My fellow employees at the bank were rapidly becoming a nuisance. They expected me to solve their petty individual problems: change vacation time, secure a transfer to a more convenient location, argue for a raise or promotion—all problems I had no interest in, and which I would delegate to my second in command, Feliciano. Feliciano, “the happy one,” was one of those rare beings whose names are literal descriptions of their dispositions. He was permanently in good humor, always smiling and willing to listen, forever prepared to forgo office work for a “union” coffee break, and more than happy to liberate me from the petty duties I found boring and a waste of time. In the permanently tumultuous and accelerated processes of my brain I had other goals; I wanted to overthrow the union leadership and turn the Bank Employees Workers Union into an antigovernment force, make it into an effective tool in the fight against Batista’s tyranny. So I could, with the good conscience that self-righteousness grants, use the union job in pursuit of my own goals, for purposes of high politics; and I felt neither remorse nor discomfort over my lack of interest in the day-to-day welfare of my coworkers.
After being elected union steward I was transferred to the bank’s transit department, where work was done in two shifts, one beginning at 7 : 00 A.M. and the other at 1 : 00 P.M., allowing me some free time during the day. The department was known as the “hole,” and it was a large and windowless rectangular room slightly below ground level at the very end of the bank’s office space. The room held some ugly big black contrivances for sorting checks, which for some reason were called tamboras, bass drums, and four large tables with neon lights and adding machines all over them, and those who worked there seemed to have little in common, in appearance and demeanor, with anyone else in the bank.