The maintenance worker’s main duty is replacing light bulbs and he is receiving recognition for his long service this week.
Jim says he doesn’t have one negative memory from his four decades of service.
“My most vivid memories are of the staff. It’s like one big, huge family,” says Jim. “Oh people had conflicts now and then. Who doesn’t? But the amount of great people here outnumber the conflicts, by far.”
Jim first started working in hospital when he was 19 years old. It was 1979 and “Grease” was the movie of the year.
“I was visiting my sister in hospital and thought to myself, 'Man, I’m going to get a job here,'” he says. “There's a real dedication from the medical profession to help those in need.”
He first started working in the diet kitchens in each ward and, through the years, moved to gardening and housekeeping management. Looking back, he’s seen many changes.
“The nurses back then wore the little caps. It was very formal,” he says. “There were lots of military, operating elevators, at the info booth and working in security with their uniforms and shiny black boots. Everywhere I look, I have a memory here.”
He says there was a pool, gym, basketball court and recreational athletic area where the Teck Acute Care Centre is now. There was a movie theatre that held a weekly movie night, popular with war veterans.
“They were allowed one can of beer and one cigarette,” Jim says. “Back then, everybody smoked.”
Jim enjoyed helping patients and often showed kids magic tricks for fun. He also recalls disasters, including a broken water main on campus that flooded the receiving dock and everyone pitched in to clean it up.
Jim even appeared driving a garbage tractor on the TV series “The X-Files” when it was filmed at the hospitals in the ‘90s.
“I got paid $25 an hour to sit all day and wait for my part. My part was a three-minute drive across the scene, so that was fun,” he says. “They used a vacant room in the old Jean Matheson building (now the Healthy Minds Centre) and put cocoa powder and water on the walls to make them look like dirty prison walls.”
He even says light bulbs have come a long way. “Some of them looked like ostrich eggs!” he says.
Jim may be looking at retirement soon. He treasures spending time with his family, including his son who is an urban planner at the City of Vancouver and his daughter, who just got married and works as a social worker in Vancouver.
But, he says, he can wait a little longer. “I really enjoy my job. All it takes is just a smile when you work and it makes you enjoy your day.”