Gale Sheiles: Driven to retirement

Driven to retirement: Sydney worker's fateful trip on bus

SYDNEY city worker, Gale, who is 66, until last month, used to catch two buses to work; one from Cammeray to North Sydney and then another from North Sydney to the city. 

After doing this trip for 20 years, three things happened that tipped her over edge. 

"On the bus route are some private schools. None of those kids ever offer you a seat; it's just accepted.

"I am used to standing up because the kids never stand up. But this one particular day, I was standing waiting to get to my first stop and this woman, who was about 35, asked me if I would like her seat. I said okay and took the seat.

"I then got on my next bus which was full as well. There weren't any kids on that one. Another woman of about 35 offered me her seat. And I thought, oh, this has never happened to me before, ever. I have just had two bus trips within 10 minutes and two offers of seats. I really thought I don't like this; maybe I am getting old? It really worried me.

"I got off the bus in the city and I started walking to work. You know when you are in the city and there are always people handing out stuff to you. There was this bird handing some stuff to people walking in front of me, but when I got towards her, she retracted her hand and didn't give it to me.

"I thought, why isn't she giving it to me? Why is she giving it to all these other people?

"I thought maybe I'm not the right person. Maybe it's for a gym and she doesn't think I am well enough or young enough to have a gym membership. Or maybe she is selling funeral insurance and she might have thought I wasn't a worthwhile candidate because I might be collecting more than I contribute.

"That all happened within the space of 20 minutes.

"After that I decided I was getting old. Then I thought, well if people are thinking about me like that then maybe I should retire.

"So, I did."

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