A character with a fat neck and briefcase in hand appears every Wednesday in the humorous “Let me tell you,” in same space where Professor Chicken Mind, already described in this Blog, releases his platitudes of dilettante wisdom. Incompetent Lindoro is the director of an inefficient company and has a car registered to the State that he never uses for the benefit of the workers. Impeccably dressed, he sidles up to his subordinates and warns them ironically, “As for me, it pleases me to please.” His extra pounds and his elegant dark blue suit contrast with his slovenly demeanor and the unproductivity of everything in the “Bartolete Pérez” workshop.
This prototypical boss flaunts a phrase that has managed to insert itself into the popular vocabulary, precisely the epithet with which he refers to the inefficient, apathetic and poorly paid group of household appliance repairers that he directs. With his Colgate smile and while announcing some urgent task or a new bureaucratic absurdity, he asks the question, “How is this valiant collective?” Incompetent Lindoro is not a caricature of a boss, but rather the sum of many of them, the portrait in humorous tones of those who have a little power.
These days he frequently evokes the chubby company director and his triumphalist language. In the midst of a flu caused by rain pouring in through the windows of my house, I listened on my little dynamo radio to many Incompetent Lindoros. They spoke precisely of a “valiant collective,” where I only see desperate faces. They called for calm and resistance, from their fat necks from their dry cars. Some, the most powerful, without personally going to the disaster sites, attempted through a telephone line to make promises as hollow and empty as those of this satirical character.
Our Incompetent Lindoros don’t want to recognize that the emergency situation created by Gustav and Ike is not only the fault of the strong winds and rains, but rather of the disasters of production and housing that had already dragged this Island down. Today, in the morning, after two hours in line I was able buy four pounds of sweet potatoes and a piece of fruta bomba* without seeing in the line a single specimen of a director. For pork, we must take turns in the early morning. In the stores that take convertible pesos* the empty refrigerators stink of chicken and meat that was ruined. The food situation could not be worse and although my house endured the winds and in my area there is no great devastation, the only thing people ask about is food. Rising fuel prices already caused the private taxi drivers to double their fares; for a trip that used to cost ten pesos we now pay twenty. But the TV doesn’t see that side of the crisis, but rather a people strong and “valiant” declaring their votes of confidence and expressing hope in front of the cameras.
What will Incompetent Lindor do when the slogans shouted today in front of journalists turn into expressions of discontent and protest? Will they hide themselves then–with a stash of food–inside their briefcases?
Fruta bomba is the Cuban word for papaya. In Cuba ‘papaya’ is an exceedingly rude word relating to female body parts. If you are in Cuba and would like a papaya, you are advised to ask for “fruta bomba.”