Lessons we can learn from seniors who work after retirement

CAREER, Career-Retirement, Tis Thing Called Life
A senior still working on the beautiful carvings (Thailand)

A senior still working on the beautiful carvings (Thailand)

Many seniors who have retired from their jobs still choose to work a less paying job to pass the hours. And they give exceptional and personalized service. They worked with their heart and do the little extra things that warm the heart of a customer, often a total stranger.

With years of working experience, seniors indeed have so much more to offer to society. Some of them embody the meaning of genuine service that is becoming increasingly difficult to find in the fast paced businesses of today.

Quite often, I visit a pharmacy chain where I would often see this cheerful senior lady on duty. She is special in the sense that she is very warm and friendly towards the customers. As she knew the items sold there very well, she would often offer hints and also advice the customers on offers on similar items. For instance, let’s say a customer picked up an eye drop and proceed to pay at the counter. If another eye drop brand is on discount, she would inform the customer.

On the eve of Chinese New Year this year, I needed to purchase something urgently and so I went to that pharmacy. I was surprised to see this lady on duty at the counter. She was cheerful, greeted each customer and give took time to chat a little with them. Normally, the eve of Chinese New Year means a lot to the Chinese community as we will have our reunion dinner with our families. No one would want to work on that day.

As I paid for my purchases, I queried asked the lady why she was working on the eve? She told me that her children are now overseas and could not come back for Chinese New Year. And she had nothing better to do so she would rather pass her time working in the pharmacy.

She would work till the fourth day of the Chinese New Year and go back to her hometown that day. At her usual cheerful self, she wished me a happy new year. The pharmacy chain is fortunate to have a staff like her- I have watched many staff come and go but she had stayed for a few years. And recently, the pharmacy even expanded by purchasing the store next door. Business must be blooming.

When I visited Singapore recently, I saw many seniors working well past their retirement. They would work jobs like cab drivers, cleaners, mall salesperson and food court worker. I was told that most of the time it is out of necessity because the standard of living in Singapore is so high. But often, these seniors display a lot of dedication and friendliness in performing their duties.

One wonders why can’t the young people today display the same kind of patience, calm, contentment as these seniors. My former colleagues used to complain to me that a number of younger generation whom they are hiring in the service industry often make them ‘vomit blood’ and give them lots of headaches. When these staff are corrected, they get upset and take medical leave the next day.

If many seniors who are educated and do not mind working in a job that they are obviously overqualified for, and yet dedicate themselves to their job, why can’t we? Being nice and helpful does not cost anything but makes a difference. It makes whatever job we are doing more meaningful and additional skills that we picked up along the way may well serve us well in our next job.

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  • Bencha Sep 11, 2010 Link Reply

    The retirement age in Thailand is 60. My parents are both government officails and they are in their late 50s.
    They want to take early retirement next year as they can’t cope with computers and new technologies.
    They find them very difficult. I’m a bit worried about their retirement life. Onec they’s got plenty of free time on their hands, they will get bored and want to occupy themselves with jobs again. Your article gives a cheerful feeling.


  • Yin Teing Sep 12, 2010 Link Reply

    Hi Benca,
    Yes, sometimes our parents tend to look forward to retirement but after a while, they get really bored and frustrated. If they want to work to occupy their minds, I think it would be a great idea 🙂

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