Elderly lady sells tissues to keep herself occupied

Have you ever heard of a tissue seller who sells tissues for fun?

Apparently, Minister Tan Chuan-Jin met one.

Minister for Manpower Tan Chuan-Jin is highly active on social media and often shares stories about the everyday people he meets. Some of them require help, while others seem contented with life.

Somehow, he managed to meet an old lady who sells tissues not because she’s poor, but because she wants to get out of the house and keep herself occupied.

After a chat, he concluded that she was probably doing fine, although skepticism for her well-being still exists. He wouldn’t have approached her otherwise.

Tissue sellers and their plight



Most of us might have heard stories of the elderly and disabled resorting to selling tissue paper for a living. Some unscrupulous “businessmen” even take advantage of the unfortunate by running tissue peddling syndicates, leaving a cut of the profits for themselves.

Last year, the National Environment Agency (NEA) was slammed for imposing a $120 license fee for tissue peddlers. NEA was derided for adding on to the plights of these tissue sellers and was accused of lacking compassion, but part of the reason for imposing the license was so that tissue peddling can be regulated, and these syndicates can be stopped.

The elderly lady that Minister Tan talked to has two daughters and a husband who works. Whether the old lady is a retiree or not is unclear, but she appears to be selling tissues because she has nothing to do, rather than because she is hard-up on cash; something Minister Tan wouldn’t have found out if he hadn’t chatted with her.

Lesson learned? Don’t stereotype tissue peddlers. Some really can’t make ends meet, but some also sell tissues to pass time.

Also, isn’t she selling tissue without a license?

Boredom of the elderly, and the future of working Singaporeans



The boredom of the old lady who has two married daughters and a working husband raises a question which not many might have stopped to think about: what do Singaporeans do once they stop working?

The climate in Singapore is to keep working (some say, till you drop).The re-employment age is being upped to 67, because many retirees still have to, or want to, continue working.

Are Singaporeans in danger of over-working, in the sense that we do not know of a life besides one as a working adult?

We do take the opportunity to travel whenever possible (long weekends, anyone?), but once we hit retirement age, a worry is that there will not be any savings left, or that the savings will go into housing and medical expenses instead (via CPF).

While the government can’t take responsibility for how people should spend their free time after retirement (that’s entirely up to the individual), the working climate in Singapore is a huge contributor to stress and worries. Many are not in a position to consider retirement even at retirement age. The worst-case scenario is that more retirement-aged citizens will end up selling tissue to pass time.

Knowing what to do with their free time is something to consider for the average working adult, even those in their 20s to 30s. Work isn’t supposed to encompass your entire life until death.

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Featured image via Tan Chuan-Jin
With references from Tan Chuan-Jin, Yahoo News