A dinosaur on a forklift, that’s what you could call Hans Boelen (63). Hans, born in Heerlen without his impressive tattoos, is proud of his 45 years of loyal service. He’s not much of a student, but a very good worker.
A course in car mechanics after secondary school offered him little perspective. ‘As a novice car mechanic, you would have been changing the oil in the pit for two years,’ he explains. Hans could start immediately at milk powder factory Schils. Hard work: manually loading and unloading trucks, carrying bags. Later, forklifts took over a large portion of this job. A short course on such a vehicle and off he went, with pallets and bags of up to a ton. He and his colleagues Sjaak and Joeri take turns starting at 7, 8 or 9 o’clock in the morning. ‘The atmosphere at work is good,’ says Hans, who also experienced the times of strict hierarchy. ‘In the seventies, it was all about doing things first and asking questions later. They would check whether you had tidied up enough before they gave you your salary,’ he laughs. At some point he took care of schedules at the office, but then returned to the warehouse: less headaches. He and his wife Hannie spent years taking care of their son Theo, who suffered from Duchenne muscular dystrophy and unfortunately passed away far too young at the age of just 29. Their great loss has made the love Hannie and Hans share even stronger. During the weekends they visit family or enjoy their home with a garden in Brunssum. Hannie has green fingers; Hans loves how she has turned their garden into a little paradise. He used to be a fanatical right back at football club Treebeek Sport. Now, listening to quality rock and Dutch chansons gives him his energy.
‘At some point I took care of schedules at the office, but then returned to the warehouse: less headaches.'