Jakarta: congestion + poverty = jockeys

A great piece by Miriam Koslay in New Mandala. For about $2 a “jockey” will ride in your car to help you beat minimum occupancy rules on congested Jakarta streets. Who takes on such a job?

A few people, like Ari, who’ve fallen through the cracks: “I don’t like being a jockey and I’m not proud of it. It’s not something I thought I was going to do, it was never planned. I used to work with my parents running a small shop outside of Jakarta, but my mother fell very sick and I had to find work.”

Also, people who made bad choices in earlier life, like Wandi: “I dropped out of junior high school and never went to university. I didn’t like school but now I wished I did something. I’m 29 and I want to complete a course so I can get a job. I don’t care what certificate or field I work in I just want to start training so I can do something for my future. Until that time I’m going to be a jockey because it’s easy to do. There’s no training, and I get paid.”

Oh, and a few day-trippers like Ronald: “I enjoy it because it’s simple and free; you go into a car and get paid… Right now I don’t really have any plans for the future, I’m just going with the flow.”

Clearly some jockeys are in this game because they ran out of choices. But this last one gets you thinking about satisficing behavior. Earning $5-$10/day by riding in other peoples’ cars may not be a great salary, but as Bob Dole once said of the U.S. vice-presidency, it’s “indoor work, no heavy lifting.” It requires no special training or investment, you can choose your own hours– and like Ronald says, just go with the flow.


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