Feeling Violated

Yusimi Rodriguez

Havana articulated bus. photo: Caridad

HAVANA TIMES, March 12 — After waiting for the bus for almost half an hour, I saw it coming and prayed it would stop.  On a typical day I’d be ready to run to catch it, but today I was carrying my umbrella and two heavy bags that I had lugged for more than fifteen blocks.

Apparently God heard me and the bus stopped, but it was so full that the driver directed people to pay a man standing in the first door and to then go get on in the second and third rear doors.  I knew I’d have to get on this bus, because it was almost rush hour and it would be worse later.

With people pushing me from behind, suddenly I was on the bus and pressed against a sweaty man, in fact my entire body was against his.  There was no space to move and my hands were full, plus I couldn’t ask the man to move aside because he didn’t have any room either, and it was I who was standing pressed against him.

That’s when I should have felt violated, but actually I didn’t – in fact I was thankful that at least I was on the bus while other people were left behind standing on the sidewalk watching the bus pull out.  They remained wondering when the next one would come, if it would stop and how full it would be.

Then I heard a man screaming because the bus door had caught his foot and was crushing it. He seemed to be in real pain and about to start crying.  So yes, you’re lucky that you’re only feeling a little bit violated.

The bus approached the next stop, but didn’t stop; there was no more room for the people waiting there.  I was almost glad it didn’t stop.  I didn’t have time to feel sorry for the people waiting there, though I felt sad that I didn’t feel sorry for them.

Well, perhaps then I realized I should have felt like I was being violated; but what you notice is that you’ve become insensitive or just used to the feeling of being outraged.

It’s the same when you go to the market and have to pay a right arm for a pound of vegetables and a little food. Every time you check the weight of what you’ve bought on a different scale, you discover you’ve been had.  All you can do is complain to the salesclerk, who will give back your money or the short-changed food.  In any case, it will be the same thing the next day, with that same salesclerk or any other one.

When you go to State-owned stores, you see all the things you can’t afford on your salary – the same salary paid by the same State that owns the store.  Oh yes, the feeling of being outraged is not so new.

So, trapped standing against a greasy sweaty man, on a bus, breathing the same air and sweat of a man who —to top it off— might even be even enjoying the situation, is actually not so serious.