There’s a man in the southern region of Andalusia, the place where all the flamenco dancing goes on, so they say, who is looting from the supermarkets…in broad daylight…and while they are still open. He and some friends burst in, grab a shopping cart, full it up to the brim and walk out with it without paying a dime. Mostly staples, mind you, but food all the same. Then he takes it over to the local soup kitchen and stocks their pantries so that they can go on providing for the ultra poor. Andalusiahas always been an area where people have struggled to get by, as well as have managed heavily on state funds. Naturally, in these days of crisis, they are having an especially tough go of it. Now we have a modern-day Robin Hood. A kind of contemporary run on the Bastille. People are sick and tired. There is only one minor detail: the perpetrator is a member of the Andalusian parliament and mayor of his hometown. My question is, what is this guy still doing loose? If I had tried the same thing, no matter how good my intentions were, I guarantee I wouldn’t get the same kind of treatment, regardless of the fact I am a vigilant of the city.
It’s clear he did it to get attention, to call attention to the dire situation of many people in the region; it’s clear that he did it to call attention, to get attention rather so that everyone knew who had the balls to do it. Now everyone is talking about him, even in the international press. Maybe his actions will spread. These things sometimes catch on. But there are fiestas on the way. And people want to enjoy6 themselves and not worry.
The thing is, this man has a political post, actually two (I don’t know how that is possible), and he is flagrantly violating the law, and in a sense encouraging others to do the same. It’s an act of populism all the way. A bit childish too. Surely he’ll do more damage than good for his cause. I wonder if he too has a perfect place to commit suicide. I would like to write him a letter with just the following:
I do. Do you?
I didn’t end up going back to the fiestas of San Lorenzo. They can stick it. It’s Tuesday. I am still on watch. Everything seems under control. Instead, I went with some friends to the Noviciado section of town to a bar where they were bidding farewell to a friend, a countryman, who was returning to the States after having lived here in Madrid for God only knows how many years. Among his contributions to this country was to hold a special event every Tuesday night to drink at special prices, just to make Tuesday special in that way. They introduced me to him. He had puffy cheeks. His shirt looked a little too big for him. We said hello. Then we said goodbye. Forever.
We went to a new restaurant. The place was famous because, some thirty years ago, someone got shot and killed. They got rubbed out. It was drug-related. I guess he could say he was lucky that he never had to live through this crisis anymore. Depending.
The owner of the place showed the basement, the downstairs where it all happened. It was a beautiful place. It was all walled with bricks, had towering arches near the windows, and high ceilings. Almost like a church or a chapel or a basilica. He pointed to a corner listlessly. “They say this is where they shot the guy.”
I nodded silently. “Where’s the bathroom?” I asked.
“This way. Follow me. I need to go too.”
Back upstairs, there was this elderly couple who was sitting next to us on high stools. They were the owners of the café next door. They had closed up for the night and come over for a nightcap. The man was cheerful, talkative and he still liked to make innocent passes at the young women. His wife was quieter and had resigned herself to accepting the man the way he was. I think it was part of their routine. Finally she said she was tired and said it was time to go. She tugged him by the arm and spoke firmly but with that touch of endearment that made it sound that she really wasn’t mad. At least that day.
He rose and they headed for the door. He turned around before the left and sang a song to us in his still strong voice:
I love you all
More than my life
More than my death
More than the air I breathe;
I love you all
Night. More crisis tomorrow.