Most people know I’m a massage, body, and energy therapist. I have my own small practice where I see my regulars and referrals. It’s great, I get to do anything that my client wants and/or needs as long as it’s within my scope of practice.
I also contract out to several area spas and resorts, either bringing my own table or using what they have at their facility. I enjoy doing this, partly because it gets me out of my office and I get to network with other MTs. It’s usually a little easier on my body too, since most of these clients ‘just want to relax.’ There’s less thought and planning too – I just show up, do what I need to do, then leave.
One recent Friday I was working a four hour shift at one of these spas. My 2nd client was late enough that I thought he probably was a no show, and I walked outside for a short break. Coming back inside I noticed that he has arrived 20 minutes late. Hmm, I thought, I can still fit him in since I’ve got a scheduled break afterwards.
Walking out to the lobby I called out his name. A small, thin man in the long coat stood up. I looked at him and noticed that he had curly black hair and olive skin, and spoke with a Middle Eastern accent.
My first unconscious thought?
I wondered if he had a bomb in his coat.
As I walked him back to the massage room I looked around, remembering where the exits were.
My second thought?
It doesn’t matter where the exit is, I’m at ground zero and will be dead instantly. I even thought about going up to the front desk and saying that I didn’t feel comfortable working on him.
Yep, I thought these things in a blink of an eye, the woman who looks for the grace and beauty in every situation, the pacifist, one who used to teach courses on alternatives to violence in Cleveland’s inner city youth.
After talking with him for a moment about what kind of massage he wanted I decided to ask a couple questions. And I found out that, yes, he was from the Middle East. His family lives in Dubai, and he here studying Geography and GPS systems at the local university to learn more about petroleum.
So you can find new oil fields, I asked?
Yes, my family is in that business.
After the massage he met me outside the office door with his big coat and bowed slightly to me. “Thank you,” he said in his perfect English, “I feel so much better. I hope to see you again soon.”
How in the world could I have jumped to the conclusion that he was going to blow the building up?
A woman had open fired that day on the West Coast, killing 14 people. Every form of media was covering it, posting updates online with pictures of events. And the person who did this had been linked to ISIS, the Islamic State who has been using the media to publicized executions and bombings.
Both of my parents were prejudiced, my father more than my mother. After they were married my father built the family home in a very segregated community. For most of my school years I did not see any person who was any color than white. The closest to ‘people of color’ were the 2 Italian families in the neighborhood. My sophomore year one black family moved into the area. By then (the early 1970s) it was considered ‘cool’ to befriend with any one from that family. One of my best friends dated one of the sons for awhile, planning to marry him after high school. She instantly became more popular, and stayed that way even after they broke up.
My oldest sister took it even a step further. She married a black man soon after graduating from college, and has his child a few months after the ceremony. My father, an amateur photographer, took pictures of the service and reception. He pulled one of the pictures out and said, ‘look at the way she’s standing, there’s something very wrong going on here.’
The thing that was ‘wrong’ was his eldest married outside of her ‘group.’
That was over 40 years ago.
Now with all the media coverage of people with a certain skin color or certain accents being ‘problems’ my memory is bringing all this up again. It certainly sounds like my life in 1950s and 60s, them against us, we’re right they’re wrong, right = might.
Makes me a little sad. You know, maybe I really haven’t progressed that far from my childhood after all. Though I didn’t agree with my father then somehow his opinions had a impact on my life. Years later I’m still untangling that thread of prejudice and hatred.
Thank you, Sahid, for bringing this to my attention and helping me heal this wound.
Nancy Elizabeth Green
thinks that anything is possible. She loves to explore life with an open heart and a quantum mind. Come and enjoy the magic!