HAVANA TIMES — The Azul (“Blue Uniform”) at the bus stop near my house earns a salary for doing nothing. Or, better said, he doesn’t earn a salary, he merely collects it. Every morning, I see him standing alone under a tree, wearing his familiar indigo uniform.
A “Blue Uniform”, for those who don’t know, is a Ministry of Transportation (MITRANS) employee who works around the city of Havana, ensuring State vehicles stop and offer the population rides free of charge.
They replaced Havana’s notorious “Yellow Uniforms”, who continue to perform the same duties in the country’s rural areas.
When they created this group of officials, the situation of Cuba’s public transportation system was grave. Now it is simply bad (and not so much) and the Blue Uniforms based at bus stops have ceased to have real impact (and perhaps sense).
As for the specific Blue Uniform I am concerned about here (the one at my stop), I suspect that his idleness, in addition to the reasons I’ve outlined above, stems from his work ethic and efficiency.
This particular Blue Uniform has said rude things to people on more than one occasion and has even asked them to give him money for doing his job. Though I am unaware of the exact salary earned by these officials, I am positive it is not enough to live on (like all Cuban salaries), but that does not give him the right to ask people for money.
Every morning, when I see him, crestfallen and bored beneath the tree, I think about the possibility of requesting his services, but I quickly change my mind. I suppose I’m not the only one who goes through that. I prefer to use the city’s public transportation, which, though improved, continues to be unpredictable and involves too much contact with other people.
MITRANS must reassess the usefulness of the Blue Uniforms, at a broad or local level. They may still serve a purpose elsewhere, but they certainly do not at my stop.