There is an invisible line in our profession, one that defines our ethics and morality. A line which we know exists but can’t see or touch. Sometimes that line gets muddied in the process of our conduct and sometimes it is blurred in pursuit for higher financial rewards or it may be deliberately crossed because of greed and ignorance.
During my latest visit to the island of Oahu (my regular hunting grounds), Hawaii, I arranged a trade: a massage for first aid education. We have to recertify in first aid every two years and one of the instructors is a friend of mine. Being a first aid instructor he knows many massage therapists and personal trainers on the islands. A trade is justified. He loves both my massages and instructing basic life support, we’re on a winning streak. It works for me.
In the process of reminiscing on the past (we haven’t seen each other for 18 months), he mentioned an incident he witnessed that somewhat perturbed him. He recalled a mutual acquaintance, a fellow professional who was going through a divorce. Whilst visiting with her husband she interrupted their discussion with: “Did he tell you we’re getting a divorce? I give happy endings to my customers and he doesn’t like that.”
Call me naive, a foreigner or ignorant but I didn’t click. I didn’t understand what happy endings mean, so my flippant response is “what’s wrong with that?“. I get the look and my instructor friend says no more. I don’t push the subject either, I don’t want to make him uncomfortable nor mar our professional relationship.
On return to town, I am contacted by a young man, new here, who would like a relaxation massage. I explain the way I work and the techniques I use during our telephone conversation and he accepts in order to secure an appointment at a short notice. I don’t want anyone to misconstrue the way I do business and build up false impressions. The intake is very much the same for all: an interview where we establish goals and discuss experience and expectations, then a range of motion testing and observation. Whilst the intake is same for everyone, the treatment is unique to the individual. He has a few medical issues for which massage is indicated and I get excited by the new challenge. Every client, every condition presents a different challenge which requires analysis and problem solving skills and I love that part of my job. His ulterior motives don’t surface until way after our first session is over. In his feedback he tells me that he didn’t notice any difference but really enjoyed his massage and was looking forward to seeing me again.
He books another impromptu session but requests intimacy and suggests the session at his house. Sadly, I can’t comply as my husband and I share a car and if I don’t prearrange I don’t have transport to carry the table. The town is far too windy for the cart and my bike. He reluctantly agrees to come to my house but insists on mere relaxation session. He puts heavy emphasis on my not including any kind of stretching or deep-tissue, fascial manipulation into the course of treatment. During the session he tells me about his previous massage therapist who he used to employ 3 times a week. He didn’t go into too much detail, however he eluded to wanting the same service as he had before. I just didn’t know what that service entailed.
On conclusion of our 90 minute session during which he tells me numerous times how wonderful I am he insists I carry on. I am starting to get the point and the happy ending concept is slowly sinking in. I walk out of the therapy room and ask him to get dressed. At this point I don't even care if he compensates me for my time or not, but as a gentleman he puts the cash down on the side table and makes arrangements for another session. I am somewhat reticent to accept. I don't want unethical pressure put on my professionalism, yet I agree to see him once more as I goad him out of the door. As soon as he drives away, a sigh of relief but then text messages flood in. Here, I mention just a few: “I wish I had the guts to tell you to finish me off! My previous therapist used to do that either by hand or mouth. And that is what I want 3 times a week.”
I am horrified. I am sickened by the fact that my fellow professionals believe that by giving high fives or cunilingus as part of the therapeutic service will elevate their professional profile. For someone like me, with a military background finishing off would without a doubt end in tears, and a long time watching the four walls of a prison cell – it is all a matter of interpretation. Needless to say that this client is not a keeper, there will be no further therapeutic relationship or engagement between us, and despite our arrangement he has not returned since. I am immensely relieved.
I may have a bad attitude and the wrong approach, and as a result I may never make it in the big bad competitive world of therapeutic massage. I do, however reserve the right to choose not to work with clientele of false expectations, than to demean and bring into disrepute the good name and hard fought reputation of my much loved profession. I am restrained by the line, the line I refuse to cross for the ill conceived, warped interpretation of humans, who don’t understand the meaning of my professional integrity and moral standing.
For my fellow professionals I have only the following advice: happy endings are prostitution, it is morally and ethically wrong, and it is certainly a grave misinterpretation of our code of conduct. Don’t do it! Please. Think about it: is it worth losing your reputation and integrity over a few extra bucks?
For prospective clientele who insist on, and expect that extra mile in way of sexual favours, please consider your own reputation also. One happy ending can easily end in blackmail, extortion, public injury and loss of face. However, if your ulterior motive is to get wanked off, please reread the above article and understand my absolute stance on this. I suggest that you avoid me like the plague as refusal can hurt your ego and cause unforetold injury.
This is all I have to say about that.