Celia’s Wet Sugar

Jorge Milanes Despaigne

Trinidad's Valley of the Sugar Mills.

HAVANA TIMES, Dec 6 — Celia is a nice woman who works at a bookstore in Old Havana. I met her several years ago and from that very first time encounter, I knew that she was a good person. She’s also proud of her first name, which has several meanings – one of which is “smooth as silk.”

Anyway, a few days ago she showed me the wet sugar she’d bought in a store at the price of 6 pesos a pound. According to the salesperson, that was the only sugar they had left for sale.

Celia had bought sugar earlier that month in the market at the same price, so she was upset about her having to have paid the same price for sugar that looked bad.

She waited until later to return to the store where she’d bought it; she wanted to see if the salesperson had told her the truth.

She asked her supervisor if she could take off from the bookstore for a little while to take care of the problem. When she got back to the store, even from the counter one could see a new bag of sugar on sale. Celia was ready to have a few words with the man who had later brought out the good sugar.

“Look, I bought this soaked sugar this morning because you said you didn’t have anything else for sale, and now I see you’re selling another sack of dry sugar. I want it to sweeten the baby’s milk, so please, exchange it for me.”

The salesperson’s face revealed his irritation, but without saying anything to Celia, he exchanged the sugar.

While he was putting it on the counter, she said to him:

“Don’t get all upset. You know that if an inspector comes in here and finds you selling sugar like this you’re going to be fined. I work in sales too, but they taught me good customer relations. That’s why I wouldn’t have sold that sugar at the same price – it weighs more when it’s wet. Plus, you’re not supposed to sell it damp anyway.”

Celia returned to the library content. I knew she’d given the salesperson a good lesson.