The event you’re about to read is just a sneak peek into what life can be like in Israel. It’s not always like this, but it sure does make my day better when it is! Being an immigrant in Israel is anything but easy! Everything is done differently over here and almost always occurs in a way you least expect.
I’ve learned that when this happens, you just have to shrug it off and laugh. That is precisely what I did during and after this particular event, which occurred at the end of 2017. It was a great way to end the year! Hehe!
The day started like any other. I woke up and soon began cooking up a storm in the kitchen, using all my mom’s pots and pans in the process. My goal was to prepare the food for the day as quickly as possible before getting a medical massage that afternoon.
As I cooked, I kept thinking that this was a perfect day to get a massage, as my shoulders and back were starting to get sore with all the standing up I was doing. While I was in America, I would get a massage once a week as a part of my therapy, but since I’d been back in Israel, I’d gone a month without a massage, and it was showing.
Once 3pm arrived, my mom and I got into the car and drove to Hadera. This was going to be my first massage through our health insurance, and I was interested to see what they would do differently from the massage therapists I’d had in the past. Let me give you a little hint — it was INCREDIBLY different!
Upon arriving at the doctor’s, my mom and I were already skeptical about what we would find. After attempting to talk to the receptionist, she told us to take a seat in the empty sitting room and wait. I looked at my mom in bewilderment, and we started to giggle (already the laughter had begun). The receptionist asked us, in Hebrew, why we were laughing, but we had no way to tell her in Hebrew, so we just giggled some more.
The door closest to us opened no more than five minutes later, and out came a short, extremely hairy, middle-aged man in a doctor’s coat. He came over to us and started talking to us in Hebrew, which we couldn’t understand.
After some monkey-like hand signals, we concluded that he would be the therapist. I turned my head to my mom with a look of shock in my eyes and asked her not to leave me.
Now, I’m pausing here to ask you to imagine what you would think this room we’re about to walk in will look like? Do you picture dimmed lights? Soft music playing in the background? A professional massage table in the middle of the room? Nice sheets and a blanket over the table?
A typical massage room, right? WRONG! This is NOT what the room looked like! In fact, it was the complete opposite!
In the room: the lights were in full beam (giving me a headache), a massive desk took up the space with a computer on it, and the ‘massage table’ was, in fact, an examination bed (it even had the paper towel going across it!).
You can probably imagine our surprise at this sight! From the minute I stepped into the room, the giggles had returned! I felt so sorry for the ‘therapist’ because he had no idea why I was laughing and didn’t speak English, so there was no way to explain it.
He then proceeded to tell me to lay on my back and put the sheet over myself before pulling the curtain across half of the room for privacy. As he sat at his desk, putting some soft ‘nature’ music on, I tried to analyze how I was supposed to position myself on this ‘massage table.’ I felt like I was about to be examined by a doctor, not have a therapeutic massage to ease my aches and pains.
Unfortunately, my giggles had not subsided by the time the massage commenced. As the therapist began placing his hands on the back of my neck, a laugh leaped out of my mouth before I could hold it in, and after one, there usually comes a second. Before I knew it, the giggles turned to laughter; they wouldn’t and couldn’t stop!
Every time I laughed, he would take his hands off my neck and look at me. At one point, my mom said, “Sorry, she’s really nervous.” Which only made me laugh more!
Of course, I wasn’t nervous. I’d had plenty of massages before, some done by men— the setting of this event and the way it was all happening made me lose control. I had been expecting to go to a place for a relaxing massage and somehow found myself in a hospital-looking room filled with bright, fluorescent lighting and a very hairy man.
To help continue with this ‘massage,’ I ended up biting my lip, almost drawing blood, and asking for the lights to be turned down. It was a little easier once the lights were turned down, but a giggle would fall out here and there.
Honestly, this was the strangest experience I have ever encountered, stranger than when I had a Turkish bath with a bunch of strangers (wearing swimsuits, of course). The therapist’s method of ‘massaging’ my neck was by putting his fingers on specific areas and keeping them there for a minute or so. He did this for about 10 minutes before asking me to turn onto my stomach.
Once on my stomach, I was able to hold the laughter in better, but the therapist didn’t make it easy! He began massaging my back by rolling his arms up and down as a way to warm up my muscles.
Have you ever used an exfoliating stone? Imagine that as the feeling I was experiencing as this man was rolling his arms up and down my back! If you think that’s bad, wait until you hear what happened next…
As time ticked away, he began finding trigger points on my back. When he first located one, he turned to my mom, finger still holding the trigger point, and proclaimed in a Jacques Clouseau (Steve Martin) voice, “Trigger!” HAHA
Happy that he found at least one of my many trigger points, I thought the real massage was about to start, but I was wrong. He touched each trigger point, held his finger down for a couple of seconds, and then moved on.
Next, he began to do what felt like jazz hands lightly down my back, which almost made me start laughing again. To end, he gave my shoulders a slight squeeze and my back a few light karate chops and then closed the curtain.
My mom came in to help me up. She asked, “Did you fall asleep?” My eyes probably said all she needed to hear but to give more of an explanation, I started to laugh and shook my head quietly.
We said goodbye to the therapist and left as soon as we could. I couldn’t contain my laughter anymore, and tears formed in my eyes again. Waiting for the elevator was excruciating; I honestly didn’t think I could hold it in any longer, but I survived.
The elevator doors opened, we entered, and as soon as the doors closed, we didn’t stop laughing until we got in the car. Actually, we laughed all the way home and then again when we retold this tale to my father, who sat there in shock.
He asked us, “Why didn’t you stop him and say how ridiculous this was?” To which we responded, “We were waiting to see what he was going to do next.”
I don’t think I’ve laughed this hard all year! Even as I’m writing out these events, I have tears in my eyes and have to pause to collect myself, so I can see the words on the screen.
A piece of advice to all the people living or moving to Israel; DO NOT go for a medical massage with your health insurance. Find a professional with a room that fits your expectations and doesn’t leave you thinking, “Well, at least my back got exfoliated.”