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Age is just a number for senior citizen Grab food rider

At 65, Zakaria Abdul Wahab is enjoying the freedom that comes with setting his own schedule and the joy he finds mixing with other younger riders.

Azzman Abdul Jamal
3 minute read
Zakaria Abdul Wahab places an order in his delivery bag outside a restaurant in Kuala Lumpur.
Zakaria Abdul Wahab places an order in his delivery bag outside a restaurant in Kuala Lumpur.

Zakaria Abdul Wahab loves his job as a Grab delivery rider. Every day from 10am to 9pm, he makes his way through the capital city on his trusty motorcycle, delivering food to the doorsteps of waiting customers.

It’s not until he gets off his motorcycle that his age becomes apparent.

Zakaria is 65 but is still eager to hit the road each day.

Speaking to MalaysiaNow, he said he used to work as a driver at a private company. After 21 years, though, he began wishing for a job that would allow him more flexibility.

“The great thing about being a rider is that I determine my own work schedule,” he said. “This makes me feel very free.”

Each day, he makes his way through Mont Kiara or the spots around the Pandan Jaya housing area. This has been his routine for three months now.

His target for himself is to make a net income of at least RM100 per day which, according to him, is not that difficult at all.

Zakaria Abdul Wahab arrives at a restaurant in Kuala Lumpur to pick up a customer’s order.

Most days, the only thing that might stand in his way is the rainy weather.

“That’s all,” he said.

“I am thankful that I have had good customers,” he added. “If something happens to make me fall behind schedule, I just let them know and usually the response is very positive.”

Zakaria recently made waves as a senior citizen food delivery rider when a customer who ordered a meal through Grab uploaded a video of him on TikTok.

The clip of him slowly making his way to the gate made him an overnight internet sensation, garnering hundreds of thousands of views in just a few days.

For him, the most heartwarming response has been from those who extend words of encouragement to him or offer him assistance in the form of cash aid.

“I pray for the best for everyone who has offered me help,” he said.

Enough to live on

Zakaria’s job as a food delivery rider allows him to cover his monthly expenses on top of his bills for electricity, water and Astro.

Zakaria Abdul Wahab leaves a customer’s order at the guardhouse of a condominium, in line with Covid-19 SOPs.

“My other commitments like the home and car loans have been settled, so I am not too burdened,” he said.

While some have claimed on social media that he was forced to become a delivery rider because his children did not want to work, he said this was not true.

He has two adult children aged 32 and 24 who still live with him, but they were retrenched due to the Covid-19 crisis which hit the country early last year.

“My eldest child used to work in construction while the younger one worked in the hotel industry.

“Both of them lost their jobs because of Covid-19,” he said.

Zakaria Abdul Wahab poses for a snapshot with a young man looking to show some support and encouragement for the senior citizen.

As a father who is himself enjoying life as a Grab rider, he said he would never force his children to take up jobs that they do not enjoy.

“I encourage them to follow their hearts, only then can they truly enjoy doing the work they are given,” he said.

For himself, he sees no reason why his age should get in the way of him making friends with other riders, most of whom are a good four decades younger than he is.

“They see me as a friend as well,” he said with a laugh. “Since I am always with them, I too feel very young.”

His advice to others is simple.

“Find a job that you enjoy, and don’t let your age stop you from doing whatever it is that you want.”