HAVANA TIMES, August 4 — I’m on the bus again. It’s five-thirty in the afternoon, and all that people want to do is get home. So do I. Bus stops are beginning to seem like they were in the nineties crisis. Two years ago, when new buses and routes appeared, we thought our problems with public transportation were gone. Now, reality has proven us wrong.
Today I caught the bus at the first bus stop, so I’m standing in an almost comfortable spot, without disturbing anyone and without being disturbed. I know it won’t last, but for a while I can look around and feel like a spectator watching a movie.
Like in a movie
There is a middle-aged woman standing close to the door and a middle-aged man standing behind her. As we get to the second bus stop, people almost assault the bus and come close to killing each other to get on. The middle-aged man is now crushed against the middle-aged woman and soaking her with his sweat. It’s inevitable and they both know it.
They’ve gotten used to it, as we all have. He is being crushed by someone else, who in turn is being crushed by another person, and so on. Instead of complaining, the woman looks at the man with sympathy and resignation. The man apologizes and offers her his hand towel to wipe some of the sweat off.
They are both tired. They have taken buses their whole lives and none of this is new to them. The woman says she now has to continue working at home. She has to cook for herself and her son, who gets home later. The man has to cook too, but only for himself. They are both divorced. She has a son. He is childless.
They catch the bus at the same stop every day, at the same time, but they had never spoken. And today, they wouldn’t have either if the bus hadn’t been so crowded, forcing them to stand pressed against each other.
They are usually pinned against people who complain all the time without trying to understand the situation. Today, despite the unbearable heat and his elbow in her ribs, they both smile. They would have talked even longer had the driver not been driving so fast, as people inside screamed out of fear for their lives.
The woman says that fortunately she’s getting off on the next stop, but that she will catch the bus again at the same time tomorrow. The driver doesn’t stop at the official bus stop, but five blocks after it, so she’ll have to walk five blocks back with her bag.
Nonetheless she smiles. This is just the usual same old thing. She gets off and waves to the man. He does the same.
Yes, this would have been a nice story. It’s a pity it only happened that way in my mind.
Now, here’s what really happened:
The middle-aged man wanted to walk to the back of the bus, but the lady was standing in the way, just in front of the door. The man asked her to move, but she said she couldn’t because she was getting off at the next stop. The bus stopped five blocks before the stop, but she didn’t budge.
She argued that this was not the designated bus stop and that the driver had to stop at the official one. The man told her the driver wouldn’t stop there and therefore it would be better if she got off and let people move, she was in the way. She insisted that the driver had to stop at the official bus stop (and she had a point).
But it was the man who was right in the end, because the driver stopped five blocks after the official stop. When the woman could finally get off (now she would have to walk all the way back), the man yelled at her: “Stupid bitch. Now you have to walk anyway, you fat cow.”
The woman hollered back, “You need to go wash your stupid funky ass.” The bus drove on. I could only feel sad about the woman, about the man, about us all, because we’ve gotten used to this. The best way to solve problems is by insulting each other, and we even enjoy it. End of story.