Jorge Milanes Despaigne
HAVANA TIMES — At ten in the morning, I was returning from Vedado on a P-5 bus (which goes all the way down to the ocean drive in Old Havana). I got off and crossed the street, heading towards the Plaza de Armas. Suddenly, I hear two young men call me.
“Sir, sir!” I heard them say behind me. When I turned around, I saw that one of the two men, standing across the street, was signaling at me with his hand, telling me to walk towards him. I did.
“Good morning,” they said, showing me your ID card. I was confused.
“Can we see your ID, please?”
“Yes, of course.”
I took out my Identification Card, handed it over to them. The man looked at it but, apparently, wasn’t entirely convinced.
“You should be more discrete,” the other one said in a low tone of voice.
I stared at him straight in the eyes, confused. My expression gradually became more serious. I had no idea what was going on.
“What are you saying? What are you talking about?” I asked insistently.
“That you should be more discrete. We’ve been watching you since you got on the bus. You’ve been trying to pickpocket someone but haven’t gotten the chance yet.”
I couldn’t keep quiet anymore and said to him firmly, looking him straight in the eyes:
“Where did you specialize in spotting pickpockets? I doubt that’s even your job, because you’ll never get anyone the way you’re going about it.”
“Do you work around here?”
“Yes,” I replied, somewhat uncomfortable.
“Could you show me your work ID?”
“Yes, of course.” I showed him my workplace ID and, while he called the station to ask whether I had a criminal record, I leaned against a tree to wait for his response. A minute later, they called me over and said:
“Our apologies, sir! We’re not experts in this sort of thing. The thing is, we’re trying to clamp down on a network of pickpockets who work the P-5 every day. We still have a long way to go.”
“I want you to catch every pickpocket in Havana but – I don’t know, I could be wrong – but it seems like you’re way off target!”