The two anecdotes happen in just one week. The protagonists, all close and trustworthy, ooze amazement at their experiences. Let’s hear this little play of absurdity.
The two couples of old friends arrive at a recreational site, close to the sea, in order to share a couple of beers and a little talk time. Fortunately, ambient music, a selection of video clips from the seventies and eighties, as well as a pleasant option, is broadcast at a drinking volume so that it meames and does not interfere with dialogue. It’s early at night, close to the weekend, but the place is half busy. A central room, covered and between walls, has many tables available. The two outer wings, overlooking the sea, not so many. In fact, there’s only one. It should be noted that both the center and the two external places are very spacious.
While searching comfortably, one of the girls proposes to sit outside. The best-sighted and fresher arguments are accepted. The left wing is full. On the right wing, there is a single empty table whose view to the outside is truncated under a huge awning, which during the day protects from the sun but is now only a useless wall that interferes with the seascape and airflow. Required the presence of a waiter, it is suggested to move a table beyond the scope of the awning (coincidentally it is the last table), which is summed up only in a couple of meters. The waiter, astonished at the request, argues that it is established that the location of the tables cannot be changed, as if instead of a public experience of drinks and light meals, it was a sterilized salon for high-end neurological surgery. Of course, the following options, pulling one table from the inside to the other wing without awning or raising the blissful awning to its pick-up position, sound so absurd that it’s not even worth proposing. The two couples, resigned, sit indoors.
The customer arrives at one of those markets in national currency, in the heart of the city, where the same thing is sold a pliers as a underpants. This client is also a guy with a certain culture. Discover that there is liquid detergent and come to buy a couple of knobs. Namely, one for himself and one for his mother-in-law. In addition, there is no tail and a shelf offers a magnificent platoon of abundant jars, colorful in green and frothy hope. The employee is accompanied by a girl sitting on a sidewalk, whose purpose must be to entertain the employee during the long day, because nothing else does in a good time. At the request of two knobs, the seller argues that she can only dispatch one per person. “And here I have the circular signed by the director,” he defends himself as he wields a piece of paper, like a gladiator shield in the middle of the Colosseum arena. In the last carriage of logic, on that thin half-line over the chasms of stupor or despair, the customer explains that each knob has a different family as a destination, which with such a small amount, it is absurd to believe that the product will be resold. It assumes the customer that this must be the end of the measure, that the detergent reaches for all and no one will take it. Two knobs is a rational amount, he explains, and even invokes his mother-in-law. The negative, circular protective by, persists.
The customer, in the disjunction of appealing to the homicidal strangulation or the defeat of leaving without his own detergent (since the mother-in-law goes first), receives a revelation. From one of the heavenly instances that protect the user (because they treat him as such, even if they call him a client), the rogue San Zumbado offers him the solution with the memory of one of his pages. Hey, if I go out and come back in, you sell me the detergent? Technically, I’d buy only one knob at a time. In the face of the employee’s existential doubt (insurance not programmed for this option), the newly lit man leaves the market, turns the threshold and returns to the counter. A detergent knob, please. The saleswoman, perhaps appealing to the last kick of the hangers or with the smoke of the un foreseen by burning the circuit of her neurons, still wields one last defense. “Well, if I don’t see what you’re bringing in your backpack and your hands are empty, I can’t say anything.” The protective circular pales, withers, and the companion on the stool breaks to laugh nervously with laughter. The client leaves with his two knobs, victor, although he feels a little ridiculous, even pirric, faded the green hope.
Curtain, no final ovation.
The message of salvation received by the client is not coincidental. Already that prophet and protector of users in the endless shift changes and in counters and requests and red tape, the writer and journalist Hector Zumbado, had predicted situations like these. Apparently, a dangerous new outbreak of mechanitis is coming. I mean, the mechan disease. Maybe we’re attending the recurrence of this ailment or, perhaps, it never quite spilled.
For those who do not master the medical terminology of this appalling condition, we appeal to the discoverer’s own explanation:
“Recently the existence of a key gland called progress has been discovered in the endocrine system, which secretes two hormones fundamental to progress […] initiation and imaginalin, which act directly on the brain. And, of course, when this gland malfunctions, when there is insufficiency … mechanisticitis occurs right there […]. Simply, the mecanous stops thinking and reacts to a single stimulus: ORIENTATION. There is nothing more than joyful to a mecanous than to receive an orientation […]. Tying yourself with orientation is the vital thing. From then on everything becomes simple […]. The orientation is like lubricant, the magical ingredient that sets the whole mechanism in motion … and there goes the mecanous one driven by orientation! There he goes! On a single line, like the railway, rigid, uncompromising, impetuous. And so, in the face of a new situation, in the face of the slightest change, something that arises suddenly on the road, the mecanous cannot stop! It continues to uncontainable everything it finds in its path.”1
Because, in order not to appeal to bad faith (the employee and the director steal the detergent and therefore restrict its sale, the waiter does not want to walk two meters more in exchange for what he earns or because he ensures his livelihood with what he flakys and not with his salary), only the lack of the most elementary common sense , or the disease of inefficiency and desidia, would cause such situations. The customer is never right here. Orientation, like an absurd jester or, worse, as justification for dismantling, is taught and mocks the unhappy who fall under his overwhelming locomotive.
It is true that, in the face of certain scenarios of scarcity, it is necessary to regulate sales, to avoid hoarding. But that doesn’t mean doing a flat board with everything, without a minimum of reflection. If when buying a product there are no angry crowds clamoring to take it and it abounds in sight, what is the stiffness? On the other hand, does it cost so much to move a table in a recreational place? If these couples had been of another nationality, it is sad but true, the idea of a juicy tip would have trampled on the orientation and the table would go to the ceiling if requested. In the end, both absurd provisions, lack of imagination and indolence, translated into ineffective functionings of any kind, usually conceal greater evils. It is corruption, illegalities, diversions and crimes that move behind “the established”, whether it is a chain of insufferable and untidy procedures, some irrational law or a disposition that appears uncompromising. In addition, from any point of view, they only cause inconvenience to the people. More discomfort, as if they didn’t abound daily in our sunny insula.
The country’s highest leadership has already called for changing mindsets, squabing brains and deeds, discarding postures and making them deciduous. Minds are not changed by decree, but at least we must start with the decree (not the orientation), if it entails intentions of improvement. The orientation, now, would be to dust off, speed up, wake up, unbutton the paths of the people with awkwardness and inefficiency. As Zumbado rightly says, mechanisticitis is fought with a strong antibiotic called conscientine. A little more awareness, of thinking a little more of our neighbour for which we work as in oneself, would surely cure such ailments. Thus, such outbreaks would hardly survive. They would remain in the “medical” literature of costumbrism and humor, only in the smile and no longer in the bitterness of the evident or in the daily suffering of their victims. Ω
1 Héctor Zumbado: “Mecanosos”, in “Here is Zumbado!, Havana, Editorial Letras Cubanas, 2012, pp. 98 and 99.
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