More than twenty years of repairing the Soviet elevator and exercising on the stairs are nearing an end. Two brand new Russian elevators have just been delivered to my building to replace the obsolete socialist technology. We have had to wait until the ancient machinery exhibited an actual state of “danger to life”; for the military buildings near where I live to take priority in the replacement of elevators; and for Cuban-Russian relations to once again flourish.
I’m happy because Reinaldo won’t have to spend so much time repairing the prehistoric Armenian elevator. Thanks to those who, twenty years ago, expelled him from his profession, the residents of one hundred and forty-four apartments have enjoyed a journalist-turned-elevator-mechanic who, living on the fourteenth floor, has had a great interest in repairing the elevator. Only through the neighbors’ persistence has it been possible to extend the useful life of something that should have been replaced years ago. The solutions applied by the citizens are often displayed as “achievements of the system,” when they should be registered as desperate struggles for survival.
After a decade of cannibalizing one of the elevators to get the parts to keep the other one running, we are looking forward to the replacements. The installation will last about four months, during which I will expend many calories on the two hundred and thirty-two steps that separate me from the street. However, the intense exercise doesn’t scare me; I have climbed these fourteen floors with my bike on my shoulders, carrying a mattress and, a ton of times, with my son in my arms. Now I’ll do it with the incentive that soon we’ll have two new elevators. They won’t be Soviet, like those of such poor-quality, but rather – and here it is worth pointing out the difference – simply “Russian.”