In Cuba a “funny car” is a modern car, and if its license plate has the magic letters “HK” identifying the car as belonging to a foreigner or a foreign firm, this leads one to the conclusion that whoever drives it, “drives.” Helga works for a foreign firm in Cuba and has a hilarious car — several weeks ago, while she was going up the steep hill on Paseo street — she was stopped for speeding by a “caballito” as motorcycle cops are called in Cuba. Helga tried to sweet talk her way out of a ticket:
“Oh, Sweetheart!” I just want to be on time for my meeting at the Ministry of Agriculture — look, I couldn’t have been driving that fast since I am going uphill and this is a huge car.”
“Well, toss me a salve”
“What is that?
“A salve, a nun”*
“You mean money?”
By that time, Helga was upset, she was going to be late for her meeting and a traffic cop had just asked her for bribe. Parked in front of them was a police captain, who had no doubt noticed Helga’s gestures.
The “caballito” threatens to accuse Helga of attempted bribery, Helga does not let herself be intimidated, so she is forced to accompany the cops to the police station at Zapata and C streets. After a long delay, during which they didn’t even let her smoke a cigarette, she was allowed to make a phone call. No one answered the phone at the Ministry of Agriculture, so she called a friend who was a senior official of the PNR** and he didn’t take long to get there.
When Helga was alone with her friend, she didn’t let him say anything, she knew from his expression that they had prejudiced him against her.
“I recorded everything on my cell phone.” She said.
The friend dropped his prejudice, but now he was worried for a different reason:
“Look Helga, this is going to be settled, and you are going to get out of this without even having to pay a fine, but if you bring up the recording, forget about driving in peace ever again, because they will know who you are.”
Go and rest, OK?
And Helga rested.
Like in the movies, I have changed names and circumstances.
* In the “Charade,” which is a popular lottery in Cuba, a “nun” means the number 5.
** PNR: National Revolutionary Police.