Maria Matienzo Puerto
HAVANA TIMES, March 30 — I’m rarely happy. But despite having gotten a tooth taken out, and even though I’m still under the influence of drugs, I’m pleased to have been attended by “Dr. K.”
I’m writing about him not because he asked me to, but because I somehow find it satisfying to talk about the good work done by a specialist. His dexterity and fine skills allowed him to perform the procedure as quickly and as painlessly as possible.
This wasn’t the first time he attended to me, but on other occasions the appointments were for routine matters; either cleanings (these have a scientific name that I don’t remember) or simple check-ups.
Being a good observer, I noted his deference to everyone, even though the chairs in the clinic where he works are in terrible condition, the materials there are in short supply and he has to work with other people who don’t love their profession like he does.
None of this seems to matter to him, plus one doesn’t have to always whine about everything.
Perhaps my happiness is marked because, during this weekend of dental recovery, I met other people who love their professions. Though they might be better paid in other fields, they continue to do their jobs the best they can and with a smile – even though they don’t get trips abroad or receive their salaries in hard currency or get an occasional bag full of toiletries that some jobs provide.
It’s not conformism, but I don’t think it’s resignation either.
Alberto, for example, is a veterinarian. Although the conditions in the clinic where he works aren’t optimal, and it suffers from all the bureaucracy of any workplace, he doesn’t resign himself to the death of any of his four-legged patients simply because he’s frustrated or can’t spend a weekend at the Varadero beach resort.
Similarly, Annia is a lawyer who works for a law firm (in civil law), but she doesn’t go through life with the same bitterness as the rest of her colleagues.
She does all that she can to make time to go to the beauty parlor and to get out to parties. She also makes sure that every time a battered or divorced woman comes into her office, she gives them all the necessary explanations so that they don’t feel threatened by her authority.
If there’s a slogan that’s true on this island and is repeated to the point of exhaustion, it’s that “We are Cuba.” And it’s true: We are Cuba – despite everything.
Despite the bureaucracy, the incompetent, the repressors, the censors, the police, the criminals, the sweetened or the demonic image that is projected of Cuba, I’m proud of my nationality.
I believe — no, I’m sure — that with everyone I’ve mentioned here, as well as with so many others, if they had the opportunity to change the course of their lives and thus avoid the daily narrowness and miseries they endure here, they would do so with the same optimism with which they’ve come to terms with the controversial Cuba of today.