While society tells us that we should “retire” at a certain age, not all of us want to stop working. Many people are happy to keep on working for as long as they are physically able. This is the case with Bartolomeo “Bennie” Ficeto, a World War II veteran. At the ripe old age of 97, Bennie is still working, and retirement’s not on the cards yet.
Bennie doesn’t let his advanced age hold him back from doing what he wants to do. Instead of sitting back and doing nothing, twice a week, Bennie dresses up and reports for duty at the local Stop and Shop grocery store in Edison, New Jersey.
And he never forgets his special hat emblazoned with a B-25 Mitchell Bomber on the front. Bennie is a World War II veteran whose life was in very real danger during those dark days.
During the war, Ficeto says, there was a point at which he didn’t think he’d ever get home. It turns out that the day he didn’t fly out, his plane was shot down.
That could so easily have been him, he says, adding that every time he entered the cockpit of his fighter plane, he was afraid. Frightened or not, Ficeto still risked his life every day because that is what he was trained to do. Nowadays, although he still has a job, it’s far from terrifying.
Ficeto is surely an inspiration to all who meet him at the grocery store in New Jersey where he works twice a week. He’s been a familiar face at Edison, New Jersey’s Stop and Shop grocery store where he bags groceries for customers. And he’s bound to put a smile on your dial as his own face is always wreathed in smiles.
According to the shop’s manager, Sal Marconi, Bennie is a joy to have around, happy and chatty as he is. Customers love meeting up with the veteran when they’re doing they’re shopping and hope that he’s on duty when they visit.
Of course, when fellow veterans come into the store when Bennie’s working, the conversations they strike up are full of war stories and shared experiences. When one customer told Ficeto that he had served in both Vietnam and the Korean wars, Bennie shook his fellow veteran’s hand and thanked him for his service. The customer then thanked Bennie for his service, commenting that he was glad they’d both made it home.
These kinds of conversations, according to Ficeto, are what keep him keeping on. Even though he is entitled to a 15-minute break during his shift, he never takes it. He keeps on working because he loves meeting the customers whom he encounters.
His friendliness is obviously reflected right back at him because he comments that people are so nice it makes him proud. And even at 97, he doesn’t plan on stopping any time soon, saying he’s aiming for 100.
Amazingly, Ficeto can still stand for long periods of time without any problems. He’s a great deal older than most people who work in grocery stores, but that doesn’t deter him. While he might take slightly longer than other packers to complete his work, he always gets the job done. Because he works two days a week, he still has time for his family and friends.
But work days are special days that this gent looks forward to. He so loves interacting with the customers and doing a good day’s work that he’s delighted to carry on doing his job. In fact, he says he’s going to work until he drops dead. Keep on truckin’, Bennie.