I don't have much hair, but what I do have can be incredibly unruly. It is our tradition that before heading out on a trip we both get hair cuts. After work yesterday we headed over to make an appointment for Saturday morning with 'our' barber to get shorn. I know he's other people's barber too but I acknowledge that only grudgingly. So when we arrived at the salon to find that the roof had collapsed and a sign announced, redundantly that there had been a 'problem' and the shop was closed indefinitely I was taken aback. The sign indicated that there was another salon on the second floor and perhaps they could take care of customers.
We headed upstairs to see if 'our' barber was working there now. I found it odd that I was feeling a bit upset. As we made our way to the other salon I looked at the reason why I was bothered. The first thing that came to mind was that mine is not a difficult head of hair to cut. It's more like mowing that styling. He takes the clippers, sets them at the shortest level and then runs it back and forth over my head until everything is done. Then he clips my eyebrows and ears and, voila, we're done.
I've get the kind of cut that isn't, um, complex.
It's not about that.
I think what was bothering me is that 'my' barber is tremendously gifted at how he does what he does. I've noticed that he has a really devoted clientele and, while there is no question he's gifted at what he does, he's particularly gifted at his skills of making everyone feel comfortable and welcome. The first time I showed up in my wheelchair he didn't blink an eye. He had the salon chair out of it's place, so I could pull in, with no muss and no fuss. You'd think he'd done it a thousand times before. Good heavens when I go to a restaurant they fumble all over themselves trying to figure out what to do with the chair! This guy made it not a big deal which IS a big deal.
From that moment forward he created a place that I didn't feel even slightly that I was in the way or that there I was any bother. Moreover, he always makes sure, when we're done and he's using the blow dryer to blow away any hair, to make sure that the base of the wheelchair and the tires, aren't covered in hair. I didn't ask him to do that, but he just does.
So, in my head I was worried about how long it would take to find someone who would give Joe a good haircut, a harder task than you might imagine, and who would treat me as a welcome customer. We were both pleased to find him working upstairs and we booked our appointment. Great!
What I then thought about was how this was kind of like what the people I work with must feel when there is a sudden and often unexplained loss of a favoured staff. A comfortable routine with someone who knows and respects your needs is completely disrupted. There is no predicting how the next person will be and there's no way around the fact that you need the support so you just have to deal with what you have to deal with. The sense of vulnerability and anxiety must be tremendous - hell that's what I felt at the loss of 'my' barber!!!
I've much to think about when I go back to work on Monday.