Montana Jones

Montana n: A state of the northwest United States bordering on Canada. Admitted as the 41st state in 1889. The fourth largest state in the union, it includes vast prairies and numerous majestic mountain ranges.
Syn: Treasure State, Big Sky Country, Last Best Place.

Jones n: slang. An addiction or very deep craving.

Saturday, August 04, 2007


The call came right after I had packed my lunch and was about to head out the door. An employee with a medical problem. One of my worst fears.

Not an accident or an injury, just a toothache with swelling. He can't eat or sleep so that makes it a serious problem in my book. Serious enough to be one of my worst fears, evacuating an employee.

I spent an hour on the phone trying to lay the groundwork. A dozen or more calls and I find a dentist that can see him in five days. I am amazed at the number of dentists that are vacationing right now or refuse to work Fridays; even for emergencies. More communicating. The employee agrees to sit tight for five days. The manager disagrees. She wants him out and cared for right now, today. I'm not in a very good position to second guess this one, so I make some more calls and lay some more groundwork. The walk in clinic can see him today and they could prescribe antibiotics and painkillers until we can get to the dentist. More calls, more communicating. Get on the trail in a half hour and I will shuttle him from the trailhead to the clinic.

More calls. Make sure the rest of the staff is on their tasks and make sure their needs are met. The clock is my nemesis now. I have errands to run, make sure the last minute supplies are picked up and moving. Make sure the gas tank is topped off, there might be a lot of running around to do today. The staff has their jobs covered, all they need is some information and all is well. I hustle to the trail.

He is waiting when I get there. Damn, he made good time getting out. It is a fast pickup but a long drive back to town. "Do you need to stop for anything? Something to eat or a soda or anything? Or should we go straight through to the doctor?"

"Let's just go straight through." No problem.

The clinic is all about the waiting room. It doesn't look busy but the wait is over an hour. We wait. Medical evacuation sounds exciting. It's not. You spend a lot of time waiting. I spent a lot of time worrying. Worrying about the break in the routine and the extra work I will need to do to get back on track. Worrying about the stress that being short manned causes the rest of the team. Worrying because that is my job, to worry about these people. These kids.

When I hired them I agreed to watch out for their wellbeing while they work for me. And now one of them was hurt. There was no way to prevent this. Nothing I could have done or trained them to do would have prevented an infected toothache. Being helpless does not make the worry go away.

Of all the things I have to do in this job, this is the hardest. I have never before been so worried about making a wrong decision. Is this the best medical help I can get? Did I find the right dentist? The most affordable? My employee has no insurance and this adventure will be a serious setback to his summer paycheck. Is this the best I can do? It hurts me in my gut to think about these things.

I followed through with the waiting and the shuttling and the phone calls keeping up with the rest of the staff. By the time I got my employee a bed for the night and pointed the car toward home I was tired. Emotionally exhausted. Tomorrow I will show up for work as cheerfully as I can muster. I don't want to give any of the staff the impression that this is hard. I don't want them to know that I fear this. I want them to know that I will do anything to watch out for them and I don't want them to know that I go home drained because of it.

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