Coming to America 1


The Welcoming Committee:
I had completed the college requirements to be a Registered Nurse in Toronto Canada, and was looking forward to my first nursing position.

Unfortunately a hiring freeze was in effect for area hospitals and my graduating class was facing a bleak job market. I was nineteen and one of the youngest graduates in my class. A poor college student, I was ready to start making some cold, hard cash.

The light at the end of the tunnel appeared when a group of nurse recruiters from Fort Smith, Arkansas arrived at our nursing school. They regaled our graduating class with facts, figures and a slide presentation that showed nurses water skiing, disco dancing and sunbathing.

We were hooked.

The ‘sunbathing’ part was the biggest draw as we Canadian nurses typically spent six months of the year in snow and another three months in rain.

Twenty-six of us signed up to work at Sparks Regional Medical Center on the spot. We had no idea where Fort Smith was - but it was in “the states” and the weather had to be a whole lot better.

Our flight to Fort Smith was in August and included three airplane changes. I suppose that should have clued me into what could lay ahead of us but my nineteen-year-old “city-fied’ brain only had visions of handsome men in three piece suits, Wall Street, palm trees. Rodeo Drive and cocktails in fancy glasses.

As the plane was preparing to land in Fort Smith, we were looking out the window of our aircraft and could see nothing but trees. "What did we get ourselves into?” Stepping out of the airplane, the blanket of heat was like no other I’ve ever experienced.

We had never stepped onto a “tarmac” before and (for some unknown reason) really got a kick out of it.

Hospital representatives from Nursing, Dietary, Housekeeping, etc. were waiting for us and standing in a receiving line began introducing themselves. Soon, we were traveling with them to our new apartment complex, “The El Conquistador”.

As we approached "El Con" - we couldn't help but notice the numbers of people lining the driveway with lawn chairs and beer coolers, ‘horseshoe’ games in full tilt. Apparently, they had been waiting for our arrival. They were all men and we were the attraction. Word had gotten out that twenty-six single Canadian nurses were arriving and it looked as though every single guy within a fifty-mile radius was there to check us out.  Part 2: The Welcoming Committee

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