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I quit retirement to pursue my passion in hospitality

I’ve been working at Orchard Hotel as a washer in the laundry department since 2013. Before that, I had been in retirement for seven years, following a 20 year career at an electronics company.

Those seven years of retirement were spent taking care of my three grandchildren – one granddaughter and one twin pair of jokers, as I like to call them. I would be at the school gate, waiting for them to run out every day. Now they’re in secondary school. Of course, those jokers would be embarrassed to have their Grandpa waving at them from the school gate! I don’t pick them up anymore, so I looked for a more meaningful way to spend my time.

NEW YEAR, NEW WORK I saw an ad in the papers, asking for part-time help 24 hours a week. “I could do that,” I thought. That’s about 5 hours a day in the morning. Being an early bird, this sounded perfect for me.

I immediately rushed down to the hotel to send in my application. On the way back, before I even reached home, they called. They asked me to come back, so I did.

When I arrived, they asked, “Bee Huat, can you start tomorrow?” And that was the start of my journey in the hospitality industry.

LIFE IN THE LAUNDRY LANE I will never forget my first day of work. It was New Year’s day! First January 2013. I took the bus, and arrived at Orchard Hotel. 7am sharp.

When you’re used to building machines, washing laundry in the hotel is a completely different ball game! My wife takes care of laundry at home. But in the hotel, I am a laundry king. I wash all the employee uniform and clothing.

A piece of chocolate or a pen in a pocket can ruin the entire load. So I have to be very careful with the pockets. That’s how I learnt the “rules”– clean, no damage, no decolourisation and on time. If I cannot finish on time then the afternoon shift team will help out.

My colleagues are all very supportive. But the afternoon shift members have their own task to wash guests’ clothing, that’s why I rush to finish my load. It’s not nice to make other people to clean up after me.

“My supervisor was very kind and patient with me as I learnt the ropes.”

He helped a lot, chipping in to finish the load. If not for him, I wouldn’t have lasted this long. Sometimes I ask myself, can I really do this?

Being new, I could not complete my part in 5 hours at first. My supervisor said nothing and helped finish the rest. His patience and encouragement motivated me to keep doing more and more. Until one day, I was finishing 100% of the washing on my own! That was when I started to really enjoy my work.

I have to confess. This is not the easiest job in the world. To get 100% of the washing done in 5 hours, I have to really focus on doing my job well. But it’s a good challenge that keeps me active.

If I don’t work, I would be working out in the gym to keep my strength up. I used to play tennis when I was younger, so my knees are no good now. But as long as my legs can still move, I will continue working here. Why? Because I think it’s the perfect job for me!

THIS JOB FITS PERFECTLY INTO MY LIFE I wake up early. Go to work. Eat the breakfast the hotel provides for employees. Then I wrap up the five-hour shift with a shower and the lunch provided by the hotel.

“At work, I start my 5-hour shift with a free breakfast, and end with a good lunch."

When I reach home, I have half the day to read the newspapers, and play the guitar. I’m still learning so I’m sure my neighbours are getting annoyed with this old man playing badly on his guitar! By 9pm, I’m in bed. I make sure I have eight hours of sleep every night.

I’M A SIMPLE MAN, I DON’T NEED MUCH My family never told me to go out and work. I work to fill my time and stay active. Thankfully I found this job, and thankfully too, it came with a kind supervisor.

I’m a very simple man. I don’t need much to live. So you know what I do with the money? I spend it on my grandchildren. In fact, half of my pay goes to them! It makes me very happy that in my own little way, I can still provide for them.