I moved to Atlanta in 1985 after accepting a job transfer with AT&T. I was 25, and it was a big move for me. Until then, I had stayed close to my nest in and around Kansas City. With that came a comfort zone of family, faith, friends, lifelong sports teams, a business network, and a familiar medical community.
Atlanta was the other side of the coin. Outside of work, I knew no one the day I moved there. I didn’t know the best watering holes, where to eat, live or attend church. Fortunately, AT&T was nurturing, and I connected with people there.
A group of guys working in sales (I worked mainly in operations) were putting together a competitive softball team. They’d heard that I played and asked me to join. Our team had diverse skills, backgrounds, races, and personalities. We had an absolute blast. The guys on this team just got along. And there, I started a close friendship with a guy named Steve Inskeep.
Steve grew up in Fort Wayne and went to Indiana University. Raised near Chicago, his teams were the Bears, Cubs, and Hoosiers. Harry Carry was a god. He wanted to live in Atlanta and moved there without a job. He interviewed around and chose to work at AT&T. He was a good athlete, smart, enjoyed sports, and loved to explore Atlanta.
Steve was there when my diabetes would take a nosedive. We’d be out with the guys, and I’d get that hypo-induced glassy-eyed look. Understanding that gaze is an acquired skill, Steve was the one guy in our group that knew it. He’d go to the bar and get an orange juice.
“Here Reed, take this.”
“No Keep, I don’t need that.”
“Yes, this will help.”
“No, I’m good.”
At this point, I could insert the clip of Julia Roberts in Steel Magnolias to show how this could have gone down. But Steve was cool.
“Reed, just drink this. Then we’ll get back on track.”
I trusted him, drank the OJ, and thanked him the next day. Now that’s type 1 friendship!
Then there are the times in a friendship when spontaneity, misunderstanding, and hilarity ensues. And one night, that involved my diabetes. Steve and I were double dating roommates and ended up back at their apartment. It was approaching 11 pm and time for my shot of NPH, so I excused myself and went out to my car to give the injection. Not so fast … as I was preparing to do so, my date walked towards me. My supplies were in my trunk, and I fumbled them as she approached.
Date: Reed, aren’t you being a little presumptuous?
Me: What do you mean?
Me: Why are you out here?
Date: I know what you are doing out here!
Me: You do? I didn’t think you knew. I was going to tell you later.
Date: Later? I know exactly what you are doing … you are getting condoms!
With a skeptical look, I explained that I was a diabetic and came out to get my insulin. And no, I wasn’t preparing for anything else. I walked back inside and told Steve it was time to go. We left. He asked what had happened. I told him, and he belly laughed for several minutes. He said you have to be kidding me … she thought you were out in your car getting condoms?!! More outrageous laughter. We laughed all the way to Waffle House.
Steve and I shared a lot of good times, but to this day, we still get a chuckle out of that evening. You never know the conversations that will happen when you live with diabetes.
Keep – here’s a salute to you and our friendship – which included you watching out for my diabetes – and our good times in Atlanta that included Tom Grose, Timothy Johns, the Braves, your beloved Cubs and Harry Carry, Fulton County Stadium, Music Midtown, early mornings at Waffle House, running the Hootch and more.