The Barber Of Civility

Over the last several months, a number of important people in my life have resigned their positions as Neil Stein facilitators.  I’ll explain:

About six months ago when I wanted to make an appointment for my annual checkup, I called my doctor’s office, only to find out that my primary care physician, my internist, my Doctor for god’s sake, had hung up his stethoscope.  Or had tossed his prescription pad.  Or done whatever the metaphor is that doctor’s use for retiring.  Which was particularly discouraging because Steve and I were almost getting comfortable not calling each other by our first names. To date, he has not been replaced which leaves me walking a tightrope of trying to stay healthy while still leaving my house from time to time. So if we happen to come across one another, please don’t get too close.

I’ve been seeing Steve for about fifteen years and the thought of breaking in a new primary health professional is daunting. Change (other than coins) is apparently, not something I embrace so readily. The idea of finding another doctor, and one who takes my insurance, is really, really off-putting. It’s almost like I’m enrolled in Obamacare for chrissake!

And then, my dear friend Harvey, who has been my dermatologist for forty years, just informed me a month or so ago that he was calling it quits.  We had our final appointment just last week.  At least Harvey forewarned me and has made some suggestions for a replacement.  I explained to him that I didn’t want to see anyone over 35 years old because I’m not interested in going though this retirement thing again with my next doctor.  When I said no one over 35, Harvey looked at me strangely.  I guess he doesn’t know that I plan to live a long time.

Instead of a gold watch?

Instead of a gold watch?

But by far, the most unsettling defection has been the betrayal by my barber, Vito.  Just last week I went for a haircut to my local barbershop where I’ve been going for the past twenty years.  As sometimes happens, Vito wasn’t there.  I assumed I had come on his day off.  When I asked one his co-workers if Vito would be in the next day, I was told, “No, Vito retired; sold his house and bought something in Sarasota“.  I had just seen Vito a few weeks back and he hadn’t mentioned anything to me.  Not that we had that kind of relationship . . . or any kind of relationship really.  Still it came as a big surprise to me to learn that my last haircut was our last haircut.

It’s not that Vito was a great barber.  Adequate is how I would describe his work. But the best thing about him was that he knew that after the initial pleasantries, when I closed my eyes, I didn’t want any chit-chat.  He respected that.  Now he’s retired; hung up his scissors, unplugged his hair dryer, thrown out his hand mirror and is sunning himself in Florida.  JesusChristAlmighty! (a nod to the holiday season) . . .  I’m ret…retir…retired (kind of) and I continue to show up both at Garfield Realty and at his barber shop. People can be so self-centered!  (Him, not me.)

In any event, I have all these positions that now need to be filled.  In a perfect world–mine isn’t–I’d find a new primary care doctor who happens to have a subspecialty in dermatology.  Who also cuts hair as a sideline. Oh yes, and who is in their mid-thirties.  All that should be easy enough.  But the real hurdle, as I see it, will be finding someone who will accept my insurance. I’d even be willing to pay for the haircuts out of pocket.

A few notes:

This is it for 2014.  No need to check your email for the next few days.  As usual, this year’s output will be published and handsomely bound.  Copies will be available at my bookcase.  How much I’ll pay you to take them off my hands will be determined at some future time once the price of oil stabilizes.

A Healthy And Happy Upcoming Year To All.


4 Responses to “The Barber Of Civility”

  1. Rich Says:

    As someone who is on the provider side of this abyss (and I’m way older than you) who is slowwwwly easing himself out of the picture, I can say it isn’t easy on my end either. But, as it turns out, in this regard, everyone is indeed replacable

  2. iron(ic)man triathlon Says:

    Rich… a couple of things but first let me thank you for mentioning that you’re older than I am. But to your point, evidently it wasn’t so hard for Vito to “ease himself out of the picture”…at least the picture I have in my wallet of him standing over me with a comb and scissors.

    I assume when you say, “everyone is replaceable” . . . that’s not something you’ve mentioned to Judy.

  3. Ray Says:

    Big Neil,

    No pithy comments today, just wanted to say that I have enjoyed your blogs all year but this last one was one of the best! Put me down for one of those handsomely bound copies. See you in 2015.

    • iron(ic)man triathlon Says:

      Ray.. I thought your comment was rather pithy. I’ve entered your order. Here’s the good news…because you’re the first subscriber I’ll be sending you a check shortly. Oil prices be damned!

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