Our Breadline on a Sunday Morning

Regina Cano

Waiting to buy bread can mean hours in line. Photo: Caridad

HAVANA TIMES — As most of us Cubans know, to participate in waiting in a line means including oneself in a good barometer of opinion.

I must confess, it had been a good while since I had last had that first-hand experience of literally being “in the “bread line.”*

So as not to lose so much time, sometimes I don’t even buy bread — in a line with 60 other people ahead of me — given that the wait might take a couple hours.

But people! I did get to hear varied opinions on various topics.

One was about the disrespect shown by the young and the way education used to be. Another topic was the corruption of leaders and how the younger generations seek to imitate them.
People pointed to “bad decisions on everthing” that have resulted in this poor state of affairs and how not making them again is another challenge.

Some folks noted the characteristics of Cubans as a whole and our tendency to impose absolute truth in quantifying and qualifying things, and how parroting or shutting up have been the path taken as a survival tool for most people.

Another person talked about how young people prefer a future outside of Cuba instead of doing something for it, since they’re convinced that “nothing is changing here.”

The people in line felt and shared their experiences, with a number of those participating in the conversation exceeding forty.

There were also international issues like the Middle East wars and how motivation’s for power and expansion don’t justify invasions.

There was discussion about the outraged/occupy movements – in Egypt, Spain, Mexico and the United States. One man was of the opinion that this was a middle class movement and that not all of its participants are part of the 99%.

This all went on until the viewpoints were brought back down to earth by the bakery itself, which brought this whole group discussion to a halt.

Someone spoke out saying, “Today the electricity didn’t go off, they aren’t lacking water, they have flour, the equipment and oven are working fine, and they have the necessary workers on hand,” compelling everyone to try to figure out why everything was moving so slowly.

Someone speculated that the source of the delay could have been the interest of the bakers in making a few batches of pastry – those that filled the display cases. They said these were “in the same oven in which the bread is made,” but that “they could make some immediate profits if they sold the pastry first,” since many people seemed like they hadn’t had breakfast.

“But this in fact is our daily bread,” and so continued the comments, until with the arrival of the bread, when people burst into shouts of “Here comes the bread” and “Now don’t y’all start trying to cut into this line that I’ve been in since 7:30 am.” By then it was almost 10:00.

Among those few who conversed there was a genuine setting of sharing opinions offered to those who would pay attention, as people gain confidence and faith in themselves that allows them to stop and speak out at the most effective places and times.

I can assure you that being about the fifteenth in line to buy (because I was there early) I got home close to 11:15, short of only 45 minutes before the bakery’s official closing time, but with there still lots of people waiting to buy their bread.
* A phrase, used for humorous purposes or ridicule, meaning to waste time.