"While in massage school, I had an instructor from one of the other programs the school offered. He had never had a massage before. I was considered one of the best massage students at the school, so he came in during my clinic hours to get a massage from me. As a professional-in-training, I never had any issue massaging other males, so I led him into the therapy room and instructed him to undress to his comfort level and briefly left the room. When I came back in the therapy room, he was face down on the table as instructed with his shirt off. I immediately noticed that something didn't look right with the skin on his back, so I politely asked him if there were any skin or muscle conditions he had that he maybe forgot to put on his med forms. He stated he did not, so I proceeded with the massage.
I put lotion on my hands and touched his back and to my disgust realized why his back looked weird to me in the dim light. His back was a minefield of giant blackheads. His back literally looked like the surface of the moon. I started to panic and wasn't sure what I should do. I knew if I was going to make this a career I had to get used to things like this and act professionally. I continued the massage. As I'm massaging his back, it feels as though I'm down stroking bubble wrap. It's like there's Nerds candy under his skin. As I start to warm the skin and get the blood flowing on his back, some of the blackheads start working loose. They are now coating my hands and getting stuck between my fingers. There's a weird smell that starts filling the air. By this point, I'm sweating and getting increasingly nauseous. I'm not sure how much more I can take and I'm desperately trying to come up with an excuse to end the massage as professionally as possible and without hurting this nice man's feelings.
Luckily, just as I'm about to end the massage, his phone starts ringing and he gets a voicemail. He sits ups and thanks me for a fantastic massage, but he has been expecting a call and has to end the session early. I'm so relieved I can barely contain myself. I leave the room to let him get dressed. I proceed to the bathroom to wash up and look at my hands. They are covered in a greyish, lotion and blackhead stew.
I remained in the bathroom and wash my hands for the remainder of my clinic day."
"My worst horror story was a guy that came in for a massage. I can totally deal with a little bit of body odor, but this guy... holy guacamole. The entire clinic reeked of hid BO when he took off his shirt. It was very obvious that this guy did not shower or change his clothes nearly as often as he should.
By the time his massage was done, his singlet was covered in yellow stains. It was the worst massage I've ever done; I was almost gagging on the smell. He booked again, to my horror, and I told him, 'Hey, next time you come in I want you to have a nice hot shower beforehand so that your muscles are nice and relaxed.'
Did he? No. No, he did not. I asked him if he had showered and he said, 'Oh yeah, I did the other day.' Cringe."
"I'm a male massage therapist. When I first started at my job, I had a male client grind into the table while he was prone (lying face down). When I had turned him supine (face up), he asked if I could massage his stomach. I started my stomach routine but was aware of a different consistency on my hands. Something that wasn't my oil. I was desperately trying to figure out what it was (had I accidentally mixed oils?), when the treatment had ended.
He tipped me $100 with a big grin and left. I knew what that strange consistency was now. After my shift, I went to the bar my buddy worked at and spent the $100 on a giant burger, three packs of smokes, drinks, and tipped them the rest. I didn't want anything to do with that dirty money. It taught me to be more aware and direct with the client when that stuff starts happening."
"I had a client who, it turns out, was my first repeat request. I was excited that I was finally starting to build clientele! When I greeted him in reception, I felt like something was off. He was talking loudly and asking if I remembered him (I didn't, really. I was a little vague). On our way to the room, I asked him what he wanted to focus on in this session. 'My bum' was his reply.
In the intake, he kept saying he wanted his 'bum' worked and his belly rubbed (I told him I don't to that). He also insisted there would be a great tip for me if I 'took care of him.' I asked him to clarify what he meant by all this, but he remained vague. I decided to give him the benefit of the doubt, I didn't want to end the session when he technically hadn't propositioned me - but I had a really bad feeling.
About a minute into the massage, he asked me to remove his blankets. I told him that wasn't possible, as we needed to maintain a professional boundary. He threw them off anyway, and for a moment was laying there face down and totally naked. And that was my official cue to throw the creep out!
It's nice to be able to laugh about these things now, but the truth is it was really upsetting. Being alone in a room with a strange naked man who wants you to play with his booty is not as cool as it sounds."
"My cousin Bryan is a massage therapist. He has a degree in sports medicine, years of experience with rehabilitation and physical therapy, and runs a massage business.
One time, he was working on this big NFL player, who was 6 feet 5 inches and weighed close to 300 lbs. The guy had some back problems. The guy was so big, Bryan had to stand on a stool to get high enough to get leverage to get his hands and elbows on this guy's lower back. He's massaging away, the guy says, 'More pressure' and asks for a more firm massage. He's done this before.
Anyway, Bryan is moving his elbow down this guy's lower back when all the sudden the guy groans and explodes. Poop just comes flying out of his butt, into the sheet. Poop drops out the sides of the sheets, it hits the floor, the guy is farting and pooping, seemingly uncontrollably, and he's actually crying.
One thing leads to another, and the football player sheepishly pays (with a huge tip) and apologizes, then leaves. Bryan and another employee are left cleaning up the horrible mess. Quote from Bryan:
'He must have had some kind of intestinal blockage I broke loose because the poop smelled awful. It was like it'd been in there forever. It was black, like pitch black, and it was revolting.'
About a month later, the guy shows up again and talks to Bryan one on one. Turns out the guy had like the best game of his life, and was more mobile and felt fantastic. He claims that Bryan must have broken something loose because he's got more mobility than he's had in years. I guess he's been coming back weekly for the past few years and has not pooped anywhere. But he still tips like double the cost of the massage."
"I worked at a pretty reputable salon and day spa. I did have the occasional weirdo or oddity.
There was once an Orthodox Jew from New Jersey (crazy accent! long curly sideburns, long beard, and circle glasses) who asked for an hour-long butt massage. He claims he injured his 'backside' by falling down a flight of stairs on his butt. At one point he pulled the sheet off his bare hairy butt and pointed to where it hurts the most. I replied, 'Abraham, I'm sorry, but I'm not going to massage your butt crack,' and covered him back up. Longest hour of my life.
Then there was a creepy car salesman type guy. First off, he brought his own lavender massage lotion for me to use so we could 'spice things up.' I told him it was against salon policies to use anything other than what we are provided by the salon (I lied). Then I asked him where his problem areas are. He responded by showing me on me where his back hurts. He asked me to turn around and put his hands on my waist and slid them up and down. Sorry, but when the doctor asks you where it hurts, you don't point to the doctor's ear and say 'right there.' Needless to say, his massage was cut short.
I once had a big-chested retired teacher: Her sweater kittens were so gigantic, her head wouldn't reach the face cradle. This was one of my first clients after finishing my massage therapy schooling. My instructor never mentioned how to handle a situation like this. There are massage tables with cutouts for the chest, but she wouldn't even fit in that! So I raised the face cradle as high as it would go... still too low. I tried to balance her out by putting a pillow under her stomach. She got on her hands and knees as I tried to slide the pillow underneath her. Something was in the way. I lifted the sheet slightly to see and realized her chest was still on the table. She was on her hands and knees and her kittens were still on the table. Whelp! Got the pillow underneath her and it ended up doing the trick. My massage instructor informed me after the fact that I should have just asked her to lay on her side.
Then there was the Renaissance Fair beer man with a mullet and long beard. He weighed no less than 300 or 350 lbs. He was the nicest guy in the world, but was also the hairiest! He warned me before the massage of his excessively hairy back. His back hair was about two inches long and thick enough for me to run my fingers through (similar to a shag rug). I had to use about half a bottle of lotion to saturate the mass. I made patterns and designs in it. When I was done, I told him it looks like he has crop circles.
There was another time when a vegan, organic, mental patient with allergies came in for a session. She brought three bottles of lotion for me to mix together before I applied it to her ('two squirts of this one, one squirt of each of the other two'). She needed a lot of back work done, but she didn't want to lay on her stomach or her side. I had to massage her back while she was laying on her back. That was tricky.
Finally, there was the never-nude old lady. I entered the room to start the massage and she was on the table just fine. I pulled the sheet back, and she had on a spa robe. I have no clue where she got it, or why she thought she needed it. Nothing was ever mentioned about a robe. How do you handle a situation like that without making the person feel like an idiot? 'I'm so sorry, I forgot to mention that there's a spot behind the door to hang your robe.'
I have many many stories, but those are the ones that stand out the most."
"They warn you about this guy in school, but I never thought I was going to meet 'The Guy With No Social Boundaries.' I was warned ahead of time that the guy I was going to massage was being escorted off the premises after the session. It was an annoyance to other guests, not a security issue, so I agreed to massage him.
By the time I had walked him from the check-in area to the room not 15 feet away, he had already insulted me three times. After he had changed and was on the table prone (face down), I knocked and walked back into the room. He was resting on his elbows and I asked if he had any issues placing his head and remaining prone for a half-hour. He snorted and said, 'Oh, it's not that big.' For the rest of the time, I had to steer his conversation from really touchy subjects to more appropriate ones. He just had no qualms whatsoever sharing anything in his life with anyone and didn't realize he was loud, obnoxious, rude, and inappropriate."
"When I first started doing massages about 15 years ago, I was working in a fancy spa-type setting. I was doing a couples massage with my coworker. I was massaging the lady and she was massaging the gentleman. Well, unfortunately, the gentleman had a Sacagawea coin-sized, pus-filled blister on his back that popped during the massage.
Every time my coworker made a pass down his back, puss would seep from the blister. Our clients were both face down, so we were making the most wretched faces at each other to express our disgust as my coworker did her best to avoid touching the yellow mess. Throughout the course of 10 years I did massage therapy, I saw some interesting things and met some characters, but I will never forget that blister.
In retrospect, I don't know why we didn't say something about it to him. I guess we figured he must have known about it because it was huge!"
"I am still fairly new to massaging. The worst thing to happen so far was when I was in the student clinic. There were about six rooms divided by hospital curtains that we would massage in. I had one gentleman who came in with lower back pain. No big deal.
Little did I know how good I actually was at massaging, I guess. From outside the curtain, you would think there was some freaky stuff going on. He was moaning like an actress in an adult film. I was extremely uncomfortable, but he was just showing his appreciation. He came back week after week, and it just became normal. But clients would make sure to tell the supervisor that they thought something was going on."
"My housemate is a remedial sports-massage therapist, and I have a certificate in lymphatic and neurovascular massage, which I've found extremely helpful as a nurse. Our household is full of stories.
People (men and women) used to ask her for happy endings and sometimes follow her to the train station (she had to call the police once). Someone brought their cat into her spa for a 'Mother-daughter massage.' There was a time where my housemate had a client with a colostomy bag who neglected to tell her, and then was too embarrassed to say anything and just lied down on their stomach and the bag burst. After asking the client why they had a colostomy bag they said, 'Oh, because I had such a bad case of c.diff that my colon ulcerated. I still get flare up of it.'
My horror story involves a patient who asked me to help with her dry skin on her legs. When I asked what causes it, she said, 'I think just because I've been on bedrest.' And it's true -- it's not uncommon for the skin on the lower legs and feet to dry and crack when you aren't moving. So I grab some lotion and get to work on both moisturizing and getting the blood flowing.
After I'm done, she tells me that it feels much better and she's so thankful because normally people don't massage her legs on account of the shingles. I ask her why she didn't tell anyone she'd had a history of shingles and she said, 'Oh, well I was in here because of the stroke, not my shingles.' Herpes Zoster contributes to stroke risk.
Needless to say, that went on her file, and I was tempted to stick my whole hand in the autoclave. Thankfully, she had no sores, just scaly skin, which may or may not have been the start of the flare, even the dermatologist wasn't 100% sure when sighting it. You can ask people a thousand times if they have any medical history or skin conditions and they often won't say out of embarrassment or believing they know better, and it's not relevant. You'd be surprised what's relevant."
"I've worked for four years at a spa and seen some stuff. I'm a 23-year-old male massage therapist, and one day there was this big momma type of woman who came for a Hamam (it's given in the sauna area and involves a lot of water, it's really cool). So this woman had loads of rough patches on her skin. I think she had psoriasis or something like that. It wasn't contagious. I just had to be careful with scrubbing.
Most of the water slides of off the body, but some will stay in the depressions of the body, like the lower back and between the butt cheeks. Between the butt cheeks, she had some kind of white mold. Like the white hairs you see on old sandwiches. When the water filled the gap between the butt cheeks the mold-hairs swayed like seaweed... It was horrifying!"
"I had a lady who would frequent our student clinic, and she would request me. She was a nice lady, but holy freaking crap, did she have emotional baggage. I think I saw her maybe five different times and every single time she would flip from prone to supine, she would immediately have a tearful emotional response. And then she would pour her heart out to me about what was wrong in her life. I politely listened and didn't say much beyond the occasional one-word affirmation.
She never tipped me cash, but she would give me astrological advice."
"I am a physiotherapy student. In massage class, we learned how to massage the gluteus in combination with the normal back therapy. My classmate wasn't fully cleaned in his crack and so there were little parts of poop you could clearly see, even though my teacher told us about this the week before. I tried not to think about it and just started when suddenly small parts of the poop accidentally flicked onto his back.
At this point, my teacher arrived and was watching over me. I didn't want to blame him and continued. It seemed like he hasn't seen the parts on his back. When he went over to the next student, I was looking at my hands and the stuff had mixed up with the massage cream and covered all of his back with small parts, you could barely see but clearly feel while massaging. I never massaged him again after that happened."
"I've been a Licensed Massage Therapist for four years now, and two weeks ago for the first time ever, I had an older man think it was ok to try to kiss me. I had to push him off of me. I did not stop to think about his welfare, or him potentially suing my small practice. I only thought about my boundaries and my safety. After reestablishing my boundaries, I showed him the door. Goodbye, creepy old man."
"Male massage therapist here. For a time, I worked near a beach city that had a lot of women come in during spring break. I would say over half of the women would ask, 'Is he cute?' I would meet them before the massage and tell them to undress to their comfort level and get under the blanket face down.
I can't tell you how many times I've knocked on the door with them telling me to 'Come in,' and they're completely nude just standing there."
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