I have been getting my hair cut for the past two years or so at a small barber shop in the Medical Arts Building on Nicolet Mall in downtown Minneapolis. It's a classy old building - it's kind of an ornate building. It used to be full of medical specialists, but now it's mostly occupied by vendors selling "product" to Target Corp.
The building still has that classy "downtown commerce" vibe, though, and there is an old school barber shop on the first floor. My barber, "Al" is great, and the barber shop is pure Norman Rockwell. There's a Playboy magazine from 1997 or so and some Sport's Illustrated's in the magazine rack, plenty of brass, and warm shaving cream. Each visit promises a few off-color jokes and bitching about the Twins or the Vikings, depending on the time of year, and a good haircut. Ear hair is trimmed without comment.
As I got the mane trimmed today, Al was running me through current events. He told me that he hurt his knee since the last time I was in - he was bending down to pick something up and as he stood back up, his knee gave out.
He went to the doctor when it didn't get better on its own and he found out that he torn his miniscus (sp?) and has bad cartilage - he basically needs knee replacements at this point.
I asked what was involved with that. Al told me that recovery from this would probably take six to eight months - he'd have to retire in order to get this surgery since he can't leave his customers for that long and expect them to come back. It would be a shorter recover for people with an office job, but if you are on your feet all day, the recovery is longer.
Al is planning to retire in two years, and the doctor thinks he can keep Al upright until then, so for now I don't need to find a new barber.
When I think of career-ending injuries, I tend to think of football players getting knees blown out, pitchers with rotator cuff injuries, and roofers with bad backs. Still, the fact of the matter is that this kind of thing can happen to anybody at any time.
I am fortunate that I can't think of a career-ending injury for myself - I have a desk job, work in a handicapped accessible building, and with adaptive devices, I could probably overcome just about anything and still be pretty effective at my job, I think.
Still, I bet Al never thought his knees would take him out of the haircutting business.