14 August 2023

Felicia never expected to spark a mini-movement when she broke down during peak hour

| Travis Radford
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The exit towards Tuggeranong Parkway from Gundaroo Drive attracts lots of traffic at the best of times. It’s also where Felicia Jane broke down. Photo: Felicia Jane.

It’s everyone’s worst nightmare. You’re driving to work in peak hour traffic – pre-caffeine hit – when something goes terribly wrong.

“It was only 7 am, but 7 am in Gungahlin is kind of like 9 am everywhere else because traffic builds up,” Felicia Jane laughs.

“I was approaching that turn-off towards the parkway and it’s backed up because people are trying to turn that corner.

“All of a sudden, I heard this loud noise and I thought, ‘Oh my gosh, what was that?’ and my tyre had gone so flat, so fast.”

Felicia immediately pulled over, but it’s what happened next that would set in motion a series of events that unexpectedly sparked a local mini-movement.

Flat tyre.

Felicia pulled over to find one of her tyres had gone completely flat. Photo: Felicia Jane.

But first, things went from bad to worse for Felicia. While she was “panicking on the side of the road” waiting for her insurer to come to her rescue for the best part of an hour, she was given the mortifying news they might need to redirect traffic.

“Which I personally thought was a little bit dramatic,” she says. “Because you never want to be the one that’s responsible for all these delays.”

Felicia made a last-ditch appeal to a local Facebook community group for someone to teach her how to change a tyre and, much to her surprise, a kind man named Simon who saw her Facebook post left his home specifically to come and help her change her tyre.

“Which I think is even more amazing in a way than someone just stopping on the side of the road,” Felicia says. “This man really went out of his way to come and help me.

“Receiving that community support I was hoping for meant the absolute world to me. I run a photography business on the side and I offered to give him free photography.”

Felicia Jane.

Felicia says she is so thrilled by the community hype her post generated and encouraged other Canberrans to take up Hamad’s offer. Photo: Felicia Jane.

But Simon wasn’t the only one to see Felicia’s post. Hamad Tarek Ajaje, managing director at Canberra Tyres, also took notice. But for a different reason.

“No need to pay anyone. Pass by Canberra Tyres and we’ll teach you the correct way. We are always here to help,” Hamad commented.

Felicia graciously accepted Hamad’s offer, and will be taking a lesson with both him and a friend. Hamad’s comment received more than 300 likes.

“It seemed like a need in the market. Why else would people like it so much?” Hamad remembers thinking to himself.

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The following day, he decided to make a new post in the same community group and extend the offer he made to Felicia to all Canberrans.

Hamad’s post inviting people to learn how to change a tyre and other basic automotive skills at no cost has received more than 4400 likes to date.

A former mobile mechanic, Hamad says he saw first-hand how people not having these skills led to them breaking down and even further damaging their cars.

four men giving the thumbs up in front of Canberra Tyres

Hamad and the team at Canberra Tyres invite all Canberrans to take them up on their offer of a free lesson. Photo: Canberra Tyres.

“Oil will actually determine the life of your engine. If you run a car with no oil, you could seize the engine and you’re going to need a new engine,” he explains.

“If you make a mistake while jump-starting a car, you could fry the boards or fuse and then you’re stuck for a couple of days until you get the correct part.

“I went to jobs where people were stranded in the bush and didn’t know what to do. These small hacks will get you out of trouble and on the road fast.”

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About eight people have taken Hamad up on his offer of free basic skills classes at Canberra Tyres so far and he says there’s still room left for others to join.

“I want to give back to the community because the community has given me so much ever since I stepped foot in Australia,” he says. “It’s only fair to give back.”

Canberra Tyres, located at 110 Wollongong Street, Fyshwick, will be holding free 30-minute basic skills lessons on Saturdays. To secure a place, please call 1800 701 030.

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I’d have thought you should learn how to change a tyre before you start driving alone. But I also used to think people would have to learn how to merge before being permitted to drive alone.

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