Give Massage Therapists a Break


Good morning, good morning! The temperature is great for sitting on the porch, If there is a breeze blowing out there, it will be refreshing.  I don’t have much time today. The stager is coming. I’ll share what’s on my mind today.

Back twenty-five years ago I did massage work. I couldn’t find a teaching job and I needed a part time job. My son was still a pre-schooler at the time. I had not completed my bachelor’s degree in nursing but I did go through three years. I learned the importance of massage for patients, and I remembered how much I enjoyed that part of patient care and the gratitude the patients expressed.

I found an instructor in a nearby town who operated a clinic in her home. The local police officers and city/county government officials were part of her clientele so she was never hassled. She had  an apprenticeship type program. She took on students one at a time. I showed her what I knew and she informed me that there were only a few things she felt I should learn. I had all the “book learning” I ever needed through my nursing courses. I had a certificate from her school in three weeks. There was a test from the American Massage Therapy Association which “legitimized” those wishing to practice. I passed the test the first time. I passed it again when it was required to become registered with the state.

I wanted to surprise my husband and I waited to tell him what I had done until I finished. He traveled out of town from Monday through Thursday nights so the topic never came up on the two weekends. I thought he would be happy. His response was far less than enthusiastic. He was looking at a woman doing massage from an 80s man’s point of view. ( and recently a man’s 00s point of view too) He really was not pleased but he was happy with the $25.00/hr that I was earning. It got me off his back about how he spent money I needed for myself and our son.

Back then, massage was just coming to the forefront as the move towards preventive medicine and holistic health care were emerging. There was no state regulation. In order to obtain permission to do work, I had to go to the city vice squad. They were regulating other than honorable massage establishments. They were the only game in town.

When I told them I would be working out of an established beauty salon in the high class area of the city and out of the YWCA, they said, “What are you doing here?” I told them I had no choice. I got my permit. I could only work on women, however. It was not legal for women to massage men. I did occasionally however when I took my table to the clients’ home. They would book an appointment for their husbands, practically BEGGING me to work on them when they were really stressed out.

I worked for two years on the state committee to get massage regulated. Now those same regulations are biting me back.  I would have to start all over with the whole class room, and clinical work experience involving a minimum of 500 hours of total training.  Out of curiosity I called five massage schools all approximately 15-20 miles driving distance. Two were wrong or non-working numbers. One had an answering machine. Another took my name and said they would have someone call. The last answered my questions.

The required curriculum for massage therapists is now 500 hours involving 5 to 6 months of classroom. Then there is a minimum 50 hour internship. The cost is close to $7,000. Once you factor in gas, it is more costly than that. That’s a lot of time, money, and  effort for someone to put in after retiring from teaching.

I let my registration expire a couple of years after I started teaching again.  I just couldn’t handle the overload of work associated with my classes, my growing son, and the beginnings of CFS at the same time. Something had to give. I was the president of the American Massage Therapy local chapter for two years. I taught baby massage classes. I taught elementary massage classes and relaxation techniques. I was really into this new profession and loving it. I reluctantly gave it all up.

I really miss the work. I have tried to start bartering my service. I’m such a stickler for honesty that I don’t like to accept money therefore being an official business with reportable income. I guess this is a mistake and perhaps thought of as being unprofessional, thus opening doors that should not be opened. I told a friend of mine that I used to be a massage therapist. He asked if he could pay for a massage. I told him I’d rather barter and we settled on a baseball game. 

His first assumption was that he would be nude. He asked if I used a sheet as a cover. I told him he would be in his boxers. I forgot to say or swimming suit. And yes, he would be covered with a sheet. Maybe I was just reading something into the conversation but I thought he sounded a little disappointed when I said, “This will be a legitimate massage.” I could be wrong.

This type of banter became uncomfortable for me. It brought back memories of telling a group of couples that I had recently become certified as a massage therapist. One of the guys got an insinuating tone to his voice and said, “Oh really? Can I buy you a house by the side of a lonely road?” Wink. He said that right in front of my husband which didn’t help his attitude a bit.

Gotta go help the stager set the house up for the internet pictures. Please come back tomorrow for the rest of my story if I have your interest by now. Namaste. Attic Annie

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