Day Tripper (but in Havana)

Por: Antonio López Sánchez

I wish this was the occasion to talk about the Beatles’ famous single, released at Christmas 1965. But it’s not like that. Another is the anecdote, and the reflection it provokes, when one stars in adventures, adventures and unseats and becomes, albeit by force, a one-day traveler.
A dear friend arrives from the Scandinavian country where he lives and contacts me. We agreed to meet at the central corner of L and 23, then go to another friend’s house in El Vedado and meet with our partners and so on. That’s where the journeys begin. The record store on that same corner, opposite the Yara cinema, now showcases a newly built, solid shoe. In addition, the fence that surrounded it has been replaced, before it was just a close, and the new perimeter has grown to a good height of meters and so much. However, as I prepared to wait for my friend, taking walks under the shade of the ample space outside the store, a friendly employee approaches me.
–Good morning. Look, I’m sorry for the inconvenience, but you can’t stand here and connect to the Internet. “They scold us,” he tells me, with all courtesy, and even something grieving.
“I’m not here to connect. I’m waiting for a person,” I reply.
As my phone remains in my pocket and as there may not be any edicts planned to prevent someone from standing there waiting for someone else, the lady leaves me alone. However, my little angel of conscience directs me to leave the outer space of the store. So they don’t scold the employee because of me, he whispers in my ear. In fact, as my friend arrived, I witnessed that at least three times, the same lady, always in the best of ways, had to go out and reject the people who sit there to connect to the Internet. Then my demon, also from the conscience, but with a cry, I am called to write. Although the nefarious journeys of the day were just beginning.
The first absurdity lies in the fact that the Internet must be consulted in the middle of public roads. We didn’t have it before, someone can say. Well, but connectivity isn’t a favor or a gift. In addition to being a state obligation, such service is paid, and well expensive, in a currency that we do not earn on our salaries and to a single institution in the country that provides such service. So, whether the provision is good or bad, you have to die with them. Internet access, in today’s world, is comparable to having light bulbs, kitchens and bathrooms in houses. No one conceives going out to cook or bathe on the sidewalk.
The second thing is that I ignore the extent to which the periphery of a store, which is already a public place, may be subject to certain access bans. In honor of the truth, some people sitting there, in their matter of connecting, I don’t think they’re an excessive nuisance. Anyone who does not behave properly, in a store or in the middle of the street, and no matter how public the space, will always have to behave under certain rules, then, that’s what the authorities are for.
This prohibition, in the already limited rank that Cubans have, puts a greater pitfall in the possibility, the need, to use technologies. In addition, I can assure you that, for the employees, whose function (for which they collect their salary) is to sell records inside the store, it must be quite unpleasant to be all day mountaining those who sit there. More so if, despite the kindness I saw in the orders, someone questions them in bad shape or just refuses to leave. Otherwise, anyone passing through that corner will notice that around there are many people scattered on walls, sidewalks and corners, to access the wifi. So, if the idea was to beautify the ornate, it wasn’t achieved. The store now looks like a grey island, surrounded by everywhere from robinsons who seem to claim help from their portable devices.
My friend comes to the end, astonished by the delay of the almonds stretching to almost an hour and both a twenty-minute journey from Ten October. Nothing like Europe to pay for amazement. That’s where our minimum started, but crushing odyssey.
Like I said, we were in the middle of 23rd and L. Before going to the planned house, also in El Vedado, on 12th Street, my friend asks me to accompany you to urgent purchases that you must then take home. I clarify, for the possible exegetas, that we did go to a celebration, but the purchases required were of various products, food and others, to meet the needs of their mother, an elderly and already lying person. A bottle of rum, however difficult it is to acquire, is not a product of first need, even when one is on his way to a party, although it should not be difficult to find, more in Cuba, that so much rum produces.
In order not to make the story too extensive, I will say that we walked, under the soothing sun at noon in late October, and without results, about seven (or there we leave the bill) establishments spread across markets, kiosks, stained glass windows, whispers and various counters. Practically already in 12 (and those who know El Vedado take accounts from the distance), it was that we found the products that my friend required to buy.
One, the first place, and which must have unseated the curse, was closed for repairs, for a couple of months now. Well, a point against our ignorance, what a remedy if you don’t go through there often and don’t know. But the remaining six were handed out the justifications for not working:
(a) two of them, because they are receiving finished products; for this reception stop sales, as long as they unload, count, organize, transport inside, store and count ten or ten thousand boxes of anything, with the corresponding readings and signatures of invoices, drives, papers and their respective copies; it is Hercules’ task to dare to wait for them to finish and resume their labors;
b) one, for the lunch schedule of the only employee, who must close the place to go to lunch and who, of course, stops sales; there was a warning sign;
c) another, by a box toar, in the middle of working hours, and, of course, sales must be stopped to do so;
d) two were simply closed; one, with employees stationed as guardians and who didn’t even let us go further, besides, we were tired enough of walking in the sun to even ask a reason; the other was closed and already, without signs or employees; for the time of sale and work in any establishment in the Western and Eastern world, between midnight and three o’clock in the afternoon.
Chance? Right now, every person who reads these words has surely suffered something similar or worse. The only difference is that whoever suffered it, this time, can publish their experience. It is even certain that there are those who have suffered it more than once. Starting with this same write, in dissimilar moments, circumstances, places and need for products.
It would plow into the sea, once again, to stop to name inefficiencies, causes, bad methods and more absurdity that happen in the core of the functioning of many of our simplest daily processes. Absurd and bad methods that annoy, make life more difficult, more uncomfortable and are not the fault of the blockade. Moreover, they are almost never right, changed, let alone punished by those who provoke them. The causes, the justifications can be thousands. The consequences are summarized in one: many more difficulties and problems for a people who have plenty of difficulties and problems on a daily basis.
What working procedure mandates that the goods to renew assortments be received during sales hours and that the sale must be stopped in order to carry out the procedure? What urgency does a cash toy dictate in the middle of working hours? In such cases, I always think of these terrible capitalist sites, designed to keep consumerist minds alienated, and that work 24 hours a day. How will they receive new goods, how will they change their turn, how will the box toss, never stop selling?
Here, in socialism, the ultimate and first function of institutions, more if they are state, must be to satisfy the people, who in the end, even own it. Here, moreover, a society is built where we are all supposed to act and execute our social and labor roles as best as possible, for the sake of our neighbour, the companion; here, where nothing or almost nothing is sold to alien to anyone, but out of sheer and harsh daily need, why doesn’t it work the same?
I always remember, my father died of old age, the story of a friend of his who before closing the winery with a small bar where he worked (the closing was at twelve o’clock at night), I had to leave the fridges full of beer. That way they’d be cold the next day. In fact, and I heard this more than once, if sometimes a customer asked for an equis mark and the man didn’t have it, he would cross the street and buy it from the nearest winemaker.
If this employee did not fulfill his many responsibilities or if it affected the clientele, the dismissal, and therefore the hunger, his and his family, if he lost his job, gravitated on his head. Try finding a cold drink today at any state-owned establishment, no matter if in pesos or currencies, and even in two or three private individuals. He’ll walk a lot more than this guy writes on marras Day.
But luckily, no one gets fired here anymore. It is probably an act of justice for users, I mean, customers, because, if it were done, maybe too many places would be left empty and we would spend half our lives walking, as travelers, but by force. Ω

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.