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70-year-old Grab rider proves age is just a number
Published on: Wednesday, February 21, 2024
By: FMT
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70-year-old Grab rider proves age is just a number
Zakaria Abdul Wahab says as long as he is healthy, he will continue working. (Tinagaren Ramkumar @ FMT Lifestyle)
PETALING JAYA: Zakaria Abdul Wahab is well-versed in the labyrinthine pathways of Mont Kiara, Sri Hartamas, and Bangsar. Each twist and turn, each hidden nook and cranny, is etched in his memory like a second skin.

Forget Waze or Google Maps. This savvy 70-year-old Grab rider needs no digital guidance. Hidden restaurants and condominiums tucked-away from sight don’t stress him out.

“I worked as a driver for 22 years and I always drove my previous boss to those areas. After my contract ended, I was wondering what else I could do. I am old, after all. So, I decided to be a Grab rider,” Zakaria shared with FMT Lifestyle.

In August 2021, Zakaria embarked on his new, e-hailing adventure. With the wind in his face, the city lights painting the night sky, and the satisfaction of delivering a warm meal or a forgotten necessity – these drove him forward.

His days are long, stretching 12 hours under the hot Kuala Lumpur sun and on a good day, he earns close to RM100. Rain is the only force that can slow him down, and even then, his breaks are brief at mamak stalls, punctuated by laughter and shared stories with fellow riders.

“I don’t go home to rest. That’s a waste of time. I have friends who do that but I can’t do it. If I do, I know it will be difficult to go out again,” the father of three, who sports a slight hunch, said.

Notwithstanding his age, Zakaria’s primary motivation is his family. Having an elderly spouse and two sons under his care, Zakaria is well aware that sustaining his family’s livelihood is his personal duty.

“I decided to do this because we need money for our daily expenses. Both my sons are staying with me and they are unemployed. So, I have to bear this and work,” Zakaria, who lives in Cheras, explained.

Although the weight of responsibility sits heavy on his shoulders, Zakaria doesn’t flinch. He speaks of his struggles with quiet dignity, acknowledging the inadequacy of government aid and the constant hum of bills needing to be paid.

Yet, his voice took on a resolute tone as he declared: “Even if I’m tired, I have to do it. I have to work hard. I don’t care about the hours.”

“If the government can give RM2,000 to RM3,000 every month, then I can stop doing this!” Zakaria quipped.

But amidst the challenges, there’s an undercurrent of joy. Zakaria finds happiness in his friendships with fellow riders, in the simple pleasure of downing a teh tarik between deliveries, and in the quiet satisfaction of a job well done.

“Your heart must be happy,” he said, his eyes twinkling. “You need to enjoy it and not be sad. That is really important because when we are sad, we can get all sorts of diseases. So, enjoy it.”

This philosophy extends beyond his personal life. As a Grab rider, he takes immense pride in being meticulous. Every package is carefully secured, every address double-checked, every customer treated with respect.

“We have a responsibility,” he emphasised. “We need to make sure everything is done properly. So far, I have not received any complaints from customers.”

His advice to young people considering this path is simple yet profound: “Don’t be lazy. Work hard.”

He dispels the myth that age is a barrier, his own story a testament to the boundless potential of the human spirit.

As for retirement? It’s a distant thought. “As long as I’m healthy,” he declared with a smile, “I will continue doing this. And it’s fun. I want to do this every day.”

* If you wish to help Zakaria, contact him at 017-6811312

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