“Tukang Tambal Ban” (Tire Patcher): A Boon or A Crime?

Having a flat tire is an occasional risk of having a car or a motorbike. We all experience it every now and then. When you do, finding a tire patcher (Indonesian: tukang tambal ban) is heaven-sent, especially if you don’t have the skills and/or the equipment to patch or replace the flat tire yourself.

"Tukang Tambal Ban" (Tire Patcher)
"Tukang Tambal Ban" (Tire Patcher)

But a having tire five times in five consecutive days, of which twice were caused by suspicious needle punctures and twice having to replace the tube, is a hell-sent crime! And that is just what I have just experienced in the past five days.

Just past mid-night on the way home from covering the New Year’s celebration in town for my blog, I had a flat tire. “Luckily” a tire patcher was not far away. That night the puncture did not look suspicious. My tire might not have had been well inflated and because of that the tube was damaged, puncutured, and hence the flat tire. The tire patcher suggested that I replace the tube because it was punctured in several places and badly damaged. For peace of mind, I agreed.

But just as felt secure knowing that I had a new tube, I had the same problem again the next day. I was in a hurry to go to work when my tire got flat again. Desperate and exasperated, I rode it on to the nearest tire patcher kiosk, which I knew was only a few hundred meters ahead. My recklessness cost me a fortune. The tube was damaged and had to be replaced again. But what upset me most was not the fact that I had to replace the tire again (I knew I should not have had riden my motorbike when the tire got flat), but the cause of the initial puncture. A suspicious needle made of what looked like a sharpened aluminum wire was found puncturing the tire. That was the culprit, and it could not have been just accidentally lying on the road. Somebody must have had planted it. By whom? Well, it could have been anybody, but technically who would have planted such a thing? What would that person gain from such an irresponsible act?

Two days later, I got exactly the same problem again, caused by exactly the same shape of needle and at the location that was close to where I had the second incident! Hell! How could I not have surmised that it was these tire patchers who deliberately spread the needle mine in order that they get more customers?

Later in the day, I got a flat tire again. This time the puncture was not caused by a needle (and the location was far from the first one I had that day), but – according to this second tire patcher I had to see that day – by the misinstalling the tube. Because of this, the tube got folded/creased, and hence another puncture and flat tire. I felt so incredulous! Twice in a day, and five times in a five days, two tube replacements, and two punctures caused by the same shape needles!

Instead of a help and boon, these tire patchers have now become more like criminals! They would do just about anything to get more customers and money. Looking at my experience the past five days, I could conclude that their modus of operation are these: Spread needle mine around where their businesses are or install the tube in such a way so that in no time, the customer will get another flat tire.



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