My Wage Is Enough…

Yenisel Rodriguez

Coffee for sale.

A friend admitted to me that his wages are now enough for him to buy things he hadn’t been able to before.  It was a sincere confession, and though he really doesn’t earn that much, it was true that he could purchase things that someone who making a worker’s wage isn’t used to having.

Now divorced and with his family in another province, he was in a position to plan his own personal budget for the first time in his life.  He’s always been the systematic type, almost to the point of looking foolish, but this time he came out OK.

Astonished, he told me that though he had been alone for five months, he had continued with a diet that lacked vegetables and fruit.  Out of plain inertia he had lived within the limitations of the past, when his wage barely provided enough for four people to live on.  But then he did the math and decided to go to the farmers market (the most expensive one in Cuba, though it’s not exactly the campesinos’ fault).  This was something he would have never dreamed of earlier.

With all his calculations done and a list in hand, he headed out in search of cucumbers and guavas.  A week after his excursion, he explained to me that a pound of cucumbers lasts him several days, and that a pound and a half of guavas was enough for him to have a daily glass of juice for breakfast.  Some indispensable items still remained beyond his reach, but that didn’t prevent me from understanding my optimistic friend’s confession.

After he left, I began to wonder if circumstances so conditioned by the struggle for basic necessities might also harbor immobilism and a lack of creativity.  But I didn’t continue with that idea; I was walking too close to the slippery slope.

Despite everything I prepared to imitate my friend, as if somehow I too lived alone. I was going to put to the test his theory that some things could change by systematizing one’s budget.

Surprise!  I found out that I too could drink guava juice almost every morning.  Previously I had spent that money on sodas and re-heated croquettes while complaining, “My God, when will I be able to drink a glass of rich guava juice, even if it’s watered down.”

Because now you can see: I not only enjoy the juice, but I even have enough to make it thick.

Yenisel Rodriguez

Yenisel Rodriguez Perez: I have lived in Cuba my entire life, except for several months in 2013 when I was in Miami with my father. Despite the 90 miles that separate Havana and Miami, I find profound reasons in both for political and community activism. My encounter with socio-cultural anthropology eight years ago prepared me for a commitment of love for cultural diversity.



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