At 88 filling station attendant Maria calls it a day

Maria Van Hemel, the filling station attendant at Garage Dankers in Herentals (Antwerp Province), is retiring.  For the octogenarian it’s her last day at the petrol station after 64 years in the job.

Oil and gas firm Total says Maria in the oldest filling station attendant in the continent of Europe. 

To mark the occasion of Maria’s retirement her petrol station more closely resembles a florist’s than a filling station.  The entire station is full of flowers, cards and drawings. 

“I loved my job” says Maria.  “An awful lot of people swing by and I have a lot of fun.  I kept at it because I really couldn’t do without people.”

Maria is full of wisdom too:

“Often people would let me into their woes.  I would try and help them.  It’s better that way than that they have to help you.  I never had any hassle.  You should always bear in mind you are not perfect and you shouldn’t expect that of another.  Then you won’t have any trouble.”

Maria also received a letter from oil company Total that left quite an impression.

“They told me they had never experienced this before and that I’m the oldest filling station attendant in Europe.  They heaped thanks on me.”

“I’ll miss it all: not being able to natter at the pump, not being able to give the kids a lolly, but I have had my day.”

It’s not only Maria’s last day in the job, the filling station too is set to disappear, but Maria is not for moving.  She’s staying put at her home close to the filling station. 

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