Work is in his blood
‘I’ve never worked away and I’ve never been unemployed’
Robert Couture considers himself to be a pretty lucky Cape Bretoner.
“I’ve never worked away and I’ve never been unemployed,” says the Sydney resident who just retired June 30 from his former position as traffic manager and quality control technician in the blood collections department at the Cape Breton Regional Hospital. He made sure everyone was in the right place at the right time and receiving the proper requested tests.
“My job was to make sure I knew where everyone was at.”
He’s only 55 but he has spent the last 40 years working in hospitals within the local area.
“Way back when I started, I was a 15-year-old kid in the kitchen, July 7, 1975, washing pots after school and on weekends,” said Couture, relaxing on his front step recently. “I started as a 15-year-old kid on a summer job.”
When he finished school in 1977, he began working full-time in the housekeeping department. Later that year, he began training as a nursing orderly and did that until that type of position was phased out of the hospital system.
“I just ended up working in the lab,” he said. ”I went to work one day, and they said the next day, you’re going to the lab. And they trained me there on the job.
“Today you’ve got to have pa- pers but back then, you did what was asked. It didn’t matter what the duty was, you just did it.”
Couture joins his wife Flora who retired in January after 37 years as a licensed practical nurse.
So far, Couture has no big plans for his retirement years but after a lifetime of meeting with as many as 300 people daily, no one should be surprised he hasn’t quite left the working world just yet.
“I’m only 55,” he says, “I’m not a homebody — I like to be busy.”
He’s now working several mornings each week at the Northside General, doing blood work. “I couldn’t ( just stop) — it’s not in my DNA,” he said. “This half-day thing is perfect — a couple of mornings — it gets me out of the house, it gives me a reason to get up.”
He misses the many people he met with on a daily basis.
“I do. I saw 300 people a day for a good number of years. People you see every week, you get to know them and they get to know you.
“I really did (enjoy the work).”
After 40 years working in Cape Breton’s hospital system, Robert Couture is ready to spend more quality time with his family, including pet golden retriever Jesse, who couldn’t be happier.