Change in Mentality / Yoani Sánchez

They came with their trucks, a grader and even a new machine for recycling asphalt. They worked all morning before the astonished eyes of neighbors who, for over twenty years, have seen their street deteriorate without repair. For the most skeptical, there was also a dash of hope with the pavement was as smooth as glass, and then another brigade appeared. This itself was unprecedented. Instead of leaving the manhole covers below the tar–as in the past–the new group of workers dismantled them and placed them even with the ground. No one could believe what was happening. This “new mentality” some said, boasting of the already noted changes in the way things are done, was palpable.

To warn motorists of the fresh cement bordering the storm drains, they left a pile of rubble around them. “You’ll see, they’ll come back to remove it,” said the optimists. But there it stays. The passage of tires was spreading the stones all over the street, pressing them into the still-soft asphalt. The remains of the reconstruction were collecting in the grating of the drains, accumulating in the gutters. Two weeks later they were still spreading their dusty presence, and creating mounds here and holes there, spoiling the finish. “Ahh, this mentality!” the dreamers corrected themselves, immediately adding, “Instead of changing how they do things they dress it up, but it’s the same mentality as ever.”

15 June 2011