Madam Goh Gwek Eng, crowned to be the oldest employee of McDonald, earlier passed away on Monday (22 January) at the age of 90 due to stomach cancer.
It was reported that she has been working with the company when she was 70 and has been working with them ever since.
Mr Tan Pok Yong, a 71-year-old retiree, told the Straits Times that McDonald’s job was Mdm Goh’s first time working in decades. She had worked for the British as a helper in the 1950s to early 1960s.
The family was astonished when she said she wanted to go to work at her age.
Mr Tan told Chinese-language newspaper Lianhe Wanbao, “We wanted her to stay at home and enjoy life at first, but she said she was bored at home and could talk to other grandmas at McDonald’s.”
Madam Goh last worked part-time at the Bedok Mall outlet, and was at the now-defunct outlet at Bedok Interchange before that.
However, she quit her job in October last year as her condition deteriorated due to her illness.
Many people commented on the story. Many expressed amazement in regards to her spirit for working at that age.
Timothy DePeugh wrote, “I loved this lady. I remember her fondly. When I would go in the mornings, she always remembered I took my coffee black. When I told her once I liked the chili sauce, she smiled and gave me extra. She was such a hard worker – the way she managed queues of impatient, angry customers was a marvel to behold. I found her energy and dedication to be an inspiration.”
Anna Shultze wrote, “So sad.. I remember this lady every time I go in the Far East plaza. I always eat in McDonald’s and she is the one who serves us I love the way she speak in Filipino. I know she’s in heaven because of her kindness. May she Rest In Peace.”
Some complimented McDonalds for allowing elderly to continue working.
Keith Yeo wrote, “Salute to McDonalds. So nice of them to retain their employees till old age, unlike some other companies which cant wait to get rid of their older workers bcoz they want to ‘inject new blood’. Anyway this lady led a fulfilling and productive life right to the end. Wish I could do the same.”
Wak Mun Whai wrote, “My mum is also working part time at MacDonald’s,she’s in her 60s. As children,all of us gave her allowances but she felt bored at home and return back to work after decades. Last year, she tripped and injured her ankle. She tender her resignation during to her injuries. But her manager told her to rest and return to work anytime she feels okay. Today she’s still working there after 3 years. MacDonald’s though don’t pay really well but they have compassion and provide job opportunities to women who just want to work and contribute.”
TY You wrote, “McDonald’s deserves a shout out for walking the talk when it comes to hiring older workers. Appreciate the willingness to buck the trend. Hopefully more employers will do so.”
Janet Seto wrote her suggestion to McDonalds, saying, “I felt Mac managers should let youngsters throw rubbish. At Balestier Shaw Mac, I had been seeing very old ah ma pushing cart so huge rubbish. Should let those old ah ma do simple, like cleaning table or mop floor not the heavy work!”
Some share their experience of an almost similar situation with their family or relatives.
Maikel Poh wrote, “As long as she is happy, it doesn’t matter if she work till her last breath. My friend grandma also work in fast food chain, and she insist on working in orchard, because she like the vibrancy at orchard outlet. She is well provided, but she chose to stay active .”
Ley Shwu Jen wrote, “Thank you very much Mdm Goh, for your contribution to our society. Many youngsters or semi retired should learn from you. In fact, I’m also learning from my mother who’s 82 this year & working in an nursing home’s kitchen. Six days a week / 8am-4pm. No weekends off unless apply unpaid leave or change off day with colleagues. She finds it meaningful, because someone got to help prepare meals for the less fortunate. I only wish, they give her 4-6 hours for 4 working days. So she can rest a bit more.”
Alvin Nathanael wrote, “So people before commenting your fries are not done well, think before you talk. We have golden generations preparing your food! I hv staffs who are 85 yr olds and still going strong, cleaning and maintaining educated people offices and toilets… and they are not forced by circumstances to work and earn but to keep themselves busy and active.”
Harold Yeo wrote, “The older generation prefer to work because of boredom at home. Some of course due to financial constraints. It is better for them. It keeps their minds and limbs working. My mummy has been working at a particular rival to Mac for the last 29 years. She does so because she does not want to get bored at home.The only complain she has is that the FT bosses bully her.”
Some stated that there must be other reason for the elderly lady to work in such age.
Warren Packett wrote, “Given that she chose to be independent and not be bored. Working in a fastfood chain presents a lack of activities to engage the elderly.
My landlady in her 70s is learning a foreign language, going to dance classes and volunteering at a local school. So please.. Having elderly in a fastfood chain or other menial jobs, its a social ill not blessing. Peace.”
Alvin Loh wrote, “In Singapore or any part of the world, frankly to say, nobody would like to work till this old. What grandma said(bore) her good intention was her heart was with her children where she do not want to give extra stress or burden to them financially, physically or even mentally. She was such a kind and loving mother for what she had done for her children in this episode. Telling bore was not her true intention. Nobody would not wanna enjoy their lives during their golden age especially when you have already work more than half of your lifetime. Dear granny, you deserve my fullest respect. May you rip and may God bless you in your next life.”
Yash Padhiyar wrote, “I love Singapore. It’s in my heart. But I feel sad to see very old people working. I’m not against it, but 90 is not a number to work. RIP.”
Jonathan Liew wrote, “I’m surprised people are so gullible to believe everything they read.. Esp if it’s a personal account. Why would a 70 year old woman rather work than spend her retirement years with her family or grandkids or even friends? Can her peers be found only at workplace? McDonald’s isn’t a type of place a grandma can chat with other grandma while at work. She would have been fired.”
Clarence Paul Lim wrote, “Many people think that this Madam wished to work at 70. Try to put yourself in the shoes of these elderly. When your children is having a hard life, when your saving interest is merge, when the saving is drying up, when you want to maintain good relationships with all children, what do you do to survive? What reasons to give if so? Last question, who really want to work till death? Wishful thinking?”
Geoffrey Lim Ming Hui wrote, “That’s definitely not the way I want to spend my last year’s. I would want to travel and see the world. I hope gov would stop encouraging old people to work. Pains me to see everyone setting goals to work at such old age.”
However, some stated that the article is not up for political discussion.
Ang Lay Yong wrote, “I’m not sure why such a simple article like this can also bring in political views. If I can work till the day that my body fails me and enjoying what I’m doing, I would deem I’ve lived a fruitful life. The old lady chose to go back to the working society when she is 70yo. She preferred to be independent and be less dependent on her children, or even the government. Something that we should applaud her for. People have different interpretations on what enjoying life is. Perhaps expensive overseas holidays may define that for many but I’m sure this old lady had lived a life that she wanted.”
Alexa Amanda wrote, “This article isn’t here to invite political discussion. Please respect the old lady and give her your blessings instead. Rest in peace auntie, May god find you dear.”
Mei Oh wrote, “Not all old people work because of the money. When we age and our grown kids don’t need us anymore, we want to work to keep busy, to meet other people albeit ‘serving’ them. It keeps our minds active, our bodies fit, and it probably made her happy and feeling ‘alive.’ Maybe that’s her secret to living till 90?”