Eighty-one-year-old Lee Yong was a housewife for many years. When her two children grew up and her husband got demoted from his work in the airport and didn’t want to work anymore, at the age of 50, she decided to start working. The grandmother of one who hailed from China said, “There was no one to support the family so I had to go out to work.”
The very next day after her husband’s revealing news, she went looking for a job and ended up working for a factory making spare parts near her home. When the factory moved to Woodlands, she followed and it helped that she got a pay raise as well. “I don’t know much about manufacturing, but I wanted to learn and continue to work.” A shuttle bus hired by the company would come to her area and take her to work. Even though working eight hours, five days a week can be tiring at times, she said: “Even if tired, I must work as I needed the money.”
When her eyesight started to deteriorate and the company stopped the bus service, she took the MRT for a while. But at the age of 78, after 28 years of service, she decided to call it quits. She shared that her supervisor, “a pretty woman in her 30s”, was very good to her. “If parts were heavy, she would help carry them up for me,” recounted Lee Yong about the relationship, which was more like a mother-daughter relationship than anything else. On her last day of work, her supervisor bought her tonics and birds’ nest, and got her husband to fetch her home and bring all her things.
Nowadays, work is far from her mind. Living with her unmarried and unemployed son, she helps with the cooking, going to the market and housework. And when there is a free moment, she enjoys watching dramas on TV, sometimes even till the wee hours of the morning! She laughed: “If my eyes get too tired, I would put on sunglasses and continue watching TV.”