By Safie M. Gonzalez
HAVANA TIMES – A really typical phrase we Cubans normally say when faced with certain situations is: “this is why we’re in the boat we’re in”, which is something more or less like: we’re stuck, we can’t make progress.
It’s become a very popular phrase. When we’re faced with a really normal task like trying to get a document processed or go grocery shopping – online or physically – there is always an obstacle that makes these things difficult.
Lines outside stores are a constant subject of discussion in the past few months, because of the pandemic. Every Cuban has a Masters in standing in km-long lines, under the scorching sun, waiting for hours to buy something.
Yet, we are still a long way away from having better-organized management that pleases the people. I haven’t been standing in lines recently because of health problems, but just a few days ago, my neighbor called me really early in the morning on my cellphone and told me that chicken had come into the store near my house. So, I didn’t think twice and left to stand in line.
I arrived just before 8 AM, and there were already around 100 people waiting. My ID card was scanned (which is what they do nowadays at stores in times of COVID-19). The store was supposed to open at 9 AM, but the clock kept ticking and its doors remained shut. I heard people complaining and I walked over to the security guard to ask why it is was taking so long. He responded: “the warehouse person still hasn’t come.” People soon began to protest, as you would expect.
People had been standing in line since very early in the morning. It rained at times, and there was nowhere to take shelter. We were like stray dogs waiting for a bone.
The restlessness of already 300 uneasy people was too much. Everyone said the same thing: “this is why we’re in the boat we’re in”. How can it be that only one person has the key to store? How can this person not come to work on time to sell the merchandise that people are desperate for?
When the guy arrived, they began to weigh the chicken so they could then sell it. The store opened at nearly 11 AM, and I was finally able to buy a 5 lb. packet of chicken legs at almost 1 PM.
Situations like this are commonplace in our country. Values have been lost. Discipline and a sense of duty have been destroyed. There will never be any progress if we act in this way. This is why we are and will continue to be stuck where we are right now.