Manitoba

'Best time of my life, I spent it here': Winnipeg parking attendant retires after 33 years on the job

Bhupinder "Bob" Dhaliwal was a fixture at the Cityplace parkade for over three decades, greeting drivers every day.

Over 3 decades, Bhupinder 'Bob' Dhaliwal got to know many of the people who used the Cityplace parkade by name

Bhupinder 'Bob' Dhaliwal is retiring from the parking attendant job he's held at the Cityplace parkade on Hargrave Street since 1987. (Marjorie Dowhos/CBC)

Not many people can say they've been working at the same job for 33 years, but not many people are like Bhupinder Dhaliwal.

The 66-year-old Winnipegger has been working at the same downtown parkade most of his adult life.

"I started January 1987. I enjoy it every single day," says Dhaliwal. "I had a good time."

Bob, as he is known to many of the drivers he got to know personally who park at Cityplace Lot 1, retired from his job with Impark at the end of February. He said he decided now was the right time to leave, since the parking company has installed new self-serve machines.

However, Dhaliwal isn't bitter at all. In fact, he says he was happy step away from a job he's loved for over three decades.

"They don't need booth attendants in here. Customers got more options to pay by credit card, in the system, and it's a sign of the times. They have to improve, right?" Dhaliwal said.

"I'm happy, so no regrets.… Best time of my life, I spent it here."

WATCH | Bhupinder 'Bob' Dhaliwal reflects on 33 years on the job

Bhupinder "Bob" Dhaliwal is retiring from his job as a parking attendant after 33 years. 2:49

Dhaliwal isn't your average parking attendant. For years, he greeted drivers as they came in and asked them about their day when they left to go home. He says he got to know the people who regularly parked in the building by their first names, and got to know others who lived or worked in the area, even if they didn't use the parkade.

He felt so passionate about his job, he says, he would even go beyond his duties, like clearing snow off car windows while people worked or maintaining the lot.

"I did all kinds of odd jobs here — cleaning, doing car windows. Like, in those days there were no Bobcats to do the snow cleaning, so I'm the only Bob there was here."

Dhaliwal, who says he always felt safe working at the downtown parkade on Hargrave Street just south of Portage Avenue, says he's grateful to his employer and all the kind people he's gotten to know over the years.

New self-serve parking meters were installed at Cityplace parkade on Hargrave Street at the end of February. (Warren Kay/CBC)

On Dhaliwal's last day, drivers were getting out of their cars to say goodbye, giving him hugs, honking their horns as they drove by.  

Christal Brar parked at the lot for over a year and got to know Dhaliwal, before she moved to another lot. She dropped off coffee and treats after learning from her co-worker that he was leaving his post.

"He was so helpful and so friendly. I was new to Winnipeg, so it was just like a friendly face at the beginning of work and the end of work. So it breaks my heart he's leaving," said Brar. "It's sad to see him go."

Christal Brar brought Dhaliwal coffee and snacks on his last day of work. Brar parked in Dhaliwal's lot for over a year, and says the attendant was one of the nicest people she met after moving to Winnipeg. (Warren Kay/CBC)

Dhaliwal got a card and a pair of tickets to a Winnipeg Jets game from the employees at True North, who often use the parkade.

"For me, I work differently than other attendants," he said. "I want people to not take their job so seriously.… Enjoy the job. Like what you're doing."

As for the future, he says he's going to enjoy his retirement and possibly help out at his son's restaurant.

"So hopefully he will give me a job," Dhaliwal joked. "But I have to apply there too, right?"

About the Author

Marjorie Dowhos is the host of CBC Manitoba's Radio Noon. Marjorie joined CBC Manitoba in 2010 and has worked as a reporter and as host of CBC Winnipeg News at 11. Prior to that, she spent four years in Thunder Bay, Ont., as a TV news anchor.

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