I came to work at Baddeck Marine by chance.
You see, I’m not a boater. Even though I grew up in Baddeck, sailing capital of the island, I never took sailing lessons, and never really spent much time out on boats. I liked them well enough, and knew the difference between a sailboat and a powerboat, but they weren’t really a part of my life.
So how did I come to be the store manager at Baddeck Marine, a private marina and boat repair shop? Well, three years ago, I was working at the Baddeck Library, part time, and loving it.
However, the position I held was only 10 hours a week. Even though I lived at home with my mother, I still had bills to pay, and so 10 hours a week just wasn’t going to cut it. But I really loved working at the library – you might have guessed I’m a bookworm – and so I started looking around for another part-time job to help me make my car payments. I figured I’d do anything, clean toilets or work at Tim Hortons or whatever was available, so that I could keep the library job that I liked so much.
Just down the street was a marina. I was friends with one of their employees (hi Flossie!!), so one day I asked her if they needed someone part-time behind the desk.
“It’s funny you should ask,” she said, “Because we’re looking for a Store Manager. Full time.”
I applied. I remember in the interview, when Stuart asked me if I had any marine industry experience, I said, “Absolutely none!” and we both laughed. But, I said, I was a quick learner and passionate about communications and customer service.
Long story short, they hired me. At first I tried to work both the 10 hours at the library, and the 40 hours at the marina, but it soon got to be too much, so I quit being a Library Clerk, and continued being a Store Manager.
I never thought I’d enjoy it as much as I do. I’m still not a boater, but I have a much deeper understanding of the boating industry, of the trials and tribulations, and joys, of owning a boat.
I get to spend my workdays by the Bras d’Or Lakes, although it’s mostly behind a counter with a view of the street, so it’s not as glamourous as it sounds. I meet all kinds of interesting folks from all over Cape Breton and all around the world. And I’ve learned a lot about running a business.
Mind you, at first it was quite the learning curve, as I had to learn about parts like impellers and lightbulbs, belts and filters, but I got the hang of it and now I can order parts like a whiz.
You just never know what will come from trying something new, and from pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone! I do think that in order to make a life in Cape Breton – or any economically-depressed area, really – you’ve got to be resourceful and you’ve got to be able to do lots of different things, work-wise. The good news is, we’re all capable of learning.