Looking back, I find it funny how naive and optimistic I was. Blame it on living a more or less sheltered and favored life but I truly believed that most people, if shown kindness would also show kindness in return. That the difference between a successful and unsuccessful person was just really a matter of getting the right break. That a nurturing environment would make people conform to a culture of giving and giving back. Was I in for a wake up call.
Ego and Objectification
In their line of work, masseurs are often objectified. That is the reality. Along with the intimate nature of their work and the societal taboos surrounding it, most have no pride in the work they do. That the massage itself is unimportant. That they can provide mediocre service and it would not matter in the end. All that is important is how they look to the client and how they measure up to the rest of the staff.
Such an environment inevitably hits a man where it hurts. His ego. Day in and day out, their egos are laid bare for everyone to see especially among their peers. This inevitably leads to a 'caste' system among them, the popular ones being the top dog and vice-versa. Their male potency regularly questioned. This just feeds more to the cycle and that cycle is really hard to break. Sexuality too is often questioned and reasserted.
The number one reason why masseurs are in this line of work is because they are hard up. This is by no means a surprise. Asked what their main concern in life is, it would be about making ends meet. This problem makes them short sighted, indeed how does one plan for the future when you don't have food on the table, or your electricity has been cut. For most masseurs, it's about maximizing your earnings right now. There are two components in that sentence. First the 'maximizing your earnings' part in the easiest way possible. Second, the 'right now' part which means they can stand to be a little more concerned about making sure a client becomes a regular of his, rather than one-time-big-time kind of deal. Insert sob stories here.
*The masseurs are often surprised that I am often proven correct when I tell them that they have a better chance of a higher tip if they don't tell their sob stories or stop themselves from suggesting a huge tip and just give a great massage.
Work Ethics (or the lack thereof)
To earn a living, most people have to work at least 8 hours a day. The masseurs? Yes, they do have to stay at the workplace for 8 hours but the actual work? Two hours tops. Most of the time is spent lounging, watching TV or chatting with their co-workers in an airconditioned room. Easy. In fact, most of them tell me they prefer to go to work rather than stay at home where its hot, humid, noisy and no cable TV. Compare that to what they will earn working as an unskilled and uneducated blue collar worker. The choice is really a no-brainer if you have the *ahem* loins for it.
As you can imagine, a masseur can handle a very wide range of clients, but most would at least have a fair amount of disposable income. Varying degrees yes, but still have some disposable income. Here they are, trying to make ends meet and most of the clients they handle seem to be carefree. Of course this isn't true as they don't see the hard work that their clients put in to reach their success, but it does spoil their view of life doesn't it? That money does grow on trees for some people and that life should be easy. That hard work is overrated.
The job as a masseur actually spoils most of the guys for any other work. I have had several masseurs who tried to be a service crew at a fast food joint or a salesman at a department store only for them to come back after a month. There is even one in particular who was able to put himself through college, finish a management degree, get a job at a multi-national company and still considered coming back to work for me.
Getting unstuck (Changing Mindsets)
Most of these guys seem to be, for a lack of a better word, 'stuck'. Stuck in the daily problems of their lives. Stuck in the same cycles. Stuck in the same lifestyle. Just stuck. They seem to be impatient and wanting to accomplish a lot of things but don't have the patience to just work at it. They seem fearless yet at the same time they are afraid to shake things up. Most of them just really need to get unstuck.
Of course this is a sweeping generalization and perhaps a shallow assessment of how most masseurs are. There are always exceptions to the rule, like the one that went on to finish college or the one that put up a small enterprise or the one that drives a cab around the city. These are the exceptions. Truly when a particular masseur becomes the exception it warms my heart. I jokingly tell my friends whenever they would look for a particular masseur who has moved on to other things and be the exception, that they have "graduated the Hilom finishing school". Really not a big stretch as part of the responsibility of an establishment is to teach the masseurs to better present themselves and handle clients. To successfully do those things they do have to overcome most, if not all, the factors that I stated above.