2 weeks ago
Wednesday, 13 April 2011
This is part of a series called Gettin' By, that looks at street-level jobs, and the basic economics behind them.
Profession: Traffic Performer
Location: Some of the infinite busy intersections within the megacity.
How it Works: Light turns red, cars reluctantly stop. A captive market stares from behind their windshields. On any given day, all shapes and sizes appear at the cruzero, performing a wide range of "talents" - of which the skill level range is graphically unplotable.
In Tijuana the other day, Spiderman juggled on stilts while Wonder Woman danced on the side for a bit, then collected from the line of windows.
There are an unbelievable amount of clowns: forlorn clowns, juggling clowns, unicycle clowns, scarily happy clowns, downright scary clowns. (Seriously, if anyone has a real explanation for why there are so many clowns, I am on a 'want to know' basis).
Also lots of jugglers, the odd music thing, kids running around, breakdancing (not always distinguishable from the former, as skill level varies), traditional dancing and - amongst myriad other thangs, but pictured above - fire dancing.
A good traffic performer needs 'the force' - the knowledge of light change speeds. You want to max out your performance time, so as to please the commuters. But countless - 80%, if I had to guess - boogey right up until the light changes, leaving almost no time to pass by the cars for collection. Then they complain about making no money.
Usually drivers offer up whatever shrapnel they have in cup holders, sweater pockets or purses. 3 - 5 pesos is about average, though generosity or showmanship can lead to more. There's myths about people being passed 500 peso bills, but its mainly stoned teenagers singing that tune; old hands know its a metal game.
Add up that metal, and 200 pesos is the standard 5 hours for "Rico", seen above, but he doesn't do much else. An animated clown performer juggler on Gabriel Mancera said he makes about 250 in 3 - 4 hours, in between school and heading home. An older accordion player somewhere en La Del Valle said he would make about 200, but in closer to 3 hours in the evenings, after he finishes work. Where one person performs and another collects, rates double, even triple. More car windows, more pesitos.
Risks and Dangers: Pederestrianism is an 'at your own risk' thing across DF. Standing in front of a line of implicitly aggro drivers, and dodging between them as they accelerate in anticipation of la verde brings obvious risks. Robbery hits a few, as do cop shakedowns. Breathing unfiltered fumes all day on sunny pavement has its down sides. But, putting personal health at risk for a few bucks is not uncommon.
Posted by Esteyonage at 23:49