The Story of Jorge

PHOTOGRAPHER BY ARMED SHUTTER 

PHOTOGRAPHER BY ARMED SHUTTER 

 

He could not tell I was annoyed or maybe he could from the twenty-eight minute wait in the lobby. The only working bank employee avoided direct eye contact with any of the bank's patrons waiting in the small sitting area. I struck up a conversation with a friend I noticed sitting in a chair not far from where I was. He used to live in the same high-rise as my husband and I. We talked about his travel to London and his plans to visit Japan. We also spoke about business and community politics, mainly broken promises from our city leaders. He was happier than usual. He spent about 90% of his time in London where "business dealings are better than in the states because a handshake is a handshake."

He was up next so our conversation ended abruptly when the bank employee beckoned for whoever was next. The employee, whose name I learned was Jorge, seemed to be having an okay day. He was tall and noticeably uncomfortable about something. He was a big man but appeared as though he could own a small cat and a potted plant. My friend finished his transaction in a short time, and I was up next. Sitting in front of him, I could see that Jorge had a few things going on in his life after he left the bank. He appeared anxious and uncomfortable in his suit.  

I gave him my ID and after he made a few jokes about my photo I gave a look that meant "let's speed things up, buddy." He took the hint, and as he was typing my information into his computer, I noticed a slight head nod and then a shake, another one, and another one. He was falling asleep right in front of me. The head nod meant his eyes were drooping and the shake was to keep from falling into his computer. He had the process down. I felt justified in telling him that he probably needed some coffee and more sleep. The unexpected part came when he said it was a medical condition.

"The man has narcolepsy," I thought to myself.

Jorge then proceeded, as if I were family,  to tell me about his undiagnosed diabetes and sleep apnea, all things I was familiar with because I have a family history of diabetes and my brother has sleep apnea. Then, Jorge shared the story of a mini heart attack he had a few months earlier while drinking a Monster energy drink, he did not stay up late, and had a habit of bingeing on hamburgers and fried food. He was going to get his doctor results back in a few weeks to see if he indeed had diabetes and if he needed a sleep device to get some rest.

I could empathize with him. His struggle to live unrestricted and at the same time enjoy all that life has to offer had caught up with him. 

I explained that I lost two aunts and my grandmother to diabetes and my mother has the disease. I cautioned him against the medicine most doctors would prescribe and kindly told him to lose some weight, completely cut the Monsters, and take back control of his life. 

Jorge nodded in agreement.

As I walked out of the bank, Jorge told me to take care of myself.

I smiled and said, "no, you, take care of yourself" with a nudge to his left shoulder. 

"I will try." 

This is a true story. Names have been changed to protect the identity of the individual the story is about.