Learning > Inspiration

Deliveroo rider shifts into high gear at 67

He comes out of retirement to combine love of riding and meeting people

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ZAIHAN MOHAMED YUSOF on 24 Sep 2018

The New Paper

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He came out of retirement in April this year to give food delivery a try.

 

And since then, Mr Yeow Boon Kwee has not looked back.

 

He has landed a job that allows him to be close to his two loves - riding a motorcycle and meeting people.

 

At 67, when most bikers start to slow down, Mr Yeow has shifted into a higher gear working for food delivery company Deliveroo.

 

The former acupuncturist and massage therapist told The New Paper: "Age is just a number. It all depends on your lifestyle (and) your positive attitude."

 

Mr Yeow, who makes food deliveries on his 1979 Yamaha RXK 135cc motorcycle, does not like to be cooped up.

 

He makes as many as 10 deliveries a night on his motorbike, which he bought new for $1,200.

 

Deliveroo, which partners 4,000 restaurants here, said its two-wheel fleet is 70 per cent motorcycles, 20 per cent bicycles and the remainder e-bikes. And 97.5 per cent of its food deliverers are below 50.

 

For Mr Yeow, meeting and talking to people helps in what he describes as "reverse ageing".

 

Said the bachelor: "I am comfortable talking to people. For me, it is habitual. When you see people, you greet them. It's a kind of respect."

 

By the time Mr Yeow rings a customer's doorbell, he is armed with a smile, a funny one-liner as an ice breaker and the intoxicating aroma of hot food.

 

Most people respond to his friendliness by offering him drinks or even giving tips.

 

Added Mr Yeow, whose first motorcycle was a 1941 BSA 500cc: "I like to talk to people and build a relationship. I don't like to pass the baton."

 

By that, he means leaving immediately after a food delivery without making any attempt to know customers.

 

But there are bad days when he is greeted with angry faces, which usually happens when the weather turns foul.

 

"When it rains, we can't proceed," said Mr Yeow.

 

UNHAPPY

 

"Some customers become very unhappy and snatch the food from us. But I understand because they are hungry."

 

In the event of bad weather, customers are informed of delays.

 

Safety is a top priority for Deliveroo and its riders.

 

So that deliverymen do not speed or take risks on the road, Deliveroo uses Frank, an algorithm based on powerful predictive technology.

 

Frank assesses the most efficient way of distributing orders and "which rider has the best characteristics to fulfil each order" based on the location of restaurants, the weather and distance, among other factors.

 

Using technology makes Mr Yeow's job more efficient during his nightly four-hour tour.

 

But he admits to going "old school" by not relying on the Global Positioning System (GPS) to get to his destination as he knows the streets well.

 

On his days off, you can expect Mr Yeow to venture into Malaysia with his riding buddies. He makes stops at villages, striking conversations with the residents there.

 

The farthest he has ridden his two-stroke Yamaha is to Hatyai in southern Thailand.

 

But dark clouds loom over the fate of his 39-year-old motorcycle, which will be forced to "retire" by 2028 due to the National Environment Agency's policy.

 

Still, Mr Yeow said he hopes the authorities could look into his case as he depends on his motorcycle for work daily.

 

"I have been riding since I was 16," said Mr Yeow. "(Riding) becomes like an obsession. If I don't ride, I feel sick."

 

Source: The New Paper © Singapore Press Holdings Limited. Reproduced with permission.