The 317 Project tells stories of life in all of Indianapolis’ vibrant neighborhoods —317 words at a time.
At American Eagle — not the clothing store — Mahmoud Baidas helps out two customers needing new tires and rims. They’d just dropped by because a friend had recommended this tire shop in the Venerable Flackville neighborhood.
“This shop is like a neighborhood shop,” Baidas said.
He’s a manager and partner at the business, which sells tires, old and new, and offers some mechanic services. He wasn’t supposed to be here, not for this long, anyway.
He grew up in Jordan, immigrating to Indianapolis nearly 10 years ago to study graphic design. He worked part-time jobs while taking classes. He knew no one.
“It’s hard, I’m telling you,” Baidas said. “Nobody give me advice… And I have to figure out. But God help me anyway. God always help.”
Although he came with a set purpose, he found himself struggling to make ends meet. He left his master’s program to work full time.
Sitting in his shop today, wearing a mechanic’s uniform shirt, surrounded by dozens of stacks of tires, he remembers the different hats he’s worn.
He’s worked at a gas station, restaurant, Amazon warehouse, ice cream truck, and medical transportation service. He’s been entrepreneurial, too — he bought a box truck to open his own delivery service, Baidas said, but that didn’t work out.
“I keep going,” Baidas said, “Part-time, here and here. I’m everywhere. I want to find my way. You know?”
He’d never worked with cars before, but like graphic design back in Jordan, Baidas worked hard at it to become better. He started out by working on his own car before moving on to customers’ cars, “light business,” he said, like fixing brakes and oil changes. Today, he enjoys it, probably more so than any office job.
Years ago, another mechanic predicted his fate.
“One guy, he was working here, (said) ‘Hey man, if you come to this business, you’re never gonna go out of it.’”