The Most Likely to Succeed

The Yellow Bench Stories circa 2010/11

Hurricane Irene was here last night, she didn’t leave much rain but her powerful winds are still uprooting trees on Main Street. I said that I would sit at the yellow bench in front of the library come rain or high water that also included power outages and 80 kilometer winds.

The street is empty now except for the Nova Scotia Power work crews. The traffic is minimal and all the shops are shut. Maybe it is a good day to remember the interesting people who would not sit and chat with me as opposed to the many that have over the past 10 months.

Cecil falls into that category. Cecil lives in Hilton but twice a month he passes through our quiet village. No he doesn’t drive up from the Truro area in his own vehicle. No he uses the old fashion method, he hitches a ride. That is how I met him many months ago as I drove past Murphy’s Store in Earltown. I was heading for a one hour Monday session at the Yellow Bench. Cecil with a large smile on his face an even larger canvas bag at his side had his thrum held high, indicating that he needed a lift.

How could I not stop, he definitely had the look of an interesting story to discover.

Cecil it turns out has traveled from Truro to Charlottetown twice a month for 41 years doing the same the job and enjoying every minute of it. “ I clean windows and sharpen knives” he told me. He went on to say that he has 34 regular clients and 3 on a waiting list. All of his washing equipment is supplied by the customer but his knife sharpening output is always in his canvas bag.

You would think that Cecil has a Harvard Business Degree. Hel has a very well managed work schedule. It takes him 5 days and 4 nights to visit his 34 clients. Each pay him a monthly wage but the customers that provide him room a board twice a month get their windows done for half price. The knife sharpening side of his business is the real gravy so to say. Cecil has convinced 26 restaurants and butchers from Truro to Charlottetown to own two sets of knives. Each visit he drops off the sharpen ones and pick up the dull ones for his next week’s assignments back in Hilton.

I was impressed with his Business Plan but it was Cecil work ethic that floored me. He enjoys the career path that he chosen. I asked him a simple question. What have your high school classmates done with their career choices. Cecil’s reply still impresses me. With that infectious smile he simply said

“ Oh several went to college but the majority took what jobs they could find. I guess that they have made the most of it. Sadly a lot them are not happy with how things have work out in life. In my case it was no surprize to me that I was successful. In my final year in High School I was voted Most Likely to Succeed.”

When we reached Tatamagouche I invited him to sit at The Yellow Bench and continue our chat.

As he walk away I realized that he had work to do.

Chatting did not fit into the work plan.

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