The Elevator and the Wheelchair

The other day in the hospital, after waiting fifteen minutes for an elevator to take my husband to the medical offices on the top floor of the building, a man who was pushing someone I assume was his mother in a wheelchair, was prevented from getting on the elevator although there was ample space, because no wheelchairs are permitted.

We got onto the elevator when it was on its way up and the elevator operator called on the phone so that the person in the wheelchair could be picked up, but the “specialized” elevator was detained on another floor waiting for another patient. On the way down, the elevator stopped once more on the floor where we had been and the “solution” was to stand the patient up and to fold the wheelchair — everything being done as a favor and with the operator’s explanation that she could be reprimanded.

My husband got excited because the reason for a hospital is to care for the infirm and the lady had been waiting for nearly half an hour; he surmised that if the conditions which led to a given policy changed, then the policy also had to change. I was giving him discreet signs — touching him with my foot and jabbing him with my elbow.

The gentleman pushing the his mother’s wheelchair excused the operator, who had left them stranded, and effusively thanked her for agreeing to transport them. The submissiveness of accepting any measure is not merely something of hospitals, but a national syndrome.

Translated by: Maria Montoto

July 14 2012

Repudiation Against Acts of Repudiation

The year was 1993, my son was about to be born and I was given a weekend leave from the hospital. Upon my arrival at home, my husband was absent. He arrived very upset from the home of his son from a prior marriage. An act of repudiation had been made against the child’s mother and her spouse. They closed off the street, installed loudspeakers, brought in a mob that vociferated for hours without knowing for what nor against whom.

The couple had been battling for months to travel abroad, but would not accept the definitive exit that authorities wanted to impose. My husband’s son, then an adolescent student of painting, had decided to stay with us. After that demonstration of “revolutionary fervor”, the youth no longer wanted to live in a country where such things happen. A long time afterward, he continued having the recurring dream that the mob would demolish the door to his home and would squash them.

My son was born within a few days, and his brother left into exile three months later. They never had the opportunity of knowing each, of even recognizing one another, since they have a great physical likeness.

So to the ethical reasons, I add this very personal reason for championing a repudiation against acts of repudiation, so that nevermore any government will be in a position of confronting its citizens ones against the others.

Translated by: Maria Montoto

June 1 2012

National Thermometer

Photo: OLPL

The relationship of Cubans with public transportation is intense. The interaction is produced on various levels: between the public and the driver, amongst the public themselves, and between the public and the bus. This interaction is determined by the frequency between one bus and the next; and at this time that frequency has once again become, as it almost always has been for many years now, low. The irritation and annoyance with transportation that is delayed and packed determine the violence with which “the factors” react. Now on television they chide the public for the mistreatment of the buses and for the quantity and quality of the collection made as a conception of payment. In that type of reports there is no mention of “our working people”, as if those chided didn’t form part of those same people of the official demagoguery.

So if the public decides not to pay, or prefers to hand their fare directly to the driver, or refuses to pay $1.00 CUP (Cuban Peso = national currency) for a service that costs 40 cents and tears a bill in half to approximate the price, or bangs without mercy on the back door of the bus when the driver misses a stop, or points out somewhat cryptic responsibilities but in a loud voice; I don’t know what sociologists see (especially if those sociologists don’t travel on public transportation), but I see a reaction to accumulated frustrations, and not just with the subject of public transport.

Translated by: Maria Montoto

May 29 2012