Jorge Milanes Despaigne
Manolo is a friend of mine who used to work as an electrician at the Havana train station. Recently he found himself without work as a result of the previously announced round of mass government layoffs.
On several occasions I saw him in the streets, depressed, downcast. When we chatted he shared with me how a man without money was a person without value.
Another of those times I asked him how he was doing. He responded saying that he still didn’t have work and that he needed a job urgently. He asked that if I heard of someone looking for an electrician, then to please call him immediately. He then gave me his phone number.
People have to be creative and ingenious to run their own businesses, which is something new for us. The fact is that we should have been pursuing this alternative a long time ago.
A few hours ago I ran into that friend who had been walking around depressed, but he didn’t look anything like the way I’d seen him the last time.
“Manolo!” I called from the sidewalk. I walked up to him and saw his face animated with hope. It was to the point that I was surprised because he was glowing with a new look.
“How are things going?” I greeted him.
“Real good, compadre,” he responded.
“Where are you working?” I asked.
“Well, the day after we saw each other, at a bakery near my house I heard a man commenting that this would be his opportunity to do what he had wanted to for a long time. When I took the chance to ask him what that was, he told me that he was going to make shoe soles and sell them to self-employed workers.
“So I told him: ‘count me in!’ I thought he was playing, but four days later we met at that same place, where he wanted to know if I was willing to work with him. So now I make shoe soles, I get paid weekly and I’ve never made so much money in my life!”