Good life: My retirement job

The aisles of Walmart are calling a increasing number of post-retirement Cowichan residents. - Andrew Leong
The aisles of Walmart are calling a increasing number of post-retirement Cowichan residents.
— image credit: Andrew Leong

When full-on retirement from the work force is not really the desired option, there are places like Walmart that offer people a place to continue their working lives.

Among the 300 or so employees at Walmart’s superstore in Cowichan, there is a significant number of people who, for one reason or another, would rather remain working than be out and about fishing, golfing or gardening.

Walmart’s corporate hiring policy, according to human resources manager Pedro Oliveira, does not discriminate according to age.  In fact, it is a plus as it speaks loudly of the individual’s experience and work ethic.  People who want to work into their so-called retirement years are welcome at Walmart, Oliveira says.

Carl Rasmussen took retirement from his steel manufacturing plant job in Edmonton at age 57.  After buying and then renovating a house in Chemainus — both inside and out — Rasmussen found himself with time on his hands at the ripe age of 61. He had previously fancied himself as a Walmart greeter if he ever got bored, so he applied.

“After three years renovating and a little travelling, I noticed that all I was doing was watching Bob Barker and the Price is Right,” Rasmussen said. But, the Walmart people told him he was over-qualified for the job.

Today Rasmussen is pushing 67 years of age and he is still “putzing” around doing the store maintenance and general mister-fix-it Walmart hired him to do, instead of the greeter’s position.

“I’m not here for the money,” Rasmussen said.  “I like to have something to do; I like to putz around.  This is my putzing job.”

Another Alberta transplant, Gary Peters, at 70 years of age, has been with Walmart for 17 years and has no plans to retire.  He had come out of a high-stress challenging job as an oil patch superintendent and Walmart was a welcome opportunity to de-stress his working life.

“I don’t have to be in the workforce,” Peters says.  “I’ve got lots of things that I do; I golf and I go fishing but I do like to be going to work every day.”  Peters is Walmart’s furniture guy; assembling display models and helping customers check out products.

“As far as retirement is concerned,” he says, “I have no set date. Walmart’s been good to me and the people here are good.”

Carl Carter is a little younger but he, too, is retired from his main working career as an officer in Canada’s Navy.  He’d had enough of the high stress of the security work he found himself doing but, more importantly, his family was feeling the stress of the armed service’s propensity for transferring personnel all around the country.

“Family was the real reason for retiring,” Carter said.  “I wanted to keep the family together.”

But — and this is a factor many people face — his Navy pension wasn’t enough to live on, especially since he he is helping put his daughter through university.

Carter decided to try Walmart in 2008 when they were hiring for the new store in Cowichan Commons and came away with a job the very same day he applied.  He had expected to have to go home and wait for a call.

You won’t see Carter very often at Walmart — if at all — he’s the guy who maintains order and organization in the store inventory area that customers never get to see.

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