By Osmel Almaguer
Yesterday I stayed at the office later than usual, therefore my friend Jorge and I had to catch public transportation to get home, since our institution’s bus had already left.
When this happens, we’re almost always able to get home without problems, though on occasion one can spend hours at a stop waiting for a bus that never comes. A long line forms, and with it despair as people begin getting more and more upset. Neither during that time nor after does there ever come an explanation for what caused the problem.
Yesterday was a case in point. We had to take the P-8 bus, which dropped us in the Cojímar neighborhood, halfway between work and the Alamar housing projects.
Then we had to wait for another bus to take us on to where we live. Fortunately one stopped, but it was neither a city bus nor one assigned to a workplace; it was the type belonging to a company that rents them, but whose drivers pocket the fares.
After the hassle of boarding, because the Cojímar stop was similar to the mad rush at the previous one, I desperately looked for a place to make myself comfortable without being bothered too much by the other riders.
This was not possible, and it turned out that I was the one who bothered a very full-sized woman who, along with her daughter – also obese – was beside the door. When I passed by her, my backpack got tangled up with her purse, and she thought I was trying to steal it. I realized this later on when her look became insistent and resentful, as did that of her daughter.
I apologized to her, but not even my best manners or my widest smile could assuage her mind of the notion that I was a pickpocket.
Pickpockets are those who steal wallets and slip things out of other people’s pockets, generally people who are in lines and on buses, which are ideal places for that practice.
The idea that they thought I was a pickpocket really upset me, though I was careful not to show it. I understood what that woman must have felt. Surely she lives in an environment where one has to be careful 24 hours a day, because the same person who robs you can also cheat or mug you.
Yet when getting off the bus I felt they had stolen something from me, not a wallet, not the loose change I had in my pocket, but the image of honesty that I thought I had possessed over all these years.
Following that unpleasant moment, my feeling of anger turned into one of pity, for the heavy woman and for all those people who are victims of such crimes so common these days.