Tuesday, January 20, 2009
Jorge of the Jungle
As I mentioned six months ago, my neighborhood has a nightwatchman (Petit, 2008). He was not hired to protect Casa de Gringos. He was hired to protect our neighbors, who are either the Montagues or Capulets of Zamora. The nightwatchman's shift starts at sundown and concludes at sunrise the next morning. He keeps his possessions in a small cardboard box that he lodges in the branches of a tree and every so often, he fetches the box down with a large stick that he keeps for that purpose. His possessions include a blue denim jacket, a half-full bottle of tequila, and the aforementioned stick that he uses to fetch his possessions down from the tree. He occupies his night hours pacing back and forth between stacks of milkcrates that he has stationed at intervals along the sidewalk, taking long sits on those stacks of milkcrates, drinking from the half-full bottle of tequila until it is half-empty, and whistling the same descending glissando once every fifteen minutes until the sun comes up. Every so often when I go out at night, I find him asleep, seated amongst the roots of a tree, or sleeping upright, half-tangled in the tree's lower branches. Because of his affinity for trees, and because 73.6% of the males I have met in this town are named Jorge, I have taken to calling him Jorge of the Jungle. During the afternoon, he works as a security guard at Plaza las Palomas (Plaza of the Pigeons), so I suspect he might work 24 hours a day. He is the only security guard I have seen who has not been entrusted with a weapon of some sort. Considering that all other Mexican security guards wield a billy club and even petty mall cops are equipped with pistols, this must be something of a slight to his manhood. I pass by Jorge at least five times a day and he has been watching my neighborhood for as long as I have been here. During those six months, the only things he has ever said to me are as follows: "Hello!" "Aren't you cold?" and "Are you going jogging?" Either he is completely dense or he thinks that I am completely dense. At night, through my bedroom window, I can see him sitting on his milkcrates in the driveway across the street, and he can probably see me. Last night around 12 AM, I was sitting out on the balcony and he shouted up at me, asking if I was cold. I had to shoosh him long-distance. He has only missed one night shift as far as I'm aware. His replacement was a teenager in a plaid hunter's cap. I tossed and turned all night in the absence of Jorge's whistled glissando. But Jorge returned the next night, said hello, asked me if I wasn't cold. He once scared the bejeezus out of me by suddenly manifesting himself at the foot of a tree while I was walking home with the groceries. Hello, he said, and my bowels nearly dropped out, a box of granola bars fell to the sidewalk. Aren't you cold? he asked.