Wheels of her fortuneJudy Welch on the job at Jeff’s Tyre Shop, is not afraid to get her hands dirty. (Lennox Devonish)
Fri, May 04, 2012 - 12:02 AM
JUDY WELCH is one woman who has found her niche in a field currently dominated by men.
Not one to sit by and rely on a man to do everything for her, Welch cuts her own lawn and, if her car gets a flat, she changes it herself. In fact, fixing and changing tyres is exactly what she does for a living as possibly the only woman working in a tyre repair shop in Barbados.
And she’s really good too.
The Marchfield Main Road, St Philip resident works at Jeff’s Tyre Shop, conveniently located across the street. She told the WEEKEND NATION how she got her start.
“I used to work at a baker shop but then I got laid off so I used to come here and sit down. One day I just started to help,” she said.
From there, Welch received on-the-job experience and realized she had a knack for a job generally regarded as firmly in a man’s domain.
“It was difficult at first because I was frightened of the machine, but I handle it like a man now,” she said with a laugh.
The “at first” was seven years ago and Welch has not looked back since. Now practically an expert, she showed the weekend NATION team how deft she had become at removing tyres from their rims and replacing them, demonstrating the technique which took her less than a minute.
“A lot of men were impressed to see a woman doing the work so a lot of them request me and the women also appreciate it too. I enjoy doing this work and I would like to go into my own business one day,” she said.
Welch said the tyre shop usually handled the smaller tyres – up to 17 inches – the “doughnut” and wheelbarrow tyres, referring owners of the larger ones to another tyre shop.
As for her thoughts on women doing “men’s” work, she said there was no reason a woman could not do anything she put her mind to but too many young women preferred to play the victim.
“Young girls don’t like this kind of work because they would get their fingernails dirty. I want to tell women with cars whose tyres burst not to ‘just stand there on your BlackBerrys waiting for someone to help you’.
“They should try to help themselves; I am proof we are strong enough to do it,” she said.
During the interview, a young man, Alvin Rochester, came in to purchase a tyre and was quickly and efficiently dealt with by Welch, who even offered to change it for him. Rochester said he had no problem with going to a woman for help with tyres.
“It’s a good thing. I see women on the road and a man has to stop and go and change their tyre. So it is good when a woman shows her stronger side,” he said.
Welch has no intention of turning back and hopes, through her example as a pioneer, to inspire other women to engage in tyre repair work.
“I love the rubber and the rubber loves me,” she said. (CA)
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