The lines lines lines. You love those lines, you shove them straight—straight to my face.
The societal and cultural damage that Venezuela has suffered through the past twenty years is almost irreparable. With every new trial and tribulation we’ve lost a bit of whatever normalcy we have left; we’ve adapted to each new shortage, each new regulation, and each new limitation to the best of our abilities until it all becomes routine, forgetting the fact that things weren’t this bad before while at it.
Queues, and waiting in line for absurd amounts of time in order to obtain that which shouldn’t be difficult to procure is not just part of our daily lives—it is now part of our culture; a byproduct of the calamities wrought upon to us by this Bolivarian Socialism of the XXI Century.
Supermarkets, pharmacies, grocery stores, bakeries, battery places, gasoline, water, liquor shops, ATMs; if there’s been a shortage of it then you can safely bet that there has been countless large lines for it over the past decade or so—and we sure have plenty of shortages to spare.
With the exception of the infamous “Bachaqueros”, Venezuelans have done these lines out of necessity or that of their families, friends, and loved ones. While they aren’t as extreme as they were in recent years (in the case of Caracas at least), they’ve become rather ingrained with our day to day affairs, we can no longer stand in awe and be outraged at the sight of them—it’s all just a cultural part of the new Venezuelan status quo, in the same vein as blackouts and water shortages.
Places will often see periods of relatively calm, which are followed by a sudden surge in customers once they have some highly desired items for sale. Taking one of the closest bakeries from where I live as an example, most of the time it’s nearly empty, as nearly empty as their display counters are these days.
Then, at around 01:00pm they put up their daily limited amount of bread for sale; everyone in the area has grown accustomed to this schedule, so that’s when their premises are flooded with people seeking to buy some of that hot stuff. Once the bread is all sold out then back to that calm until the next day.
The easing and removal of some of the restrictions that were implemented over the past years have greatly helped alleviate these queues, such as the flexibilization of price controls and the removal of purchase amount limits. In many cases the problem has now shifted from a lack of availability of said products to a lack of purchase power, courtesy of our beyond worthless currency.
Gasoline is a special case and once again, a major woe for many. You’d think that it would be the one thing we could possibly never face a shortage of, after all, gasoline is essentially free in this country and is the only thing we produce these days—wrong.
As if it wasn’t enough with the severe power blackouts and water woes, the country is going through a severe gasoline shortage despite what the Regime otherwise states. The situation has rapidly reached a point where in some states you can only refuel on specific days; some states have even limited the amount of (basically free) gasoline you can fill your car’s tank with.
Unlike in other countries where you can find people gladly waiting in line for hours just to get their hands on the latest smartphones, here you’ll now find people waiting in line for days just to refuel their often worn out vehicles.
It might sound bizarre and outlandish, but people have actually died waiting four days in line for gas—at the risk of sounding like I’m making a joke at the expense of a man’s death, I hope that he didn’t had to wait in line for long to be attended by Saint Peter at the gates of Heaven.
Military presence on gas stations isn’t something new, however, it has now been officially implemented in certain states. The situation isn’t nowhere near as extreme in Caracas when compared to other states because it is in the regime’s best interests to keep the capital afloat no matter the cost, even if it means sacrificing the rest of the country’s well-being, logistics, and infrastructure.
Personally, I’m beyond exhausted of lines and queues, fully aware that they’re much worse outside of Caracas. Last week I had to spend a few hours in line to get a car battery replacement—right on time to exceed my projected queue quota for the month of May 2019.
Time is precious an certainly more valuable than the Bolivar. If one thing I’ve learned over almost a decade of queues and lines is that you have to become quite good at avoiding them whenever possible to save time, and to suck it up and do them when they’re unavoidable.
I’m one document away from finally being able to start a new life. One single item that can and will change everything for the better, one that’s not exempt from queues, lines, and wait times, that’s how it goes.
One thing’s for sure, the eventual line to board the plane—that’s one I’ll gladly do with a smile.