The Blind Barber Of Kalamazoo

When customers first walk into Jim's Barber Shop in Kalamazoo, Mich, they awaken a sleeping legend.

Jim says he usually has no idea who they are - or even if they are.

"Is there somebody there," he said when he met CBS News correspondent Steve Hartman

It's the first sign that Jim's eyesight ain't what it used to be.

Here's the second: Jim tells a customer, "I can't even see your ears."

Fact is, 64-year-old barber Jim Buist is legally blind.

One customer said: "I don't know how he does it, he's amazing."

Jim's been a barber for 40 years, but a blind one for just the past couple. A combination of cataracts, diabetes and detached retinas have made his view of the world fuzzy.

It's amazing he hasn't shaved off a lobe - and even more amazing, the number of people who trust he won't.

Jim still has dozens of regular customers. In fact, part of the reason he's able to do this is because he's memorized most of these heads. He also goes by feel … and by gut.

"It's instinct," Jim says.

Still, it should come as no surprise that Jim doesn't get a whole lot of new customers.

"If you're sitting there and you watch me cut somebody's hair, that scares people out," he laughed.

He says it's hard to find people with that kind of courage - and/or stupidity.

But Hartman decided to sit down in his chair anyway. Only because hair grows back.

"You got a good head of hair, I like digging into this," Jim said.

"Seems like there's a lot of hair falling down," Hartman said.

Jim replied: "Don't worry about it."

I thought I'd let him take a stab at it - hopefully not literally.
  • Steve Hartman

    Steve Hartman has been a CBS News correspondent since 1998, having served as a part-time correspondent for the previous two years.

Comments

CBSN Live

pop-out
Live Video

Watch CBSN Live

Watch CBS News anytime, anywhere with the new 24/7 digital news network. Stream CBSN live or on demand for FREE on your TV, computer, tablet, or smartphone.