“The zoo’s spokesperson at the time was talking to the media, giving a monotone and boring description of a project I was closely involved with,” says Magill, who has worked at Zoo Miami (formerly Miami Metrozoo) for more than 30 years. “And I kind of took over and started telling the media what they wanted to hear. I was excited about it and they started talking to me rather than our spokesperson.”
After being reprimanded for speaking to the media, which didn’t fall in his job description as assistant curator, Magill nevertheless ended up as communications director.
“[The zoo’s founding director] Robert Yokel said, ‘The media likes you. You know what you’re talking about. So, from now on you’re the official spokesperson,’” he recalls.
Magill knows he’s lucky to do a job he loves.
“It’s the greatest scam,” he says with a smile. “I get paid to do things that people pay to do. I’ve traveled to Africa more than 40 times, Central and South America over 50 times. I’ve tracked elephants in the Serengeti. It’s incredible.”
Walking through the Publix deli on Le Jeune Road, most customers will hear someone trying to grab Aldo Vazquez’s attention.
The 53-year-old, who was born in Santa Clara, Cuba, brings a positive attitude to work every day, a rule he has lived by for the nine years he has worked at the deli. And his happiness is infectious.
“Our customers seek out Aldo because they know they will receive superior service from a knowledgeable associate who always has a smile on his face,” store manager Shane Nelson said.
After moving to the United States from Cuba, where he was a science teacher, Vazquez worked at Florida Environmental Care, a landscaping company, for two years. But when he heard about the supermarket chain, he decided to apply. One week later, he found out he had the job.
“I love it all, I love my job,” Vazquez says. “My favorite part is assisting the customers. I think they know who I am because of the respect and sincerity I treat them with. I respect my job and my customers are my job.”
And considering his reputation with customers, Vazquez’s approach is working.
“It’s funny because I’ll be skating around my neighborhood and they’ll stop and say hello,” he laughs. “I’ve received invitations to wedding anniversaries and other occasions. I’ve even had coffee with some customers.”
His people-friendly attitude makes Vazquez stand out, even if he is having a bad day.
“Working is very important to me because it’s how I support my family,” he said. “So when I leave my house, my problems stay there. With this job, I talk to people all day, so bringing happiness with me to work is very important.”
Cathy Szalva’s main job requirement is to love animals.
“If I didn’t love animals, I’d be in trouble,” she says.
Szalva, the receptionist at Laura’s Classy Canines, has developed a bond with pets and their owners at the grooming shop.
“I’m the person everyone talks to and sees when they come in,” she says. “It’s funny because when I first started here, I’d answer the phone and they’d always ask for my sister, Laura, who owns the shop. Now she’ll answer the phone and she’ll hear, ‘Oh, can I speak to Cathy?’”