In May I went travelling to a national park called Zhangjiejie with my mum and her friend, Anne. We spent the whole day wandering around with enormous backpacks on, marvelling at the scenery and just generally enjoying ourselves. By the end of the day we were all walked out, so when we saw a place to go and get a foot massage we thought it’d be the perfect end to a great day.
I should have known something was up when they told me the price was 20 yuan (£2) for 40 minutes, but alas…
We plonked ourselves down in the seats and were each assigned a person (Masseur is pushing it a bit!) to massage our feet.
From the get go my massagey person (MP) dug her thumb into the arch of my foot hard enough for me to yelp. Looking across at my mum and Anne I could see they were receiving equally uncomfortable massages, so I told them all to go easy on us. It got slightly better, but we were all still clenching our teeth throughout the entire ‘sole’ section.
Before long my MP had made it to the calves section of the massage.
“Would you like to try some of this traditional oil?” she asked, “it’s great for alleviating muscle tension. It will cost an extra 20 yuan, but I’ll do one leg for free to show you how good it is.”
“Alright, I’ll give it a try.” I said. She slapped some of the herbal oil on my leg and started massaging it. As soon as she put on the oil, she deliberately started massaging much softer than she had been doing before, and for the first time since the massage began I stopped clenching my teeth. I still wasn’t a big enough fan of it to go for the other leg though, so when she asked if I want to pay the extra I told her that I’d be fine without.
As soon as I said that, she moved onto the other leg. She started squeezing it as hard as she could and punching it like it called her firstborn son a bastard.
“What are you doing?!” I asked, alarmed.
“What? I’m massaging this leg exactly the same as I massaged the other one. It’s just that I’m not using the oil.” She said.
“Well, can you go a bit easier please?” I asked, seeing straight through the bullshit.
“This is already very soft, you need the oil.” She urged.
This whole debate went on for another few minutes until eventually I was so worked up that I just said to her “Look, if you bring up this sodding oil one more time we’re going to get up and leave!” Finally she gave it a rest, and after another incredibly un-relaxing 10 minutes the three of us left with our legs and feet in more pain than when we went in. You know a massage is bloody awful when you feel ripped off and you only paid £2…
This isn’t the first time somebody has tried this kind of thing on me either! One time a few years back somebody approached me and asked if they could clean my shoes. After convincing me it was free, I was game.
Quelle surprise, one pristine white trainer later “pay me a further 45 yuan and I’ll do the other one for you.”
You chose the wrong man, my friend. I’ll walk to the end of the earth with one clean shoe and one dirty shoe for no reason other than to spite you.
So, the words barely out of his mouth I upped and left, leaving the bewildered fiend to find somebody else who would give in to his bootie blackmail.