It was time to stop the cowboy – Estes Park Trail-Gazette

I’m glad we’re hearing more about trade schools, on-the-job training, internships, and other ways to find jobs that don’t require years of schooling. It’s hard to repay huge college loans, but I don’t think anyone who’s never been to college should be told they have to repay college loans.

I became a respiratory therapist after leaving the ranch. I moved to Helena, Montana, where there were a few more opportunities than in my hometown. I didn’t know what I wanted to do, but I realized that a cowboy, unless he could marry the boss’s daughter or start raising his own cattle, wouldn’t earn much. I loved the job, but the boss didn’t have a daughter and I was too ugly to find a rich girlfriend.

Every morning, I was the first person at the national employment agency. I took any type of job, hoping to find something that interested me. I drove a school bus, moved furniture, dug a few ditches, did janitorial work, and kept myself busy. My income was barely keeping me alive.

The employment service was contacted by telephone by various companies. Each counselor checked the job board and informed the potential worker of what was available. Once in a while, a “runner” would come to his office and leave a note indicating a new job.

That morning the counselor told me he hadn’t heard anything new and made me wait while he looked at the job board. Otherwise, I would just have to go back to my part-time job. While he was gone, a runner passed by and dropped a note on his desk.

I looked at the note. He said a local hospital was looking for someone to train, on the job, as an inhalation therapist. He added that it was a new paramedic specialty and an opportunity to enter the ground floor of a new and growing profession. I thought it looked like a good job, with a future. I folded the paper carefully and slipped it into my pocket. The counselor returned with nothing new to report. I said thank you, went to my sister’s house, where I was temporarily living, and put on the only “nice” clothes I had.

The head of personnel at the hospital asked me to wait until the head of inhalation therapy could interview me. He and I had a good conversation. A week or two later he called and asked if I was still interested and if so I could start the following Monday. After a few days of work he told me that for some reason I was the only candidate.

I loved the job and spent many years in what later became Respiratory Therapy. I became Chief Respiratory Therapist for Montana Inhalation Therapy Services. I supervised the RT departments of the seven hospitals under contract.

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