He’s worked in the Newman Caf for as long as I can remember. Actually, he’s worked there for like 40 years or something, which is much longer than I can remember.
Imagine this: Jimmy is skin and bones. Seriously. He sits behind this little counter and takes trays all morning and afternoon and he is so thin and fragile looking that I’m afraid he’s going to break if I don’t give him my tray gently enough. If he moves away from the counter (which is rare) he must use a cart or wheeled garbage can to help him walk. Funny part is, he was a boxer in a past life. Never saw that one coming.
When Jimmy talks it reminds me of Chewbacca and Kermit the Frog put together. For the most part, you can’t understand him. You just smile and knod and tell him you’ll see him tomorrow.
Every morning I would enter to cafeteria and he would greet me with a gargled “hello” and point to my open seat across from Greg, as if to tell me that he’d been saving it. If someone was sitting there, or if Greg wasn’t there yet, he’d look really concerned and ask me what I was going to do. Most of the time, if I just reassured him that Greg was on his way.
Jimmy is a Ladies Man. I would catch him on his cell phone all the time. He’d try to hide behind the counter to make it look less obvious, but I knew what was going on. He’s calling one of his girlies at 8am. He gets started early. Also, once, when he was wearing an Illini Basketball shirt and Greg complimented him on it, Jimmy said it was from a lady-friend. See– I’ve got proof. Ladies Man.
When my meal was over, I would always carefully bring my tray to him and every time, without fail he’d ask, “Time to go?” If you had just met him, you’d have no idea what he’d just said, but I’ve begun to crack his code. And every time I’d respond with, “Yep, time for work. See you at lunch!” Every once and a while he’d ask me a question at this point, which I wouldn’t always know the answer to—mostly because I didn’t always know what he was saying. But he is such a great guy. So friendly, so kind, so helpful.
My favorite Jimmy story is when one morning he begins telling Greg that needs to have surgery soon. When Greg asks why, Jimmy tells him that he was at the doctor yesterday and it turns out his knee has been broken for the past 8 years. Who knew?!?! Guess its about time to get it fixed. When the date of his surgery comes and he’s at work like usual, we ask him what the deal is. Turns out he had the wrong month. Gotta wait another 30 days. Whoops.
Awwwww Jimmy. We love you. Sure going to miss you when you retire.