Just for a Little Rice

Jorge Milanes Despaigne

Cuban store where rationed products are sold. Foto: Caridad

“Every month I have to go verify the weight of the rice that’s designated for our market and then travel with it in the truck from the central warehouse to our store, otherwise they’ll reduce it considerably along the way. I’m so tired of all this!”

“What? What did you say?” I asked my brother with astonishment, since he has worked as a clerk at the market for several years.

“Yes, at the end of every month I have to go to the central distribution warehouse to look for the grain listed in the ration books for distribution the following month. There’s always a huge line, so today I got up early to get there that much earlier,” he continued.

“I was the fifth in the line, but since the scale was broken, some people were taking sacks of rice based on the “average weight”. That’s something I’ve done in the past but I’ve always end up noting that I was short on rice.”

“And you, don’t you want any rice?” the warehouse worker asked me. “No, I’m going to wait for the scale to be fixed,” I answered.

“Well, step back and let those who are going to take the merchandise come through,” he responded, with a certain tyrannical tone.

“I immediately stepped away, a little upset, but I had no other alternative. A little later I walked up closer to see what they were doing with the others,” said my brother.

“You don’t have to look at anything, we already told you to get outta here,” the warehouse worker reproached me, by this point behaving outright rudely.

“I stayed there until 1:00 in the afternoon without even drinking a glass of water.

“Finally, they brought back the digital scale, now repaired. They called me, loaded it with a number of sacks of rice. Moreover, to bring it all up to the proper weight, they began filling one of the bags with more rice – all of that because I had demanded what was my right,” concluded my brother.

While I was listening to my brother, I thought that he better not return to the central warehouse because one of these days he’s going to get himself in hot water.