It’s a very good day when you stop living your plan B and start living your plan A.
That’s how electrician Evan Maxwell describes his pre- and post-Aquarium lives. He had been working as an electrician in an industrial capacity, working in food and car rim factories, but he says he had a nagging feeling that “it didn’t have a lot of meaning – it was just a job.” To make up for that, he started volunteering at the Vancouver Aquarium in 2007.
Evan started volunteering as a gallery educator. It made sense to share his love of nature with others; after all, he had great memories of playing in a forest near his backyard in Montreal where he grew up. It was also important to him that he was doing something with a positive impact on others. After volunteering for about seven months, he noticed a posting for the electrician job tacked on the wall in a hallway, “And I thought, why not try?”
Evan describes the Aquarium as an “iceberg” – with what visitors actually see being just the tip of it. He’s an integral part of the behind-the-scenes stuff, making sure that the lights are on in the galleries and that nothing’s broken, that exhibits are functioning properly and that circuits are not tripped. Despite scuttling around all day and ticking off his list of work orders, he says, “I’m constantly reminded that there’s a bigger purpose to all of this and that it’s a privilege to have all of this in our lives.”
When he tells people that he’s an electrician, Evan says the reaction he gets is “Oh” and the conversation ends right there. But when he adds that he’s an electrician at the Vancouver Aquarium, “It’s more like “’Ohhhhhh!’ And then I’ll be there chatting for the next hour.” He doesn’t mind though, that just comes with having a plan A kind of job.
Written by Karen Horak, writer-editor, content and digital experience at the Vancouver Aquarium.