HAVANA TIMES — In the post I wrote last week (A Micro-Wave Oven and Macro-Stressed Woman in Cuba), I promised readers I would finish the absurd tale of my microwave’s ups-and-downs in a second post.
I’d left the story at the third and last failed attempt at fixing the oven.
When the employee saw me carrying the oven into the shop again, he treated me very kindly. It didn’t take me long to realize the reason behind so much courtesy.
It’s very simple: before taking the microwave back, I made a routine phone call, to make sure this would be the last time I would have to haul the blessed oven from one place to the other. I told the person at the other end the never-ending-story (about the never-working-oven), and, as it turns out, the person who’d been speaking to me on the phone was the boss.
The technician was heavily reprimanded for not having immediately closed the book on the oven after the big dent on the chassis had been discovered.
Despite the apology, and asking me not to register a written complaint about the incident, I had to wait for nearly an hour, sitting outside the small office.
Forced to kill time, one inevitably starts conversations with fellow customers. Like me, they were waiting to pick up their fixed appliances or the mountain of paperwork they needed to fill out.
Like politics, the high price and scarcity of food and the stifling heat are mandatory topics of conversation for all Cubans. Each of us shared anecdotes about our absurd day-to-day lives. Of all the stories people told, the most curious was the one about the technical norm (about which my next post will be about).
They finally called me into the office. I signed a lot of documents and headed straight for the only (far-away) store where I could get them to replace the oven or give me my money back.
The establishment didn’t have similar models or any unit in the same price range. There was only one that was 20-some CUCs more expensive, a sum I can’t afford to pay right now. So, the only choice was to give them the oven and then come back for my money.
The manager, however, told me I had to go to the store I’d bought the oven at, as I had paid using a debit card and the purchase had been registered at that store only. I felt my head was about to explode. She noticed the unfriendly expression on my face and, a bit intimidated, said to me: “But, give me your ID and debit card, and I’ll see if we can give you your money here…”
I don’t know whether it was out of fear of my reaction or sympathy, but she gave me my money. The empty spot where the appliance once sat still remains in my kitchen. I continue to cook without a microwave and with macro-stress.