Class awareness

By: Jorge Fernández Era

Transporte en Cuba

“You ask yourself, I’ll stay.
He was his partner and they had forged an illegal exit. In the terminal where he worked he solved the chassis of an old Volga discharged, which his friend, with great patience and not little work, managed to turn into a brand new boat with an outboard turbine engine and a stability in the water outside of all calculations. But things are the way they are and not the way you dream them.
Two months ago he was driving his P6 Ten October Causeway uphill, and for entertaining himself with the girl he picked up every day in the Single Market, he didn’t see the pothole in time and he put in the braking he put in. The screaming was the least of it: the extra thing was the suck-sucking of the little fucker who rested on his mom’s legs in one of the pregnant women’s seats. And it’s not that the candy fell off, I’m sure his mother would have forced him to pick him up from the floor, but where he did it: downhill esophagus to crash into the middle of his childhood stomach.
The baby saved his life thanks to the operation practiced by third-year medical students in an emergency room, and he was saved from trial and prison because the Cuban Penal Code says nothing about forced ingestion of chambelonas and other administericles.
The disciplinary council’s decision made exemplary with the participation of its colleagues in the metrobus terminal was to apply an educational cut measure: to conduct an investigation into the inhuman working conditions in which transport workers worked in the first half of the twentieth century, and the subsequent elaboration of a presentation that he would have to present at the National Forum of History of the Workers’ Movement of his union. He never so vehemently longed to spend a season in prison, but he had to serve the punishment: the criminal record certification soiled by a crime did not suit his northern navigation plans.
A librarian suggested that she read Trams in Havana, a volume exposing the emergence, development and disappearance of this means of transport in the capital of the Republic. In the chapter “The Disciplinary Regulation” he found what he was looking for. There, the obligations and duties imposed by the executives of the American company The Havana Electric Railway Light Company were exposed to workers in the sector in more than a dozen pages. For him it was the great discovery.
A neighbor of his who worked as deputy director of a publisher of the Cuban Book Institute helped him organize ideas and give them a happy term. The result was the selection of some points of that disciplinary regulation and their respective commentary on each of them:

“When drivers and motorists first leave the month to stop attending without their dismissor’s prior permission, they will be suspended for three days. A second foul in the course of the same month will be punishable by five-day suspension. When the employee is missing for the third time in the same month he will be punished with a new suspension or fine or both or separation from the company.”

(In my bus terminal I missed five days last month because of the carnivals. My file is intact. The three hundred pesos I handed over to the director did not constitute a fine: it was an altruistic gesture on my part for him to enjoy the aodichos as well.)

“They will always be attentive and fine with the people and will receive and transfer to the administration any complaints made to them. They will answer questions regarding provisions, itineraries, directions and points of importance. They will be attentive to the signs made to them by passengers and will help older people get in and out of cars. They will be strictly respectful, especially with the ladies.”

(With the public you never look good. Respect must be imposed on them, because if they are not the ones who put their foot on you or place it in the stirrup to travel hanging, it does not matter if they are ladies or elderly people).

“Drivers and motorists will not eat, smoke or do any act that will distract them while in the car.”

(Abusive. That’s man’s exploitation by hunger. They don’t know what it’s like to take a trip without a cigar in one hand and a bread with a hot dog in the other, or without hearing through one ear, purely decibel, the Jackal’s last disc, preventing the passengers’ impropers from entering the other).

“Other employees will not be kept from one car to another, except in strictly indispensable cases. For no reason should more than two employees be in the same car from six in the morning until twelve o’clock at night.”

(What a way to discourage camaraderie. There is no act of more sublime human relationship than s stop two buses in the middle of the street to exchange greetings and experiences, especially when we agree a dozen co-workers on the same journey).

“They will not admit animals of any kind to the inside of the car or to carry packages that have a bad smell or may get in the way of it.”

(In my P6 have traveled bunches of banana donkeys loaded by idem types, sacks with chickens, cages with rabbits, and even pigs on Christmas Eve that are a package because of their bad smell. And there has been no passenger complaining, as I do not complain, that I charge well for the favor of allowing it).

“The driver will make sure at the exit that the car is clean. You will be responsible for any deterioration that occurs to you in the time you are in charge, even if it is discovered after being returned at the station.”

(Hediondez to be cleaned by those who throw trash, vomit and urinate on the bus. As for the deterioration, the most I have been able to do is close a sheet to each door, remove most of the lamps and the hammers from breaking the crystals and transport them all to my house: so I prevent travelers from taking them to theirs).

“It will stop your car completely to get passengers down or up only at recommended points as stops. You will not allow your car to pass any of these without taking the people who are waiting for it or pick up people at those points that are not determined.”

(Those who drafted this regulation have not seen the October Ten Causeway at eight o’clock in the morning. If electric trams were still circulating there, they would perceive clusters of people hanging from the wires regardless of the 220-volt current, waves of people falling back into the iron mole without fear of falling under their steel wheels… and drivers stepping on the accelerator, protecting them from certain death).

In the conclusions of the presentation, to shore up criticism of a regulation that only showed that drivers at the time were simple pawns of their backs, he added a devastating fact: the trams charged 4.72 pesos a day, 113.28 monthly wages for 24 working days (it was not explained how they could, at the end of their working day, shoot the single market “a Chinese soup and a fried rice to lift” , as the book was suspiciously quoted). Today drivers, covered by an employment policy that prioritizes them over doctors, graduates and engineers, have a salary of almost a thousand pesos per month, which does not include self-ownership or the collection of five pesos for picking up out of stop.
In the penultimate paragraph he cited the numerous strikes called in the first half of the last century by transport workers to protest the difficult working conditions – anyone would do the same, he thought while re-ousing the regulation. To top it off, he raised that The Havana Electric Railway Light Company or other similar consortia are the same ones that currently impose ordinances on suffered American drivers as the object of study. “Nothing further away from the climate of freedom and full rights enjoyed today by those attached to the Havana Urban Bus Company,” he concluded.

–What’s your pen, okay? What’s with the last-minute cracker?
“I’m just gaining class awareness. Ω

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