Social Service (V)

Francisco Castro

Along Havana's Malecon Seawall.  Photo: Ana Maria Gonzalez
Along Havana's Malecon Seawall. Photo: Ana Maria Gonzalez

HAVANA TIMES, Nov. 10 – On my birthday I went to the Cuban Radio Human Resources Department.  I had to wait for the woman who was supposed to assist me to finish laughing at me, along with the station’s trainer, as I -full of apprehension and a bad premonition- sat in front of her desk.

She told me that without a City of Havana address it was impossible for any workplace in the capital to hire me.  I began to explain to her that I had been informed at the Ministry of Culture on what had to be done.

I had been told that the director of the radio station would have to write a letter to her saying that he accepted me carrying out my social service at the radio station and that he was requesting I be hired for two years as an exceptional case.  This is what is established in the new law (Decree Law 268 Modifying the Employment System).

Of course she didn’t allow me to finish my explanation.  In an unequivocal and ill-mannered way, she told me that she was familiar with the law and that I didn’t need to explain anything to her; she only asked me what I had done at the radio station.

I told her that I had been assigned there by the Ministry of Culture to fulfill my social service.  She responded that the assignment slip was not good for anything, because she was the one who requested personnel for radio stations.  She added that she couldn’t remember having requested anyone for Radio Progreso because no one else was needed there, especially not directors.

So, it turned out that I was not necessary at the radio station and that the slip issued by the Ministry of Culture was worthless.  Obviously I began to see all black, with a few spots of brilliant color.

It’s very hard to hear you’re not needed, and it’s especially difficult when that rejection comes from a lack of understanding, intolerance, prejudice and ignorance.  It’s an instant in which you feel like your whole life is a big garbage can, and one where everything you thought that you’d achieved vanishes like fetid gas released by waste.

Obviously they weren’t going to leave me in the street.  They offered me a job offer where I was really necessary.  It was in a hobby circle at the Pioneer’s Palace [where some children go for extra curricular activity].  An instructor was needed there to teach children how radio programs are produced.  I did in fact accept that offer because they would take care of all the paperwork necessary for me to work there as an exceptional case.

Very few times in life have I felt like the world has fallen on top of me.  That moment of impotence was one of the most revolting I’ve ever had to face, and I sincerely don’t want it to happen to anyone else.

I was left with an unspeakable feeling of disappointment; it was like the residue of all the powerlessness and rage I had within.  Everything seemed like a big lie, a gigantic plot aimed not only against me, but against everything that represents change, renovation and revolution.

I felt an overwhelming desire to leave the country, to tear up my university degree and scream bloody murder.  Discovering these feelings inside me caused a great deal of sadness, and I fell into a deep depression.

Luckily, I bounced back quickly. I continued working on the made-for-TV story with my tutor, and this filled me with positive desire to continuing working.  I had again found my vocation, and the prospect for new work lightened my spirit.

Currently I’m waiting to receive my new ID card, which will have a temporary address in Bauta, a municipality in Havana Province.  A friend who lives there let me use his address out of good will.  We’ll see if I can finally -with my “clean” ID- fulfill my social service in the “capital of all Cubans.”