What Are Telephones For?

Paula Henriquez

HAVANA TIMES — Have you ever tried to track down some kind of product, house appliance, disposable diapers, medicine, etc. using the phone in Cuba?

Have you ever had to call a pharmacy to track down some kind of medicine? If you haven’t done this yet, then you don’t know what life is, or so says a popular comedian on Cuban TV.

It turns out that we’ve been trying to track something and shop clerks just aren’t answering the phone. You begin to think that there isn’t anybody there right then, but you try again, not even 10 minutes later, and the line is busy. You hang up and dial again and… continuous ringing again, no answer.

The same thing happens at pharmacies. The same thing also happens at Industrial Craft Markets (MAI: markets where Cubans can buy products in regular pesos). And when you get tired of ringing and ringing… you decide to go there, that is if it’s nearby, to see if they have what you need. Of course, we don’t always find what we’re looking for, that is to say, we end up going to the place just for fun, like we normally say.

My family and I found ourselves doing just that a few days ago (like many others do)… Everybody told us not to go there and to look for the telephone number instead, but that’s not the problem, the problem is nobody answers…

With so many poorly filled positions in some State workplaces… yes, because there are certain places which have senseless job positions, while other workplaces are in need of them, like for example, receptionists… who can be very helpful in these cases. Because what really shouldn’t happen is that the public tries to track down products by calling and can’t get through for this or that reason; I will leave out any adjectives.

And you keep on asking yourself: where are they? Aren’t they bothered by that phone ringing non-stop? And what if the call was coming from somewhere important, like for example, the operations center, the ministry, etc.? And what if it was a relative? Ah, of course, mobile phones are there for those cases…

I hope that this short article catches people’s attention… especially those who play deaf when a phone is ringing right next to them.

Paula Henriquez

Paula Henriquez: Since childhood I have been told I should be careful what I say in public. “Think before you speak, especially in front of others,” my mother would say, and it was more of a plea than a scolding. Even today I hear her and I obey her, just that I do not speak, I write. Letters and words are my escape, my exit and daily catharsis, which printed on paper, revive me. And this picture is my refuge.

  • Moses Patterson

    In a free, capitalist society, customer service, both in person and over the telephone are critical to the survival of the business. In Castro’s Cuba, when profits are of little import, ignoring phone calls are a quiet protest against the regime.

    • Eden Wong

      “… ignoring phone calls are a quiet protest against the regime…”

      Nope. Don’t pretend it’s some kind of political statement. Nothing could be further from the truth.

      You don’t get paid dick… then you don’t perform… period. The Island is buried under people like this. Politics is utterly immaterial.

      • Moses Patterson

        Wrong. You make my point. Cubans have a saying: “the government pretends to pay us a salary and we pretend to work.”

        • Eden Wong

          Nope, I didn’t make your point at all.

          You’re trying to pretend that not answering a phone is some kind of secret protest against the government. It’s nothing that complicated, it’s simple laziness and poor wages and boredom and a sense of entitlement.

          Not everything is about the government. Sometimes it’s just people being people.

          • Moses Patterson

            Let’s agree to disagree