flops but it is still a rush because you get to brainstorm again. It never stops: the planning, writing, researching, talking, etc. It can’t stop if you want to stay busy.

I’m tired. I’m ready to shut that part of my brain off for a while. I’m ready to see if there is a Tracy inside me. She wants to laugh and smile and read and write and play and stuff.

An Open Letter to the Unscrupulous Complainer

DISCLAIMER: This post is not about legit complainers and their legit complaints, such as the legit fly in the legit bowl of soup. This piece is not intended to dissuade any reader from reporting an actual crime, nor is it meant to serve as a rallying cry for those who doubt the validity of accusations brought into question by ensuing biological processes. The situations mentioned are intended to be broad and lacking in specifics, yet universally understood. To be clear, names aren’t named, because there are no names to name. (Apologies to my voyeuristic friends, but do take heart: Somewhere in the world, right now, TMZ is harassing a former child actor from a two-season 80’s sitcom.)

******

Picture yourself at the end of a long day of work. The fatigue, the satisfaction, the comforting knowledge that your family will be fed and the lights will stay on in your home because you spent the day away from them to earn a living serving others. You grab your coat, your lunch bag, and head for the door when you get a text from your boss: “Come see me in my office.”

Finding it unusual but thinking little of it, you make your way down the hallway to find your manager. You’ve been staring at this carpet for years; you like it here, and you intend to like it here as long as possible. Jobs like this don’t come around every day.

You enter the office. Your manager asks you to shut the door and take a seat, and proceeds to hit you with a heavy dose of WTF: You got a customer complaint today. A serious complaint. A complaint that calls into question not only your judgment, but your grasp of professional ethics, and the very essence of your character. A complaint that could cost you a week’s pay, your position with the company, and your ability to remain engaged in the career you’ve been committed to for years. A complaint your brain is struggling to comprehend – because it is 100%, indisputably, ridiculously bogus.

You are told to remain home for several days, pending investigation. The long days and sleepless nights that follow are sheer torture, and worry has spread to the rest of your family like a third world virus. What if you lose your job? What if you can’t get a new one? What if you can’t pay your mortgage? What if…?

Dear unscrupulous complainer, it’s quite possible that you don’t have a clue, so I’m letting you know that this is a fairly accurate description of what happens when you file a phony complaint, particularly in a larger business involving one-on-one consumer/service provider interaction. And what, pray tell, did you get out of it? Seriously, please leave a comment below, because I’d love to know.

I bet you didn’t consider that the innocent person you smeared is prone to panic attacks and racked up a hefty doctor’s bill, thanks to you. You probably don’t give a damn that the utilities didn’t get paid that week, just in case that career we’re talking about actually got flushed down the toilet you threw it in. I’m almost certain that you don’t care that this service provider is going to be borderline paranoid and overly cautious in every single business encounter he or she engages in for at least the next six months, if he or she is lucky enough to retain employment.

But getting back to you, because you’re obviously the only person around here who matters: Why did you go out of your way to do this? Was your wallet feeling a bit light this morning? Are you lacking the perception of power in other aspects of your life? Do you need to read a book about transference? I happen to have some good ones I’d let you borrow, if I wasn’t convinced you’d accuse me of inappropriate book lending.

— Andrea

 

Andrea Lipomi is a licensed massage therapist and esthetician who lives and works in Las Vegas, Nevada. She also peddles massage therapy ebooks and NCBTMB-approved continuing education courses at ConfidentMassage.com, will travel hundreds of miles for a fantastic spa experience, and craves dark chocolate and Depeche Mode’s upcoming tour dates on an almost daily basis.