In a small Maine town practically everyone does know your name.
Fewer people living in the small population rural regions of Maine means no one gets lost in the shuffle. Most of us travel in the same circles. Things get down quicker with Dave and the sling shot efficiency too. Because there is a familiarity that leaves no one in the dark. Today’s routine of getting a large black coffee before starting the day proves that.
I swing in to McDonald’s and there is just enough space, one car length to get the rear end of the Jeep out of the lane of traffic that would side swipe it otherwise. I’m thinking why not just pull in to a parking space, trot in and be out way way before the tail end of this wagon train gets to the drive through pick up window.
I hit the McDonald’s lobby, not needing a happy meal or breakfast burrito.
First guy I see is Snookie Bossie, an old snow sledding buddy. Friend and classmate of my oldest brother Stephen who told me if you are in Canada and get in a rumble, Snookie and the older Roger Howland are the two you need for protection to race back to the border. Snook prefers you call him Will but good luck shaking that novel, unique a high school nickname. How many Snookie’s have you known in your life time? Snook grins, asks where I am preaching today? Likes my matching suit.
I smile and tell him no funerals, no sermon or services today but have an action packed real estate day ahead of me. Five closings last week in one day was a proud achievement but I tell him Robin, my secretary of twenty years gets the credit. More a business partner than an assistant. Elliot, my youngest as a full time single Dad was not even two when Robin signed on to the payroll.
Then I think as Snookie smiles, hey wait a minute.
He trained my secretary who worked at Ward Log Cabin 20 years ago. Robin said he was a boss that wanted it done right, or do it over. She liked that and does not like messing up, not getting it done right. Other secretaries in the pool did not take so fondly for his business like, right is right attitude. Robin embraced it, did not take it personally when criticized. It’s like conflict resolutions, focus on the problem, don’t attack the person.
Then Arnold Bulley who is a manager at McDonald’s says hello, waves on the way, zipping by behind the counter. David Grant, a friend of an older brother Jonathan and classmate of 1967 grabs my elbow and says hello on the way out. He has the day off from defending the US / Canadian border today. Snookie is “chalmerizing” his wife’s car, a loving gesture in his retirement. While waiting for it to warm up, go for a motorcycle ride.
Any one outside Houlton Maine would wonder what the heck “chalmerize” means.
Chalmer Karnes is or was the best car detailer in the business. And if there was a world series or Olympics for auto detailing, my money would be on the Chalmer of years ago. When he was in his prime.
Silver haired, always smiling Paul Callnan, a CPA wanders by with a breakfast tray and I figure he is taking the needed “you deserve a break today” after tax season.
Know him well through service in Rotary.
Rode on the same Houlton Maine yellow school bus lucky number thirteen growing up. Was at the University of Maine at Orono in the same freshman dorm Aroostook a few years back before joining TKE fraternity. Moving out and being on the north end of the UMO campus. No longer at the extreme south end to walk to a cold winter 8 AM college class with a strong breeze and no black flies in the dead of winter in Maine.
And then the large, careful it’s hot hot black coffee I trotted in for is handed to me.
Without asking me is this your order. Because the lady on the drive through sees me, knows what I am after. And with NASCAR efficiency delivers it. All done with in just a few minutes. The drive back to the Maine real estate office is a quarter mile, does not take ten minutes like a city.
Thinking nothing of it, I left the Darth Vadar black jeep running, unlocked when I hopped out. Parked it at McDonalds. Keys in it. XM percolating, purring out of the speakers. Did not have to worry the 4WD SUV would be gone when I came out with my steaming cup of Joe. Or it being up on jack stands with the tires and wheels missing. Or other parts evaporated, air wrenched off by any five finger discount gang members. Who shop religiously at Midnight Auto Supply.
We don’t have those events happening in the 46th lowest state for crime, Maine.
Things on the crime scanner are pretty tame. Instead of worrying about your personal safety you put the energy into improving the area. To help collectively to make things happening around you better than it was.
Living in small Maine towns is friendly, helpful, healthy.
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Cary Library is one of many local jewels, gems that make Houlton Maine special. Small Maine town living is special and everyone is connected for the common good.