A flat tyre is a great leveller. Motorists concur that money is of little use when they have a deflated tyre with no spare or help at hand.
And tyres often run flat at the most inconvenient time. It can be on a weekend when everything is closed or while driving home after a late night movie.
Fortunately for city residents who face a motor vehicle breakdown on account of a punctured tyre, round-the-clock help is now a mobile phone call away.
Ibrahim Hussain, who was repatriated from Saudi Arabia along with thousands of other migrants early this year, is one among a handful of men who has found profitable self-employment in patching punctured tyres.
In May, he kitted out his old scooter with a large tank to hold compressed air, tyre pressure gauge, jack and wrench, and converted it into a “mobile tyre repair unit”.
Initially, few people knew about the service he offered. Hussain used to set out from home at night, scouring the city for stranded motorists. Police night patrols often challenged him for lugging around an iron tank on the pillion seat of his scooter. He had to frequently convince them that it was not illicit spirit but pressurised air.
Hussain’s first customers were autorickshaw and taxi drivers and truckers. At first business was bad. Soon the unique service he offered spread through word of mouth and trade picked up.
In the past three months, he has helped stranded motorists ranging from working women to rich celebrities get home.
Many of his customers have become friends for life. One even offered him a new scooter for free, which he politely declined.
Hussain, like the handful of others in his business, charges Rs 100 for reaching the spot of the breakdown, prising a punctured tyre from its rim, patching it and putting it back on the wheel “all in 20 minutes”.
Currently, he attends not less than 20 calls a day and takes home a profit of Rs 1,000 and upwards daily. Nails, bad roads and damaged valves often cause flat tyres. Hussain says some urban neighbourhoods are infamous for mischief makers who deflate tyres on purpose.
Hussain views his line of work as more of a good samaritan service than a mere trade. He can be contacted at mobiles 9567739387 and. 8606396047.