Like so many people, I've passed through the gates to The Landing at least a hundred times over the years. It's where I've learned to play pickleball, enjoyed cottage stays, gone for morning runs, eaten pasta, and tried to make sure no one sees my embarrassing short game on the golf course. Yet somehow, neither my truck nor my shoes have ever landed here: at The Landing Marina.

No wonder it's as peaceful as a rocking chair on a weekday morning. By car, the marina sits at the end of a neighborhood backroad. By boat, you idle down a long boot-shaped cover to a series of boat slips tucked into the toe. It's all trees and glass-calm water. The only sound at the hour is the shushing of a push broom on the dock. The planks are nearly perfect, which isn't quite good enough for Marina Manager Massie Ellis.

"Just sweeping up a few leaves," he says.

Massie fits the tenor of the sunrise scene: unassuming and optimistic. He called his mother a few minutes ago.

"I talk with her every morning on my way to work to get my day off to a positive start," he says.

By the time he arrives at the marina, Massie is fully charged, spreading energy to Members while also using it to do his jobs - the plural is intentional. In a nutshell, he's the forklift guy, the maintenance guy, the repair guy, the dockhand, the store clerk, and occasionally the hamburger guy.

"On the Fourth of July, I bring and cook for anyone who wants to chill," he says. "That's the best part of my job: making people happy. And if someone needs to vent for any reason, hey, I'm your guy for that too."

Massie is the marina manager, remember? A few years ago, a guy called to say he was buying a used boat and wanted to store it at The Landing. No problem, except the owner-to-be had never seen the boat for himself. When the delivery crew left it at Massie's feet, he couldn't believe what he saw.

That boat looked like it had been living in the woods," he says. "The new owner took his first look and I could tell he was more than second-guessing his purchase. I told him we’d get it cleaned up for him. That made him happier.”

The work ethic comes from Massie’s parents. When he makes those morning calls to his 67-year-old mother, she’s on her way to work, too — as a therapist for people struggling with substance abuse. His dad, who passed away when Massie was 12, played college football at Tennessee State and served in the military before managing a car dealership.

“He showed me how to take pride in my work for the sake of the customer,” Massie says, standing among the 121 boats he carefully stores in the protective cocoons of the dry stack. “Being around these boats is similar to what my dad did for a living. Sometimes he had to drive a new car for a few days so he could become more familiar with it. He showed me why you need to take better care of it than if it belonged to us.”

Massie points to a red Mastercraft on the second row of boats. “That boat reminds me of a red Audi dad brought home once.” He treats it and every boat at The Landing Marina with equal TLC. The 20-year-old pontoon down that row is just as important to someone as the new Cobalt down this row.

Some of the boat stories might be a little more … interesting than the others. Like the time a guy asked Massie to detail his boat “without getting it wet.”

“I reminded him that we’d need to use water to wash it,” Massie says, still laughing out loud five years later. Another time, he and a marina staffer transformed a boat into showroom gorgeous condition to comply with an “urgent” same-day request. That boat has been sitting like a dog waiting for its owner to take it out for the past two years. When the boat does finally go out, Massie will be there at the dock, with a gentle push-off and a smile.

He’s been spreading joy from the moment in July 2016 when he packed his belongings in Savannah and came to work at Reynolds. Instead of spending his spare time on TikTok, he took online mechanic classes, peppered boat techs with questions, and willingly detailed boats that might — or might not — be used anytime soon.

He also volunteered to run evening boat shuttles across the lake, cruising along with soft jazz to set a certain mood: a positive one. “I love being here,” Massie says, “and I want others to love it as much as I do.”

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