Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Earning At Most $20 A Month, Cuban Office Workers Spend Their Days Playing Solitaire

Yoani Sanchez - Award-Winning Cuban Blogger

Earning At Most $20 A Month, Cuban Office Workers Spend Their Days
Playing Solitaire
Posted: 10/11/11 07:25 AM ET

- Just a minute, ma'am, I'm almost done with this row.
- Can someone shut that kid up? It's making me lose my concentration and
I can't find the damned ace of clubs I need to finish this round.
- There goes the phone again, but I'm just about to break my own record
so I wouldn't even dream of answering it.
- Niurka! Come over here, girl. Look how many points I have! I think I'm
the best solitaire player in this company.

If someone did a statistical study of the most-used applications on the
computers in state offices, neither Word nor Excel, much less Access,
would appear at the top of the list. The big winner of this survey would
be the famous card game known as Solitaire. Our bureaucrats are bored
and they relieve their tedium putting aces, hearts and diamonds in
order. We don't know if they spend so much time on this entertainment
because they have so little to do, or if, in reality, it is the low
salaries that lead to turning their workday into a tremendous waste of
time. How many times have we waited in front of a secretary -- clicking
away while staring raptly at the screen as if we weren't even there --
to come to realize that instead of filling out forms or transcribing
letters, she's stacking cards one atop another on a deep green digital

While receptionists and employees perfect their card skills, we -- the
clients overwhelmed by some paperwork -- find our patience tested. They
accumulate rows with a red king here and a black queen there while, in
the uncomfortable seats of a civil registry or notary office, the hours
pass for those who need an answer or a document. Sometimes another
office worker comes in and dozens of looks try to tell her: we've been
waiting since eight o'clock, we still haven't had lunch, please... help
us. But without raising her gaze beyond her desk, the recent arrival
suggests her colleague should move that seven of spades because
otherwise the game will be lost. But when closing time comes and they
tell us, "You'll have to come back tomorrow," we feel like the ferocious
monarch marked by the letter K, and would like to grab his royal sword
from the screen that has stolen the day from us.


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