Maine Quirks

Every state or area has its own little quirks. Here are some of the ones I’ve discovered here in Maine.

The Maine Department of Transportation (DOT) has a warped sense of humor. Road signage — especially for visitors — is vital. The DOT recognizes this. They are very good at posting road signs … about a tenth to a quarter mile before the turn. When you actually get to the intersection — which is usually more than a four way — the signs vanish. You have to scan all possible roads in the hopes another sign is visible. Often they are not. I went about 20 miles out of my way en route to Skowhegan — twice — via different routes  because of these vanishing signs and totally lost Maine 7 {a familiar road number} in Belfast after apparently failing to backtrack my steps correctly from my trip to Marshall Point Lighthouse.

maine_road_sign_poster-rb3b012514f134f43a76eb792efc5c2d2_wv0_8byvr_512I naturally stopped to ask two guys in a store parking lot if they knew where 7 was. They shrugged, weren’t from around there. I asked another woman. She shrugged and in a French-Canadian voice added she was just there for the night. Finally as I tried to backtrack to the last known spot for 7, I spotted a bike patrol officer. He was kind enough to roll to my window, thought for a minute and said, “I should know that … but I don’t. I’ve just been here for about a month. But it’s around here somewhere.”

Okay. Since 7 goes through Belfast, I would have thought someone would have known where it was. Apparently, no one calls it “7” but Church Street or High Street.

Using my native navigational skills, I opted to take a right at the light and as I passed a road, happened to spot a “7” sign on said road. So, I turned around and made it to 7, pretty proud of myself. Of course, when 7 intersected 95 it was slightly north of where I thought I was so I ended up going through Bangor and cutting over on 15 — only another 10 mile or so detour, but that was okay. I rewarded myself with a peanut butter sundae at Dairy Queen and found about the rodeo.

Driving in Maine is challenging as well. For some reason, when people are entombed in their cages of steel they act differently. After the July 4 fireworks, there was a steady stream of cars trying to get out. I wasn’t in a particular hurry, but cars literally were bumper to bumper to NOT allow me access to the traffic stream. I mean bumper to bumper. In fact, twice it was literal bumper to bumper. After about 20 minutes, though, I shifted into my metropolitan New York/New Jersey mode to show these northern rednecks how we get into standstill traffic.

And they don’t know how to respond to gestures of kindness. I was stopped at a traffic light blocking entrance to a store when a truck approached and put on his blinker. Since no one was behind me, I backed up to allow him access. It took him minutes {okay, seconds} to figure out what I had done and had this really confused look on his face.

However, if you’re walking and trying to cross the street, cars will stop whether you’re in a crosswalk or not.

familyWhich brings me to most endearing qualities of Maine life … the people. Outside their cars, they are the friendliest people I have ever met. It is not unusual for someone to stop and have a conversation with you — even as a complete stranger — on the street, in a store, in a restaurant or at an event like the rodeo. Nobody is a stranger. I asked a woman in the grocery store where the spices were. She not only walked me to the section, but told me there were smaller — and cheaper — sizes at Shaw’s.

While I was at the rodeo, a guy brought pizza for his family, then tapped me on the shoulder to ask if I wanted a slice. Doc, I had already eaten so I graciously declined … but it was the start of a real conversation. Complete strangers have come up to me at the Foxcroft Academy Pancake Breakfast and Piscataquis RiverWalk celebration. They didn’t leave as strangers. When I ordered a doughboy for the road that rodeo night, I casually mentioned how busy the food truck had been. I received a review of the day’s receipts, what was selling, what flubbed and what they were having for dinner that night.

Another quirky thing — and this is also a positive wrapped around a negative — is the absence of cell and smart phones by youngsters. Sure, the teens have them — although I don’t how much service they actually have — but the pre-teens didn’t have little appendages stuck in their fingers or nestled in a back pocket. They actually play on playgrounds and talk to each other. They enjoy riding their bikes and playing makeshift baseball. Yes, I’ve seen people talking on phones here, but I don’t think I’ve heard a ringtone in the past year. It’s kind of refreshing.

welcome_to_maine_sign_sticker-rb4252b5b683a4c4ba9d5026269b23f27_v9wxo_8byvr_324That leads to another incident, also at the rodeo. A father was talking to his son about some technical maneuver in the ring. The boy said — are you ready for this? — “I’ll have to go to the library and check that out.”

Life is different in Maine … for the better in my opinion … life the way it should be.


THOUGHT TO REMEMBER: What if we looked into the eyes of the outcast and the loner instead of looking through the eyes of society.

About wisdomfromafather

I'm just an ordinary guy walking along the journey of life.
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