by Pallas Hutchison
The barter system has been around for a long time and can be a useful way to build networks within a community. However, if terms are not clearly defined beforehand, it can sour long-standing relationships. This is something I learned the hard way. I have been on both sides of a bad bartering agreement. I will share some of my experiences as well as a few things to consider before offering to barter with someone.
Know the parties involved. How many people are involved in the bartering agreement? Are you bartering with a business or with an individual? Overall, it's easier to barter with an individual. When bartering on behalf of my business, there are more variables to consider and less flexibility in the terms I can offer. I had a friend provide services to my business while I was providing massage services to them. Additionally, they had received services from my then-boyfriend's business as well. The friend's assumption of a barter between the three businesses made settling the bills awkward and unpleasant for everyone involved. The friendship took a long time to repair. To avoid this problem in the future, my business no longer accepts barter as a form of payment.
Bartering as an individuals is simpler and can be a lot of fun. One simply decides whether or not they want what you are offering in exchange for the service/product you would like to receive. As a massage therapist, I have a highly desired skill that not everyone is willing (or able) to pay for with money. However, there are plenty of things people have offered me in lieu of financial payment. Some of the ones I have accepted include fresh lobsters and shellfish from a fisherman, lawn mowing, babysitting, and horseback riding lessons. These massage services are usually provided outside of my business hours and using my massage table at home instead of my business's.
Know the terms of the agreement. Make sure the terms are discussed and agreed upon before anything services are provided or products change hands. Are you bartering cash value for cash value or time for time? Different services have different prices even though the time elapsed remains the same. For example, the cost of a yoga class is less per person because a yoga teacher provides a service to multiple people at once; a massage therapist provides a service to one person at a time, which increases the cost per person per hour.
I used to barter services with my hairdresser but because we didn't clearly define the terms, the service I received varied each time while the service I provided remained constant. Because of this inconsistency, sometimes I felt like I received a fair trade and other times I felt that I gave more than I got or visa versa. I'm sure it evened out in the end. While I still use the same hairdresser, we're both happier when we pay each other outright for services received.
Martial arts has become difficult for me to fit into my current budget. My sensei has offered to barter my classes in exchange for massages for his wife. The cost of martial arts classes per month is $65, which is the equivalent of the massage program offered by my business. However, she would receive one 60-min massage per month and I would be receiving two 60-minute classes per week. The time does not equal out although the money does. Is this worth risking the relationships I have with my sensei and his wife? Transparency in the agreement will reduce the risk of fall out.
Despite the complications involved, bartering can be a lot of fun. It can be a great way to pack in experiences without sinking the budget. Figure out what you have to offer and what you'd like to try. Discuss terms openly and enjoy!
by Pallas Hutchison
My oldest daughter failed her hearing tests at school for three years (Kindergarten through second grade) before we got referred to a specialist. On the assumption that she was partially deaf, we had begun to work some simple sign language into our lives just in case it got worse over the years. The specialist assured us this was not the case.
My daughter is not deaf, she has an over-abundance of cerumen or earwax that blocked the ear canal and impaired her hearing. She was prescribed drops to put in her ears at night that would soften the wax. We came back a week later to have her ears flushed out. Afterwards, she took another hearing test and scored perfectly. Unfortunately, this is an ongoing problem and she will need to have her ears flushed 2-4 times each year.
Having the ears flushed out is something I have experienced only once in my life. Only once because I will not willingly undergo the process again. Even having used the drops as directed, ear flushing is extremely painful and messy. Hot water is sprayed directly into the ear canal using something similar to a dentistry tool. A cup is held under the ear to catch the water and wax as it splashes out. It feels like severe constipation in the ear canal. There is heat and pressure and pain. The wax blobs don't want to come out.
Forcing a child to go through this procedure multiple times is difficult. Despite her knowing the benefit, she fought against it as fiercely as she fights getting against blood drawn or vaccination shots. Another option had to be available. This is when I was introduced to ear candling.
Ear candling, for my daughter, provides quick and painless results. She can hear her teachers at school, her friends on the bus, and the family around the dinner table. After several years of doing this at home for my family, I began to look into the science behind it I hopes that I could offer other people the same relief that my daughter found. This could easily be added to the service menu of my massage practice. To my surprise, the science proving the efficacy of ear candling doesn't exist.
Most of the websites I've looked at that advocate ear candling fall into two categories: commercial or anecdotal. The commercial sites want to sell their products (ear candles and accessories) to make a profit. The anecdotal websites are similar to this blog; individual people sharing their experiences with minimal science behind it. The science websites tell a very different tale.
Not everyone advocates ear candling. In fact, ear candling is condemned as dangerous and ineffective by the Mayo Clinic, the US National Library of Medicine and National Institutes of Health, the American Academy of Audiology... These are objective and academic resources that offer unbiased information and research studies. WebMD and other anecdotal sites agree that ear candling is an ineffective remedy for earwax removal. The FDA is also vocal in its opposition of this practice.
My research reminded me of the important role earwax plays in protecting the ear. Firstly, it provides waterproofing. Secondly, the acidity level creates an environment that deters bacterial growth. (WebMD) My assumption of how ear candling actually worked proved false. Multiple studies have proven that there is no vacuum and there is not enough reverse pressure to suck out sticky earwax.
Further exploration into the legalities and liabilities of offering this revealed that ear candling is specifically prohibited for massage and cosmetology establishments. I will continue to perform ear candling for my family because it works for us. However, I will not be offering this as a service through Oasis Massage.
Do you have an experience with ear candling? Which side of the argument do you support? Share your thoughts below!
by Pallas Hutchison