Last week I spent several days exploring Salt Lake City, Utah. The trip was straightforward and the vibe was laid back – until my brother-in-law and I drove by this billboard and I was left in a catatonic state of bewilderment. Maybe I’m missing a crucial SLC cultural reference or something, but I think the purpose of this advertising gem is to inform grown adults that they should get contracts in writing. Please correct me if I’m wrong.


Photo by my lovely and very patient bro-in-law, Derron Willison.

I live in Las Vegas, where you can’t drive down the I-15 without spotting at least six billboards featuring artificially busty swimsuit models promoting strip clubs, three billboards advertising shooting ranges equipped with machine guns, two for medical marijuana, and the random billboard that has something to do with cheating spouses and injured genitalia. For me, these aggressive advertising tactics form a soothing cocoon of cheap motel mattress comfort and prophylactic protection. The messages may be R-rated, but it’s home.

Anyway, back to the contract billboard — it got me thinking. Maybe there really are adults out there who don’t know that they should get contracts in writing. Maybe they’ll see this partially-obscured billboard as they careen down the streets of Salt Lake City on their haphazard journeys to enter into gentlemen’s agreements over the custody of their children, and they’ll brake suddenly and shout “Eureka! There really IS a better way!”, and lives change exponentially for the better.

My presumptuous nature isn’t limited to the realm of large scale highway advertising, mind you. I often assume that massage therapists and other assorted spa and salon professionals know a lot of things, only to find out later that I couldn’t have been more wrong. Here are some examples of things I thought were obvious to everyone, but clearly aren’t (based on observations made since entering the massage field a decade ago):

  • Double dipping your dirty hands into a jar of product that’s used on multiple clients is NOT okay.
  • Double dipping used wax sticks into hair removal wax that’s used on multiple clients is NOT okay.
  • Reusing porous, disposable items (nail files, foot files, buffers, sponges, natural bristle brushes, etc.) on multiple clients is NOT okay.
  • Flipping or stacking sheets so your next client has “clean” linens to come into contact with during her service is NOT okay.
  • Using essential oils on your own open wounds that may come into contact with a client (in place of a proper non-porous bandage) is NOT okay.
  • Touching a client’s open wounds or scabs during a massage is NOT okay.
  • If you handle your oil bottle throughout your massages, not cleaning it off between clients is NOT okay.
  • Dropping implements on the ground and using them on a client without properly disinfecting them first is NOT okay.
  • Interrupting a hands-on, paid-for massage to perform energy work that was not requested or expected is NOT okay.
  • Talking to a client as if you’re a nurse/chiropractor/mental health counselor/spiritual guru/witch doctor when you do not have these qualifications is NOT okay.
  • Taking a smoke break will mean you’ll smell like smoke for your next client, even if you can’t smell it. This is NOT okay.
  • Using bathroom spray instead of a professional disinfectant solution to clean reusable implements is NOT okay.
  • Texting while performing a service is NOT okay.
  • Reading The Young Thumbs while performing a service is…NOT…okay.

Please add your own obvious tips to the comments below, and keep an eye on those billboards.

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.