Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Relaxation is a state of mind...I must've crossed the state line

Last week I decided it was about time to use the gift certificate for a massage that my mother in law gave me for my birthday last year. I discovered this little holistic health place when I was pregnant with Emily and got a couple prenatal massages there. The gift certificate technically expired in December, but I was prepared to fight them if they decided to be sticklers because come on! I got it in July, there's no way it should expire 5 months later (or EVER really, since they already have the money for it).

Unfortunately, I came down with a nasty head cold and fever yesterday (which prevented me from giving blood), and today I'm feeling pretty gross. But I decided to still go get my massage, since babysitting and everything was already arranged, and maybe it would help with my sickness-induced aching.

I walked in the door to be greeted by the sight of a man emerging from a treatment room with a stream of blood trickling down his forehead. I was more than slightly taken aback, but the guy seemed pretty chill and no one else in the waiting room seemed to notice, so I just took my seat and started filling out my questionnaire while the bloody guy went to the front desk to check out. If I were ever on one of those hidden camera shows, I'd totally be one of the people who notices craziness going on around her but chooses to ignore it, not one of the heroic people who stop to help.

So eventually the Unfriendly Secretary (hereafter referred to as U.S.) noticed the gore, and took the guy to the bathroom so he could wash his face off. In the meantime, the guy who owns the place stood in the waiting room making loud offhand remarks about how that happens sometimes when people on blood thinners get acupuncture and surely everyone knows that head wounds bleed out of all proportion to the trauma sustained anyway, with a heavy undercurrent of "Oh please God don't let all the clients get scared away by our blood-drawing accupuncturist".

Then my massage therapist came out to find me, and we went to the treatment room. She asked if there was anywhere I wanted her to concentrate on, and I said my neck and shoulders were sore. I also requested a tissue, because I couldn't imagine laying facedown for 30 minutes with a cold and not needing a tissue. She left for about 10 minutes, then came back without a tissue. I sniffed loudly, thus reminding her of the reason she had left in the first place, and finally at 12:12 the massage began, complete with nearby emergency tissues.

Apparently she took what I had said to mean I ONLY wanted her to massage my shoulders and neck, because that's about all she did. I definitely could've used some foot massage action too, so that was disappointing. She was also weird about giving me a running commentary about how the lumps in my muscles are "adhesions" where the muscles have torn and when they re-healed they attached to connective tissue (blech) and how they'll cause me problems in 10 years or so. She also did this weird thing where she had me lay on my back, then she shoved her hand under my shoulder and poked me while she moved my arm all over the place with the other hand. At one point she noticed the little catch I have in my shoulder, and said "Oh, that's because of an adhesion, I can feel you tensing trying to keep your arm from going in that direction". Um, #1 I am tensing because with all this crazy arm-flailing my modesty sheet is creeping down to a fairly un-modest level and I'd prefer to leave my bosom covered and #2 I have had that catch in my shoulder since I was a pre-teenage ballerina who couldn't do a port-de-bras without an unattractive arm jerk in the middle, so I seriously doubt it's injury or adhesion or whatever related.

The 60 minute massage finished at 12:52, bringing my grand total of massage time to a speedy 40 minutes. Then my therapist informed me that she wouldn't be downstairs when I got down to the desk, so she'd see me next time.

I was pretty irritated. Despite the strange arm manipulations and adhesion talk I had managed to get some benefit out of the massage so my muscles were feeling relaxed. I am also sick and feeling sorry for myself, so I between that and the generalized feeling of chill-ness I REALLY wasn't in the mood for a confrontation, but there was no way I could just ignore the fact that I only got 2/3 of the massage that I was supposed to get. After waiting while two people in front of me in the check out line argued with each other for a good 5 minutes about insurance and U.S. answered phone call after phone call, I finally got my chance. By then the arguing people had seated themselves and fallen silent, so I had an attentive audience for my confrontation.

Sara: Um, what was my masseuse's name?
Unfriendly Secretary: Jean* (name changed because I can't remember her real one)
Sara: She seemed to be in a hurry.
U.S.: Yes, she has an off-site appointment.
Sara: (after a brief pause to think of another less subtle angle of attack) Um, so when you have a 60 minute massage here, does the 60 minutes start when your masseuse comes to get you or....(trails off into expectant silence).
U.S.: {stares uncomprehendingly}
Two Arguing People: {listening with rapt attention}
U.S.: I'm not sure what you're trying to say.
Sara: (finally getting some courage) My massage was only 40 minutes long.
U.S.: Oh.
Sara: (takes off into nervous babble) Well she started at 12:12, I looked at the clock, and well, you saw her walk out the door exactly at 1 so there's no way I could've gotten a 60 minute massage and I looked at the clock when she was done and it was 12:52 so that's only 40 minutes....
U.S.: Hmm. Well she usually never hurries, what time did you say she started?
Sara: 12:12
U.S.: {looks at clock} I see. Well, I'll see if I can figure something out for you.
Sara: Ok, thanks. {leaves blaringly silent room in shame}

I just got angrier as I walked to the car. I was mostly angry at myself for the way I'd handled it (i.e. like a timid idiot), but also angry at the masseuse and the secretary. I was supposed to feel relaxed and happy after a massage! Instead I felt angry and tense!

My cell phone rang a minute or two later, and it was U.S. She told me she'd talked to my masseuse, and as it turns out she'd read the clock wrong. I'll bet you anything she was reading the clock on the wall that wasn't even working and not the digital clock by my head. Anyway, they are prepared to offer me a 1-hour massage at 50% off, and they really want me, the customer, to be happy, and please do call and make an appointment yadda yadda yadda.

So basically, in order to get my 60 minutes worth of massage that I had a gift certificate for (read: it was a gift and I didn't have to pay for it), I'm going to have to pay some of my own money for another massage. I probably would've been pleased at the prospect of a half price massage a year ago, but I've really been trying to be a responsible adult and focus on wasting less money on things we don't need, and massages/manicures etc. are lowest on my list of things we need.

It is nice that they're offering to make amends, but honestly this method of doing so has always really bothered me. At a restaurant, if I get bad service I'd much prefer having an item comped or being offered a free drink vs. a discount the next time I come. I've always felt like that kind of "apology" is nothing more than a sneaky way to get more business. The end result is that you give them more money when you really don't even want to go back there in the first place.

So I think I'm going to shoot them an email asking if they could just give me a free 20 minute massage or something like that. It's really only fair.

Plus I'm much better confronting people through a computer than in person, especially when my brain is fogged with sickness.

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