Xelebrity of the Month – October
XelaWho’s ear-the-ground correspondent, Jalapeno Jacobo, brings you the stories behind the famous faces you see around town in Xela. This month he spoke to Angel Rodriguez who drives one of Xela’s many fine micro buses
How long have you been driving micro buses?
I started driving micros twenty years ago.
Why did you start working in the micro business?
I needed a job.
Ahh that makes all the sense in the world. Do you own this micro?
No, Jorge owns it.
He’s a member of a company that operates some of the micros in town. There are five main companies that own all the micros in Xela.
And how does your relationship with Jorge work?
Basically, I pay him Q200 every day no matter how much money I make. I also have to pay for the gas, I have to pay for any mechanical issues, and I pay my ayudante’s salary. (The ayudante is the guy who hangs off the micro and yells at you.)
Is it easy to pay those Q200 every day?
Definitely not these days. 10 years ago I was actually making a lot of money, but now there are way more micros and fewer passengers. We’re all just barely getting by.
Who decides that the micro costs 1.25 Quetzales per ride?
It’s a city law that all micros have to charge that price.
So why is it always more at night?
We, the drivers, decided that we would charge Q2 at night. We obviously want to make extra money.
Is there a limit to how many people can be on a micro at once?
Yeah, any more than 18 is against the law.
What’s the most people you’ve ever had on your micro at once?
What other laws are micro drivers constantly breaking?
Everyone on the micro must be seated at all times. The door must be closed whenever the micro is moving, and we can only stop at predefined stops. All of those carry a Q500 fine if you get caught.
Wow, Talk about impunity. Have you ever actually been caught?
Yeah, but only once. At the end of the day, it’s definitely worth it to break the rules.
Are there any women micro drivers?
Yeah, but only a few.
They don’t like the job much; it can be complicated.
I see…What’s the worst part about the job?
The traffic is always really stressful.
Sounds tough. Do you care about pedestrians and dogs when you’re driving?
Of course! You have to give respect to get respect.
Great, we appreciate it. What would happen if I didn’t have enough money to pay for this trip?
Umm, I guess you wouldn’t have to pay..
Good to know.
Thanks for the ride!
(Pay your micro drivers, everyone!)