Wednesday, August 20, 2014

On Cuba’s Public Bathrooms

On Cuba's Public Bathrooms
August 19, 2014
Osmel Almaguer

HAVANA TIMES — The waiting room of the emergency ward at Havana's Luis
Dias Soto (or Naval) Hospital has only one bathroom for both genders.
The women's bathroom has been closed up for a while now – since
February, at least – and everyone uses the men's lavatory.

The sink in this bathroom doesn't work. This, however, doesn't stop a
lady – presumably a cleaning woman – from setting up a small table next
to the entrance to charge you a Cuban peso for the service.

To be fair, this woman makes an effort to be kind and keep her workplace
clean. There is something to be said for the fact the bathroom is always
relatively clean.

After one pays to use the bathroom once, one may continue to use it free
of charge the rest of the day. Even though it's a hospital, where
patients often have very difficult situations all around, if the money
goes to keeping the bathroom clean, I can understand the small fee.

But I have my doubts about where the money collected every day ends up.
I would like to think it's used to buy cleaning products. However, I
suspect that money is already included in the budget the hospital
allocates to general janitorial work. I sometimes also think that
someone is collecting money to get the other bathroom working again, or
to install dearly needed running water in the two bathrooms. To date,
nothing of the sort has happened.

It would be unfair to conclude the woman keeps the money, for I have no
proof of this. Something tells me, however, that, if this hypothesis
were true, it would not be the worst case scenario. The money, after
all, could end up in someone else's hands, someone who doesn't even have
to work in the bathroom all day.

I know people's low incomes and needs are used to justify practically
every misdeed in the country, but wrong is wrong and we can't call it
any other way.

According to my calculations, the lady at the bathroom must collect some
50 pesos every day, for a total of 1,500 a month. That should be more
than enough to have a fully functional bathroom.

Charging people to use the bathroom has become common in the country.
It's the way some establishments have of making extra money. The problem
is that the money always ends up in the pockets of someone who doesn't
look after the bathrooms, and these are often disgustingly filthy and
without running water.

Source: On Cuba's Public Bathrooms - Havana -

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