HAVANA TIMES — A few days ago, I had arranged to meet up with a colleague from Havana Times in Vedado.When I got onto the P-9 urban bus, I was lucky enough to sit next to the driver’s assistant who remained seated next to the window edge. Every time the bus stopped at a stop, he stuck half his body outside to ask people for their change.
Everything was fine up until then, I guess that this way of doing things speeds up the process, in some way, and people wait less time at the stop. There was a woman who was with them, making up part of this team it seemed. She always stood next to the driver and also charged passengers who normally got on the bus through the front door. The original Transmetro money box was covered and in front of the woman, there was a plastic bottle that had been cut in half with change inside, 20 cent coins.
They caught my attention ever since I got on the bus because they didn’t have a pleasant appearance, they were wearing quite dirty clothes, and the one who looked the worst was next to me, and he even lit up a cigarette.
The worst thing about this story is that at every stop they made, the lady diverted 5 pesos from the money passengers made and gave it to the driver, who put it in one of his already full pockets. Like someone who doesn’t want to, I watched them closely, I’ve always been very observant and nothing ever really passes me by.
The woman was so confident that at one moment she said to the driver that it was going to be 5 pesos at every stop, and that they would then divide it between the three of them.
I don’t know how many stops there are along the P9 bus route, what I do know is that it is quite a long journey, it could have more than 40 stops, and if they put aside 5 pesos at every stop, well they’re making a killing. What I don’t know is who exactly they are robbing, if it’s the Cuban people or the State. I believe it’s both because the first thing I ask myself is if I pay 1 peso and the bus costs 40 cents, is why I never get any change back, even when there is a bottle full of change right in front of me.
Forget it; everything is crystal clear; the main ones to blame for the malfunctioning of public transport are among the State employees. Many of us know that this is the country of chaos and I don’t know at this point what can be done to get this under control once and for all.
Maybe if wages were raised, although I believe that many Cubans have this need to take what isn’t theirs in their blood, and even if they had all the basics they needed to live, they would still steal, because the system has contributed to turning many of its citizens into kleptomaniacs.