Would you get paid to act as a third passenger in a vehicle so the car could drive into a congestion-restricted area? How about signing up to pack people into crowded train cars? Dress up as a zebra and walk the streets, preventing cars from running red lights?
These are actual gigs which you could be paid money for in Jakarta, Tokyo and La Paz, according to an interesting discussion up on Quora asking people to contribute descriptions of jobs that are endemic to a certain country. So many of them had to do with cars, bikes and trains that I pulled a list of the best transportation-related ones.
From the vehicles we drive to the type of transit we ride, transportation is in and of itself very culturally specific. Then there are the “unofficial” transportation customs, like not queuing up properly at bus stops, honking in traffic, jaywalking, or biking on footpaths, that are tolerated in some places and forbidden in others. These jobs paint an incredible picture of the challenges — and clever workarounds — people face in different cities when it comes to getting from A to B.
Licence plate obscurer, Tehran
Congestion restrictions in Tehran meant to curb air pollution dictate that cars with only odd or even licence plate numbers can enter the city’s downtown on certain days. But don’t worry, you can pay someone to walk behind your car and block your licence plate from the cameras that enforce the regulation.
Extra passenger, Jakarta
Similarly, in Jakarta, you can hire a person to ride in your car with you so you can have access to certain “3-in-1” zones which require three passengers to be in the car at all times. These people, named “joki”, wait by the side of the road like hitchhikers.
Ticketless travel broker, Mumbai
Picture: AP/Rafiq Maqbool
People sell passengers ticketless travel “insurance” instead of train tickets in Mumbai, which apparently protect them from inspection on the city’s railways. If the insured gets caught, the insurance company pays the fine and reimburses them for the insurance. But because the rail system is so crowded and the chances of your ticket being checked is very low anyway, people are actually paying for nothing. Apparently this is common in many cities with overcrowded rail systems.
Subway pusher, Tokyo
Another crowded transit system in Tokyo has oshiya (pushers), who help push commuters into packed train cars so the doors can close behind them.
Traffic zebra, Bolivia
In Bolivia, traffic “zebras” employed by the government stand at crosswalks and reinforce rules for pedestrians. These are usually at-risk youth or former drug addicts, and yes, they dress in zebra costumes.
Picture: AP/Ben Curtis
Kenya’s privately run bus services have “seat warmers” who try to create the illusion that the bus is almost full and about to depart, encouraging passengers to hurry up and buy tickets. Apparently, Kenyans are less likely to buy tickets if it appears that a bus is not ready to leave.
Bike dredger, Amsterdam
In The Netherlands, there are so many bikes tossed into the canals by rowdy teens and drunk tourists that a specific type of barge and operator must comb the waters, extracting rusted bikes with a large claw.
Flying doctor, Australia
Australia is so large, with such a dispersed population, that many of its citizens are more than a day’s drive away from hospitals. The Royal Flying Doctor Service is a group of airborne medical experts founded in 1928 that can travel to any location.
Meter maid, Queensland
In Queensland, the meter maids wear gold bikinis, sashes and high heels as part of a program called Meter Maids Surfers Paradise. Even though the parking meters are all electronic now, they give directions and act as civic ambassadors to help everyone feel good.
Do you know of other transportation jobs — even roles in the informal economy — that are specific to certain cultures? Let us know in the comments. [Quora]
Lead picture: shabestan.ir, MeterMaids.com, AP Photo/Rafiq Maqbool