Go to contents

Gas Station Fills Up Dreams for the Retirees

Posted December. 09, 2005 07:38,   


At the Hyesung Gas Station, clerks and customers exchange warm greetings like neighbors. The workers are all middle-aged or older. The average age of the owner Yun Hak-soo (77) and four other employees is 61.

These employees started working here around three to four years ago. They gathered one by one by the help-wanted advertisement on the gas station wall or by introduction of others.

Owner Yun used to be a major of the military. The employees who are living a second life here are Mr. Han, a former owner of an academic institute, Song Sang-mun (54), a former manager of a manufacturing company, Park Seong-kyu (50), who worked at a bus company as a mechanic for 20 years, and Yun Mun-sang (50), who used to be a sales manager at an auto parts company.

Han started working here four years ago when he handed in his resume to an elderly job agency at a welfare center for senior citizens, which introduced him to this gas station.

He lives with his wife. His five children all have gotten married. He wakes up at 4:00 a.m., does some exercises, and always arrives at work 30 minutes earlier than the starting time. “I earn some one million won a month. It’s fairly helpful for living, and I can give allowances to my grandchildren, too. Working keeps my body healthy, and I never get bored,” he said.

Park is the youngest in this gas station. He must be respected as an elder elsewhere, but here, he is the one that should have respect for others.

“I felt sad when I retired from work, but now I feel like a first-year worker again,” said Park. “I like going for a drink from time to time with others after work.”

However, sometimes the workers become distressed. Once, Park asked a customer in his 20s to stop the engine before pumping gas. The customer was as young as his own son. “Cut it out and just fill my tank,” was the answer.

They were shocked at the rudeness of young customers at first, but now they know what to do. When they treat them with respect and courtesy, most realize their faults and apologize.

“When I worked with young people, they tended to be absent a lot and often quit after a short time,” said Yun, the owner. “The older workers may not be quick on their feet, but they are warm-hearted and faithful. Customers like them, too.”

This gas station recorded a 20 percent increase in annual sales, and won a “Best Practice” award; an award given to gas stations with excellent management records out of 2,200 Hyundai Oil Bank pumps nationwide.

Sun-Mi Kim kimsunmi@donga.com