Poverty of Spirit


As I walk to work, I pass this massage parlour. I am a regular consumer of massages, because I have a bad back.

One fine Sunday as I was walking to work, the woman who owns this place hailed me. Her name was Brenda. I went over and she tried to sell me a massage. Initially I resisted because I was off to France and I was tying up some loose ends. But I spoke with her at length. She asked my my opinion on advertising, and many many specifics on how to increase her business. She asked me for new business ideas.

I am never at loss for ideas. I told her that I would think about it and give her the benefit of an outsider view on increasing her business.

Last week, I needed a massage badly. I decided to try the woman out. I went to her place of business and she wasn't there. The security guard phoned her and told her that she had a client. I waited for half an hour for her to show up. Apparently her car was broken. The first thing that she did, was ask me for ten bucks for gas for whoever drove her.

I went into the massage place, and the first thing that I saw was ten year old fake flowers. I went on the massage table, and she was using paper towels as hygienic paper. As she started I asked her the rate and she said that an hour massage was $85 dollars. This is more than my regular massage, but if she relieved the chronic pain in my back, it would be worth it.

She told me that because of the shape of my back, she would work a little longer. I am used to this. My regular massage therapist often goes for an hour and fifteen minutes and charges me just for the hour. I tip her and I am a regular client. Regular clientele is a problem for massage therapists, because in this economy many people do not get a massage regularly.

As I was being massaged, I explained my business ideas and how to generate new business. She took all of this information in. During the massage, she tried to get me to sign a contract for weekly visits. When that failed, she tried monthly visits. At the end of my massage, which went an hour and a half, I got off the table. I honestly expected it for free, because of quid pro quo. However I did not mind paying. She asked me for $170. I immediately knew what was going on. She saw me as a ticket to get the money to fix her car in one shot.

I told her that she "swing me". It is Bahamian for being cheated. When the penny dropped for her and she realised that she was not getting the $170, she started shrieking at me. She told me that there wasn't a price on good health. She told me that she used special avocado oil on me. She said that there was an ATM around the corner. She begged and pleaded with me. She said "Come on, you can afford it!". She had already mentally collected the money and spent it already. I told her that I was disgusted that she saw me as merely a white person who had a wallet. She yelled that it had nothing to do with race. Then she switched gears and said that her hands hurt from massaging me.

I left her the fee plus the money that she asked for gas and walked out. It left a bad taste in my mouth. I would have consulted for free to help her with her business. I would have given her my business. I came up with the idea of a foot spa that Bahamians could afford. I came up with several options along with viral advertising and how to advertise for free.

Instead, all that she saw, was money to fix her car, and she would swindle it out me. She tried to brazen her way to collecting an outrageous sum.

This was poverty of spirit at its extreme. She sacrificed a lot by trying to rip me off. She really thought that she could get away with it.

I honestly thought that there would be a happy medium in this country between blacks and white. The chasm is a lot wider and deeper than I ever thought. And that chasm is the reason for developmental resistance as a nation. I wonder if this country will ever climb out of the third world status.

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