Sammy was the first person I met when arriving in Petty Harbour.
Most of the arrangements with the Petty Harbour FIsherman's Co-op had been made while I was still in BC. They were our landlords. So when I finally showed up, Sammy had been assigned the Aquarium liaison by the Fisherman's Co-op.
I had borrowed Kaylen's car, our board chair, and drove myself down to the most stunning harbour around. I remember coming around the bend, seeing the big blue ocean pop up from around the corner and I had one of those "this is actually happening", "I can't believe I'm here" moments!
When I pulled up in the Co-op parking lot in Kaylen's little Honda Fit and saw Sammy there mulling about, I was 3 minutes late. He came over looking slightly impatient. He immediately made fun of the car and introduced himself.
You could tell he was confused by what the hell a young girl from BC was doing down on the wharf in Petty Harbour, trying to get a mini aquarium going in an empty filleting room.
He showed me around and told me stories about the Co-op and the by's, the boats and the fishery. We spent about two hours together. I showed him our sketches and plans, our budget and our timeline. He thought I was mad.
Before we parted ways that day, I took this selfie of us. It was Sammy's very first selfie. I wanted the Co-op sign to be in the background which meant looking directly into the sun - hence why Sammy's eyes are closed. The caption read "Sam Lee and Me. Sam is one of the founding members of the Petty Harbour Fisherman's Co-op, where the Mini Aquarium will be housed. He is best kind." Best kind is a common phrase meaning they are the best kind of person. Sammy became Ruby, my partner on the project, and I's closest confidant, advisor and friend. We brought him on to be our Renovation Lead along with the one and only Steve Miller. We used all of his tools. We broke and lost some (many) of them. Together they made the white room turn into an aquarium. Like the TED talk indicates, Sammy became our best customer, coming by the aquarium almost daily. He would say he was just going to the co-op to check on the boats and the by's - but we know the truth. He would bring his grandchildren by to splash around in the exhibits. Evan, who I speak of in my talk as well, was our youngest volunteer. He happened to be riding by on his scooter and I put him to work measuring and drawing out chalk lines where the tanks would go on the floor. Evan also did the honors of cutting the kelp on the grand opening day and was then interviewed on CBC in a hilarious interview where he explains that he learned that "sea cucumbers breath through their butts". Sammy and his family were Members, giving them free admission whenever they wanted. They came regularly especially when visitors were in town or when it was rainy. A real family affair.
Sammy came to our rescue on more occasions then I can count. He is like no one I have ever known. We were very lucky to have Sammy on our team, literally and figuratively. We owe Sammy and the whole Petty Harbour Fisherman's Co-op Community so much for the success the Mini Aquarium.
Do you think Sammy is "best kind"? please like and share this post. With deep blue gratitude - Melanie