A Ride on the P Line
Solidarity is a term which is commonly used to describe the Cuban people. However, that perception is lost when you climb aboard a public transport bus. Yes, a Metrobus from P-1 to P-16, including the P-C. One does not have to be a deep observer to notice that sensitivity and manners have been lost.
The first thing you’ll notice is an overwhelming mass of people trying to get on or off the bus without paying attention to the pregnant or the elderly. A man looks through the window to the opposite side of the street in order to avoid making eye contact with a woman who is standing next to him with a child in her arms.
A father tells his adolescent son to hurry and sit down in a vacant seat where an old lady is about to sit. Someone gets bothered when a handicapped person asks if they would be so kind to give up their seat.
The driver accelerates while taking a curve as if he were transporting livestock. This causes an argument among the passengers because someone did not hold on well enough and fell on top of someone else. Fights also usually arise as result of someone stepping on someone else’s toes, or pushing.
Sometimes the driver intervenes in these fights. Often, the bus stops away from the bus stop. Beastly blows above the doors is the immediate response. Other times there are even challenges, between aggressive behavior and actual threats of a fist fight.
On the P line, as these new mass transit buses are called, you must carefully guard your wallets, bags, chains, wristbands, or watches. It is very probable that you will not even notice if you lose them.
If you are a woman and find yourself in the middle of this tumult, make sure you don’t get bothered if you feel the touch of “something.” The situation is bad, they will quickly tell you to go take a taxi. In sum, a ride aboard the P line is just like watching a Saturday movie: adult language, violence, and sex.
But be careful! Don’t make any snap judgments. It is logical that, pretending or truthfully, a profound sleep will overcome you after waking up at 6 in the morning. Making the trip of an hour while standing the whole way and all cramped up among so many people, or even having to take various “P’s” just to make it to work.
You get frustrated when they step on a callous on your foot, while you are thinking that you have nothing to cook at home, or if there is no soap to shower. It really puts you in a bad mood, knowing that you do not have enough money to replace your child’s broken shoes so he could go to school.
The sea of problems that Cubans confront in their daily lives slowly leads them to a state of decadence. It is an irony that citizens of this country, which does more for the poor of the world, a country free of illiteracy, must itself return to barbarism. It’s like going from the sublime to the ridiculous.
Translated by Raul G with a little tinkering by ricote and Hank