I started humming this old song in my head as I spotted the elderly postman when I was walking home today. Oh wait, why was he turning to look in my direction with a quizzical look on his face? Shucks, did I just sing those lyrics out loud???
“Hello, Encik!” I greeted him quickly as I tried not to collapse from embarrassment. Oh dear, soooo… malu!
Mister Postman seemed to be even more shy than I was, so I decided to have a little chat with him and get to know our neighbourhood postman better.
“Encik, I live around here and I’ve seen you many times already. How long have you been working as a postman?”
Mister Postman smiled shyly as he struggled to meet my eyes, and he replied me in a soft voice. “I’ve been working with SingPost since 1965. Forty-nine years already.”
Wah, that’s since Singapore’s independence from Malaysia! I just love when all the forces of the universe collide to bring us coincidental happenings like this!
I went on to ask him about his work.
He smiled gently as he spoke, “In the morning, I do mail sorting, and then I use bike to deliver the mail until about 5pm.”
He said it was not hard work, but yes, the mail can be a little heavy once in awhile, but it’s manageable. The bigger challenge is when some home-owners leave the gates open and he gets chased by the dogs. Whoa…! Home-owners, please be more considerate!
I looked at the tanned and lean man with such gentle eyes standing in front of me and reckoned he must be in his early sixties or so.
“Encik, how old are you?”
“I’m 68,” he said with a small smile.
“68?!! Aren’t you past retirement age already?”
Mister Postman shared that SingPost has a policy of re-employing staff when they reach the legal retirement age of 62. Beyond that, SingPost will offer a one-year employment contract that is renewable yearly once they reach 65 years old. For re-employed staff who have reached 65 years old and beyond, the supervisor will assess if the staff is fit enough and whether he is still capable of carrying out their tasks.
(Sidenote: I did some googling when I got home and found this 2013 news clip that reported that SingPost rehired 70% of the retired staff. Good on you, SingPost!)
“Encik, but why do you still want to work when you’re already 68?”
He has four children, the oldest son is 42 and the youngest is 28. He said his children are all happy that their father is still active and working; it is good to keep himself occupied with a job. In fact, he wants to work until he turns 70, and then take on a part-time job for a slower pace of life.
“It’s good to increase the re-employment age. It’s good for the new postmen because they can continue working like me,” he said.
“Encik, how do you keep yourself so fit and healthy?”
“My work is exercise! No work, no energy!” He chuckled heartily.
We also talked about retirement adequacy. He currently receives about $400 from CPF each month. Mister Postman says people cannot just rely on CPF for retirement, but need their own savings as well. I can only agree with the wise words of our Pioneer Generation!
On a separate day I decided to visit Mr Wakiman at work. Here are some behind the scenes shots of what goes on in the sorting room.
And now, here’s a tribute by the Beatles to Mister Postman, Encik Wakiman.