HAVANA TIMES — Much has been said about city bus transportation and the conduct of the drivers here in the capital city, but there have been no comments about the complements and accessories they have on their jobs.
While working, Cuban bus drivers engage in what’s called the “appropriation of space,” which is normal and achieves a certain comfort level for them. In this space they display to the public what defines them: their superstitious and religious fetishes and tastes.
And why not, since these can sometimes be interpreted as their hopes and aspirations, or perhaps warnings of who they are and how far they’ll take things.
In those work spaces you can find banners full of tassels and fringes, mementos of their loved ones (including baby shoes and dolls of their children, scrunchies and hairclips), Christmas ornaments, pictures of saints to protect them on their journeys, flowers, dice, stickers and even children’s decorations filling their micro-worlds stick-ons of Lightning McQueen, Spiderman, Winnie the Pooh, Donald Duck, Mickey Mouse and others.
This appropriation of space becomes overwhelming for some commuters when it’s combined with music, with which most drivers take way too many liberties.
I say this because the decibel level is often in the red (and if it’s reggaeton, it’s enough to drive anyone nuts). And if we add to this the heat (which always exceeds the temperature outside) and the number of passengers (who are always jammed in), then what you have is torturous.
But to be fair, I should add that many of the passengers enjoy the music, because different generations take the bus at the same time. So when a driver who puts on music from the early 60’s — or boleros, salsa and even some reggaeton — you’ll always discover someone tapping their fingers or moving their shoulders – even those who are ready to start dancing among the crowd.
(Plus there are those passengers who carry their own music on MP3 players, iPods and cellphones, sharing those scratchy tunes with others, being the good fellow-travellers they are.)
So people! This is how bus drivers — while trying to make more bearable their task of transporting us daily — fill up their work spaces and uncaringly share them with us.
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