Tukang ojek, I love you too!

Posted on: August 21, 2009

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Sometimes we are too arrogant that we forget the presence of others. Such an attitude is commonly seen due to the kind of life that we have in this great city of ours, Jakarta. But when we need their help we suddenly feel glad that they are here.

It’s the same thing with tukang ojek. We sometimes try to ignore that they are real; but once we get stuck in Jakarta’s crazy traffic and we need to be somewhere quickly, we know we can always count on our lovely tukang ojek (by saying this, I assume everybody knows very well what a tukang ojek is).

I know this because I learned the hard way. About two months ago my car got broken due to my careless driving style and it had to be put in the workshop for more than a month. Going to my office in Sudirman with the help of public transportation was definitely not a choice since there’s only one kind of bus that passes my area of living which is frustratingly so unreliable.

So, one morning I went to ojek station near my house and told one of the guys that I would need their service every morning. Ojek service may not be cheap, but during my no-car experience for a month, I proved myself that ojek can be a very reliable transportation in Jakarta.

For a month a very polite forty-something man would come to my house at 8 every morning with his old motorcycle. He would wait for me patiently while I was still busy preparing all the things I needed to take to the office. When I was finally ready I would usually say, “I’m sorry for waiting too long.” And he always replied with a smile, “It’s no problem.” He would lend me his ugly-looking helmet and we were both ready to conquer Jakarta’s cruel traffic.

Using ojek service every morning for almost a month was an eye opener for me. Despite the fact that you will breathe Jakarta’s dirty and polluted air and you will sweat a lot due to Jakarta’s hot weather, I realized that through ojek we could get and learn many things.

First, ojek without any doubt is the fastest transportation service you can get in this city. Nothing can beat it. And for that reason you can always save a lot of time by using ojek. It takes me at least an hour to go to my office during rush hour with car. But, with ojek I can expect to arrive less than 20 minutes; although that depends on how good the tukang ojek is.

We all know how frustrating traffic in Jakarta can be and sometimes it can be very unpredictable too. And when you’re driving your car, there’s nothing you can really do when trapped in traffic congestion. When you’re stuck, it only means you’re stuck. But it’s a different story if you use a motorcycle. You can do a lot of circus tricks on it, and that’s exactly what most tukang ojek are really good at.

Second, to ride ojek means you can learn how bad the quality of our air is. You will understand that to put Jakarta among the cities with the worst air condition is no joke at all. You will realize that the pollution in this city is so bad that you would probably think it would actually kill you if stayed outside for an hour or so.

Middle-up people in Jakarta always avoid being outside too long. We always want to be inside of something; either it’s a car or a building. As long as there’s air conditioner we’re be happy. But that kind of mentality is not really what we need to have right now. We should be aware that we need to pay more attention to our environment. And Jakarta’s air condition is a very good indicator how we have lost our interest in appreciating our environment. I believe we are all familiar with the flood tradition that this city has to face every year. I myself had the worst flood experience this year when my city car had to be towed because I tried to fight the rain and flood (not a very wise decision).

What I have found out is that riding ojek can be a good moment of truth for us to realize that we have to take some serious actions to save the air and the whole environment. To suck such unhealthy air, you will understand this is not the kind of air we want our grand children to have.

Third, by using ojek you might be able to appreciate Jakarta’s motorcyclists better. I know that’s not easy because I’m among those guys who always curse at those crazy motorcyclists too. My car has been hit a few times already by irresponsible motorcyclists who usually flee so quickly after hitting or making a scratch on somebody’s car.

But try to be on the motorcycle seat during rush hour in Jakarta’s traffic. You will understand how riding a bike in Jakarta is no fun experience at all. It’s hot and it’s tiring, all you want to do is get to your destination as soon as possible. You will no longer care about the traffic light, the sidewalk, people crossing the street, and even the police officers. All you want to see is the finish line.

I’m not saying we should tolerate those motorcyclists who break the law. But it’s important to make a note on why they do it and then find the right solutions.

Fourth, which is probably the most important one, ojek can give you a good lesson on what life is really like in Jakarta.

Yes, we may have been aware of those unlucky people on the streets (street beggars and pengamen). And we probably have always helped them by giving some money too. But trust me, to see such a phenomenon from our comfortable car while having our air conditioner and radio on is so different from seeing it “live”.

By having yourself on the seat of ojek, you will be part of the real Jakarta; the kind of life most people in this city have to face. You will see how life is so much about struggling in this city.

Ojek may not be something that we can be proud of as people of Jakarta. But its presence, like it or not, helps us in many ways. It is, without any doubt, the most reliable transportation service when time is not on our side. Ojek can also be a very good tool to enjoy Jakarta in a very unique way and it’s also a good medium to grasp Jakarta’s real life.

So next time you take an ojek, never forget to treat the tukang ojek nicely. When you hand him the money after enjoying Jakarta’s city tour, reply his gratitude by saying, “You’re welcome, I love you too.”


3 Responses to "Tukang ojek, I love you too!"

Have an ojek experience!

Pengallaman naik ojek yang tak terlupakan adalah dari Depok ke jakarta pas kerusuhan Mei 98.Ongkos seharga naik taxi. Gpp sih karena emang gak ada angkot atau taxi yang berani turun ke jalan waktu itu

Ternyata ada pengalaman yang selalu mewarnai kehidupan kita ya mas 🙂

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guebukanmonyet is Tasa Nugraza Barley. He's a free man with unique thoughts and dreams. He sees his life and this world differently from anyone else. That's because he knows what he wants; and for that reason he doesn't want to be the same. Read why he blogs, here.

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