I met a guy named Jaime this week. The second we sat down he began to tell me his life story. I didn’t ask, but for some reason he felt like telling it.
I knew he had a story to tell. We all do. With him; however, he seemed to be ready to unload, like he was waiting for this moment to open up. Sometimes we are all just waiting for that moment.
Before today, I knew him as that guy that was working for a local agency that helps get people with drug habits get connected to resources. It’s tough work finding people who don’t recognize they need help and trying to shake them up until they break down and ask for it. That’s Jaime’s job.
He’s out on the streets, shaking things up. Visiting with people on their level. Just an ordinary guy talking to a neighbor and letting that neighbor know that he can come out of his life situation. There is a way out.
Jaime knows it because he lived it. I found that out within a minute of sitting down with him at a coffee shop. I ordered a simple café latte. He ordered some kind of oreo coffee with cookie chunks and whip cream. I knew then that we were different kind of people.
Like his coffee order, Jaime has a colorful past. You can read about it on his arms, chest, and his neck. They are filled with tattoos telling the story of his life. His breakups and breakdowns. His incarcerations. His fights. His helping others. His family. His heritage. His survival.
I drank my café latte. My simple café latte with coffee and foam. No added flavors. Jaime talked. He tried to stop a few times but he couldn’t. I didn’t want him to.
Listening to him, I felt like I could learn so much about someone that I grew up with but didn’t know. He’s only a year younger than me but he has wisdom about things in life that I will never understand. How life in drugs can be for someone with no one to lean on for help. How it can lead to family breakdowns, violence, and a record that works against you for the rest of your life. The system can be merciless.