In Sickness and in Massage

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By Clyde Andrews

Ever tried to take a day off?

Whether that means taking a personal day or because you’re actually as sick as the proverbial dog, it doesn’t matter. We all need time off at some point outside of our usual holidays. In life, ‘things happen’ but whoever spoke those words clearly didn’t consider the clients of massage therapists.

Taking a day off can get tricky, as I learned all too well recently.

“What? You’re having to reschedule me!” the startled voice on the other end of the phone line squeaks in a tone punctuated with the sheer terror of someone standing on the precipice of a very tall cliff face, contemplating the possibility of having to jump.

“Yes, it’d be for the best. I’m not (cough, sneeze) well at all,” I croaked in a voice that a chorus of drought-desiccated frogs would have thought sounded harsh.

After I’d spent the weekend with something far more life threatening than man flu, I simply couldn’t look after someone else. I had to make the difficult decision to reschedule (or cancel) my clients for a couple of days – a fully booked out Monday and Tuesday of clients, I might add. Sixteen people!

“When can I come in then?” is usually the reply from clients once the sheer unadulterated horror of the news had been processed.

At this stage, even my relatively lightweight smartphone was causing my arm to strain against one of the Four Fundamental Forces of Nature: gravity.

To be clear, out of the 16 clients I had to reschedule, 14 said that they would be happy to wait until I was fully recovered and wished me a speedy recovery. There were two, however, who were contemplating selling a family member to Asclepius, Roman God of Medicine, to get me better in the time it took them to get into their cars and drive to my clinic.

Rethinking the sale of a loved one, a weak, surrendering voice replied “All right but let me know the second you’re better. I really need you to fix me as my team’s playing in the finals this weekend.” The tone of that last sentence was one of firm determination, spoken with a gravity that made it clear that, if they didn’t win the final, then the whole world would be sucked into a hole so deep we’d all appear inside out on the other side of the universe. This conversation ended with that now impossibly heavy phone sandwiched between my ear and a pillow.

Rescheduling or even – god forbid – cancelling appointments is the only choice we sometimes have when we’re sick. This is a difficult thing to do, especially when you’re self-employed. After all, having no client on the table means no income for a lot of us so taking time off isn’t something we choose to do simply because we suddenly feel the need to stare at our navels. We take time off when it’s absolutely necessary and even then it’s under extreme protest.

But … as therapists, we have the most important and profound three words we can utter in times like these for clients seeking an appointment:

“I’m fully booked.”

Being human, we like to be given choices: just look at any supermarket tinned tuna section. Do you need the ‘hook and line’ caught tuna or the ‘ecologically’ caught one?

Massage therapists excel at giving people what they want even when they don’t realise it. Putting that innate desire for choice into practice for our profession, an example would be:

“I’m sorry, I’m fully booked for the next couple of days but I’d be happy to squeeze you in on Thursday at 4.00pm, or Friday at 6.00pm.”

The emphasis is on ‘squeeze’. That word immediately sends a signal to the recipient’s brain, urging them to make a quick decision. This is because all they can think about right after hearing the word in that context is that this person really is busy and if they don’t make a choice right now, they’ll never get their hamstrings massaged before that universe-shattering final.

Trust me, taking a day or two off is perfectly fine. People do understand. If you happen to lose a client because you were sick or needed time off for a very good reason (e.g. sick family member, funeral, award ceremony) think about one thing and one thing only: the world won’t get sucked into another dimension because of that lost client.

Look after yourself; you are your most important client.

About the author

Clyde Andrews is based in Craigieburn, Victoria. After some 25 years in a dead-end retail job, Clyde’s mid-life crisis didn’t take the form of buying a Lamborghini or a Bugattti Veyron, but rather, the need to help others -and besides, having such a nice car would have played havoc on his OCD as no one would have been able to even breathe on it. He took the plunge and after almost three years at MIMT, Clyde now has his own business and is quite happy working for himself, at his own pace.


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