I was in the hallway washing my hands for the umpteenth time, preparing for my next client, when one of our therapists exited a treatment room. She had just finished a massage and I could tell from her body language that something was wrong. Usually cheerful, she appeared drained.
I asked her what was going on. She said nothing was wrong, which is what people say when something is wrong. Later in the day, I broached the topic again. This time, she admitted to me that her client was a very difficult woman.
“How so?” I asked.
“She barely said a word to me,” she said. “Barely made eye contact.”
Ah, the life of service providers. I can safely say that 99% of our clients are happy to be at Flic Spa. But once in a while the unhappy 1% enters our doors. Some people are impossible to please.
But is that really so? I looked into the client, a long time Flic Spa aficionado. I found out that she was going through a very rough patch. Maybe she was unable to rise above her problems, and didn’t have the energy or the will to put on a happy face.
Or maybe the therapist took it a bit too personally? I advised her to step back from the situation. When the session began, the therapist was happy, but the client was sad. When the session ended, the client was still sad, and now, in a clear illustration of energy exchange, so was the therapist. “You know,” I told the therapist. “Maybe you can find a way to transfer your good energy to her, rather than the other way around.”
I don’t know about you, but I was taught as a child to smile when I felt sad. Smiling will make you feel better! Misery is for family members! Oddly enough, scientific studies actually prove this: fake smiling can actually make you feel better, which leads to genuine smiling. But doesn’t this feel patently phony? Why put an effort on a social face, rather than on an intimate one?
Preparing for my next client, I began to wash my hands yet again. This ritual of multiple ablutions makes my mind dissociate briefly, filing with random thoughts. As I watched the water wash away the foam from my fingers, I thought, wouldn’t it be great if we found a way to simply wash away the foam of sadness in our hearts, swirling into some cosmic drain, never to return? Smiling while you are sad is like putting gloves on your hands, covering what’s underneath. What, if anything, could truly wash away our bad feelings?
A few months later, the sad woman came back to Flic Spa. She had booked another massage and requested the very same therapist. Clearly, the therapist had done a great job, and the client had liked her. This time around, though, the client seemed lighter, more engaging. My therapist gave me a quick smile before she entered the room to do what I knew would be another exemplary massage. As she closed the door to the client’s suite, I exhaled a sigh of relief. I wondered how the client had washed away her foam of sadness, and hoped the energy about to exchange in that room would now be genuinely better.