Cleaning Time at a Cuban Workplace

Jorge Milanes Despaigne

HAVANA TIMES – These days, it seems as though Cuban janitors can conceive of no better time to get to their duties than when you come into work or, worse, during the busiest working hours.

Just to amuse myself a bit, I stopped to see how this maintenance employee reprimanded those who came behind me for walking across the section of floor she was mopping.

I heard her say some rather offensive remarks, accompanied by various nasty looks. “Don’t walk over the wet floor, please, I don’t like people walking over the floors I clean, use the other door!”

These maintenance employees, as people who mop the floors at Cuban workplaces are commonly referred to, get their daily work done whenever they deem convenient, but the rest of the employees, having lost a considerable amount of time waiting for public transportation, are made to wait at the door for them to finish their duties. You can imagine that no few people are somewhat put off by this.

On one occasion, I asked why janitors always chose to start their maintenance duties during working hours. The reply I got was that the water supply could be cut off later in the day and that everything would stay dirty if they didn’t get their work done early.

When I was a kid, my mother would take me to stores, bookshops, government offices, banks and other public places and I remember seeing that all maintenance work was done very early in the morning or after working hours.

These duties involve the use of time, and spaces, that can easily be planned in accordance with the number of customers or employees present at the workplace, or adjusted around specific situations.

This is yet another example of how Cubans are making “optimal use of working hours”, an issue that has been the focus of much debate, and will likely continue to be for a long time.

Jorge Milanes

Jorge Milanes: My name is Jorge Milanes Despaigne, and I’m a tourism promoter and public relations specialist. Forty-five years ago I was born in Cojimar, a small coastal town to the east of Havana. I very much enjoy trips and adventure; and now that I know a good bit about my own country, I’d like to learn more about other nations. I enjoy reading, singing, dancing, haute cuisine and talking with interesting people who offer wisdom and happiness.

One thought on “Cleaning Time at a Cuban Workplace

  • Another “Only in Cuba” story: One of my Cuban buddies was trying to flirt with an attractive woman walking down the street towards La Rampa (23rd Ave) and away from the National Hotel. She was young and pretty and totally ignored him. I roared in laughter and my other buddy said he knew it was no use trying to make headway with this particular chica. I asked him how he knew that and he said because her uniform blouse indicated that she worked in housekeeping in the hotel. No way a ‘regular’ Cuban guy had a shot at a woman who had THAT job. The rest of the world says the same thing about runway models and movie stars. But…all together now…”only in Cuba” does a chica who cleans tourist hotel rooms get an attitude. Wonder why that is?

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