HAVANA TIMES — I was going to work early in a crowded van, one of those terrible morning rush hours when everyone is heading to their job or school.
It was the time when people were off to do their shift at the hospital or had gotten up at dawn to run personal errands, despite having to deal with the appalling state of our insufficient public transportation.
Sitting there, it’s impossible to avoid the conversations of other commuters, and on this occasion I was forced to be the auditory and ocular witness of a chat between two women in their thirties, both talking and laughing loudly.
By the terms they used, I could immediately tell they were teachers or professors.
One was telling the other how she had had to leave her class the day before to attend a special staff meeting in which an incident with a colleague was being examined.
The women’s behavior was boisterous with chuckling and gestures that — far from giving the image of educators — reminded one of unruly kids. Their hysterical personalities caught my attention.
The height of my amazement was when the one closest to me recounted that in the middle of the teachers meeting an argument broke out between the principal and the teacher in question.
With all kinds of histrionics, she recreated the course of event in detail for her colleague. In this, the administrator said to the instructor:
“Then… we don’t have an understanding.
To which the subordinate replied, “No, we don’t have an understanding.”
It was here that the storyteller entered the argument saying, “What we have here is the Pact of Zanjon!”
According to her, this triggered a wave of laughter on the part of the rest of those present.
I was left perplexed with that anecdote. This woman, being a teacher, had established an analogy between the arguments used by her peers and passages from a well-known historical event in our struggle for independence.
These were the exact words used by Spanish General Arsenio Martinez Campo and Cuban Lieutenant General Antonio Maceo Grajales in the epic event known as the Baragua Protest, which was the military expression of the disagreement of the Mambi independence fighters with the Pact of Zanjon, which ended the war without independence having been achieved.
You can understand my astonishment in hearing such tremendous nonsense, all from the mouth of no less than a teacher. But the height of my surprise was a little later when she revealed that she had recently defended her master’s thesis.
This explains yet once again the dubious quality of our education professionals. A sector with plenty of employees unfit for the work they carry out.
But no, we live in this world of statistics, where Cuba touts its vast number of university-level graduates with thousands of masters and “masters.”