Indonesia Expat
Faces of Indonesia

Trisno the Mobile Coffee Seller

Trisno the Mobile Coffee Seller
Trisno the Mobile Coffee Seller
Trisno the Mobile Coffee Seller
Trisno the Mobile Coffee Seller

Trisno was far from surprised when Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle chairwoman, Megawati Sukarnoputri gave Jakarta Governor Joko Widodo the nod as their presidential candidate.

“I predicted it,” he says over honking horns and the roar of Kopaja exhaust on Jalan Sudirman, along the sidewalk outside of the Grand Sahid Hotel in the heart of Jakarta. “I told my all friends it was going to happen. It had to happen.”

Trisno, a 52-year-old pedagang kopi keliling (mobile coffee seller) whose route starts in Bendungan Hilir and takes him past the Grand Sahid every day, looks to one of the uniformed guards who is taking a break from waving through black sedans to enjoy a cup of coffee and corroborate his story. His friend smiles politely and toes at the ground with his boot.

“Honestly,” Trisno says while mixing another cup of hot water and instant coffee, “I would have liked to see Jokowi and Prabowo together on the same ticket. I like Jokowi, he’s clean.”

With that, Trisno takes the plastic wrapper the instant coffee came in and places it securely inside a red plastic bag located on the side of his bike and serving as a mobile rubbish bin.

As Jakarta moves from speculating about what it would be like ‘if’ Jokowi runs, his enthusiastic supporters are now dealing with the question of what it will be like after he wins. Most polls have Jokowi beating Prabowo by over 20 percent.

“I ride a bike every day to work. I have seen pictures of him on a bike plenty of times. He’s not like other politicians,” Trisno says.

Maybe the reason Trisno likes Jokowi so much, insisting that he is not like most politicians, is because Trisno isn’t like other coffee sellers. A father of two, Trisno has only been selling coffee for seven months. For the last three decades, he worked his fingers to the bone at a sawmill in Malaysia. But conditions there were tough, so much so that Trisno smiled, but insisted he not go into too much detail concerning why he left the sawmill and returned to Jakarta.

“I wanted to come back and be my own boss,” he says patting the seat on his bike. “I have everything I need to take care of my family right here. And I can work whatever hours I want. Most days I leave the house at 5am and then come back at 5pm. Between that, I can meet with friends and stop and sit under a tree and chat with friends if I want. Then, if I’m not too tired I go out again at night and sell some coffee or instant noodles. I get to go where I want, when I want.”

Not a bad way to go through life. Most people just talk about being entrepreneurs, or being their own boss; Trisno decided seven months ago, that rather than talking about it, he was just going to do it.

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