Catching the P-11 Bus: My Daily NightmareMay 23, 2014 | Print |
Kabir Vega Castellanos
HAVANA TIMES — In order to travel from Alamar to Vedado and attend my English class, I am forced to go through a diabolical daily routine I have already given a name to: “the battle over the P-11 bus.”
The line of people waiting at the bus stop is overwhelmingly long, and when the much-awaited vehicle arrives, those at the back step to the side in a barefaced attempt to cut in line. People can no longer accurately complain about young people. Unfortunately, they have to complain about the Cuban people as a whole.
Everyone wrestles to get inside the bus: from corpulent men to frail old people to the physically challenged (who fight for a seat, even though these are already designated to them).
Most of the time the driver, not in the mood to deal with the rowdy crowd, shuts the door and drives off with a bundle of people holding on to the outside of the bus. Those left behind protest in vain. The line has been broken irreparably, and, when the next bus arrives, the struggle to get inside will be an even worse with everyone looking after themselves.
When the line of people waiting at the stop reserved for seated passengers is so disastrous, the bus will often arrive at the stop for standing passengers already full. This completely defeats the purpose of a stop originally designed for those who are in a hurry and are unwilling to wait for an empty bus. As a result of this, people often don’t even know where it is best to wait for the bus.
In an attempt to improve this situation some, the government has placed inspectors at bus stops, but there aren’t enough of them to contain the chaos. At rush hour (which begins at around three in the afternoon), people are crazy to get home. Even inside the bus, they are worried they will miss their stop and they shove and mistreat others to get to the door.
On one occasion, I was on a bus with my parents and, when we reached the door to get off, a woman standing behind us began to shove my mother in order to get off before her. My mother said to her: “Don’t worry, we’re also getting off.” She insisted and kept on pushing so forcefully that my mother asked her: “Lady, why do you need to get off before I do?” The woman replied, almost yelling: “The thing is, I’ve just had an operation.”
You have to see it to believe it. I’ve seen elderly people with walking sticks who start walking normally once they get inside the bus.
I go to my English class Monday to Friday, so I have to go through the P-11 battle ten times a week. I’ve witnessed at least six commotions and fights over people trying to cut in line, where disrespect is the least serious phenomenon.
Sadly, I am getting used to it.