On the Ropes - Tom Roper

On the Ropes - Tom Roper

Get a job and become a contributing member of society

Tom recounts his own story of finding his working career

My mother had plans for me. Along the route I had taken her old clock apart for repair. OK, I am going to admit those Swiss watchmakers are a bit smarter than I will ever be.

No, it would not go back together and, oddly enough, I had a few spare parts. Mom’s answer for that dilemma was always “don’t worry, Ken will fix it.”

That used to bother me. That cotton pickin’ Ken even married my sister.

Anyway, Mom always thought I could hold a conversation, somewhat like her, and she decided I was going to be a lawyer or a TV evangelist.

My perspective seemed a little different. I was a kid cowboy and all I needed was some land and a horse and all would be good. Right out of high school my buddy Randy and I headed to the Cariboo for a job my dad said would be available at the Hendricks Mine on Boss Mountain out of 100 Mile House. We hitchhiked up and after several adventures we arrived at the gate. The boss, who had never heard of my dad’s arrangement told us to hit the road.

Well, what now? The 108 Ranch had just been purchased by Block Brothers and a big development was taking place. We went to the ranch and inquired about a job. The foreman said nothing was available and I thought “what the heck” obviously he missed the development announcement. I looked at his shop and said, how about you let us clean the shop, see how we work and if you like us, you can hire us.

So that was it, no turning back. We got the job, $2 an hour plus room and board. We spent the summer fencing, branding calves, picking up hay and I was in my element.

The only issue was the pay, a little low and the work hours a lot long. We met the two real cowboys Sonny and Wade and they had a program set up for themselves. Work hard all week, pick up your cheque, head to town on the weekend, get drunk, spend all your money and repeat. This did not seem to work for me.

So back to college to think this over and the next summer I was on the road again to meet some friends working north of Prince George at a mill owned by The Pas Lumber. This was better money, piling 18-foot 2 x 10s on the green chain, but the work was tough.

Then it happened, a burner chain broke, everyone headed off to hide and I went to see if I could help. Eat your heart out Ken, I can fix things as long as it only includes two parts. Heat the link, bend it to fit and weld.

It would be a couple years later that I got the opportunity to start at Endako mine as a heavy duty mechanic apprentice and the rest is history.

What I am saying is, you can get a job, man or woman. You need a job to provide for yourself and become a contributing member of this society we are so lucky to be a part of.

Please drop me an email tr.ranch@hotmail.com or call 250-877-1806 Thanks Tom