On Thursday a man from the gas company knocked on my door and told me that he was going to change the meter and that I had to give him my last payment receipt. After an hour of turning the house upside down I had to give up: I’ve lost it. I go down and tell him:
- Look, I’m sorry, I don’t have the receipt. - Then I can’t change the meter. - No problem, don’t change it. - I have to change it. - ?...!
The sad thing is he decided to change it and while he was trying to do that he ended up breaking my deteriorating pipe. He didn’t take the trouble to climb the stairs and tell me because his team is not the “repairers” only the “changers” nor did he try to clean up the mess. He cut off my service, reported my rupture to the company, who later reported it to the office of I don’t know what, who then sent a “repairer” team… in less than 24 hours (this last is the science fiction part).
Friday afternoon, after 24 hours of doing without fire, and everyone knows what that has represented in the long life of homo sapiens, and terrorized by the terrible coming of the weekend, I went out to “resolve” the problem with a private contractor. What happened was the nice gentleman from the company had not broken just any pipe: 4 meters and 20 cm of a ¾ inch galvanized zinc pipe that’s not found “even in the spiritual centers.”
One of my most supportive and good neighbors, so good that he still believes in the Perfected Social Enterprise, spent the day giving me reports about the gas company, whom he called for two consecutive days. I suppose that at some point he told the laconic receptionist, politely, to go to hell, she invariably answered: That is already taken care of, for more information call XXX (where no one ever answered).
On Saturday afternoon we took the project in hand. We reconstructed the pipe with one we found on the roof, connected what was left of my pipe directly to the street and, after tremendous anguish, I made coffee. I’m still waiting for them to connect the meter.
This is an excerpt to a version of the song, Epitaph for Vladimir Visotski by Karsmarski Jacek (Polish dissident songwriter), which includes Ciro Diaz in his latest album, The Blue Slug, that I listened to compulsively for at least two months, especially on the street with my mp3 inherited from a friend who now has an I-pod. (Download the lyrics here) (Download the recording and album cover here) The song (in summary, which runs about ten minutes) is about a desperate artist going through the circles of hell in search of an answer or death, and at the end of his journey there is only loneliness and the weight of the supreme power above himself. So I found myself at times catching the bus across Havana at 12 noon in August under the perennial sunshine and with the distressing feeling of not going anywhere, or arriving too late, or going for pleasure ... I feel that I have already arrived at the eighth enclosure (this is the finale of the song) where there is nothing, and I feel useless and empty, and I look at people without faith who walk along the street and who have so much fear that they no longer know they're afraid, and who have seen so many Roundtables and so many news broadcasts that they no longer know what belongs to reality or just to the TV screen. They cannot discern that they no longer believe, but cannot disbelieve either, and just move along past me not going anywhere.