Living in Maine as a Black person

Next month will mark 7 years that I have been in Maine, some days I feel like I should get some sort of badge for surviving that long but generally when I feel that way its just an off day. The truth is that once you get over the initial culture shock, Maine is not a bad place to live.

I can honestly say that I know my neighbors here far better than I ever knew any of them in Chicago, Mainers are an odd bunch, in many cases they don’t say much and have a tendency to keep to themselves. Yet in a pinch when you need a neighbor they are there for you. Case in point, as I have written before, my neighbor across the street 9 out of 10 times in a large snow storm will plow us out. I have never asked but its always a welcomed surprise to wake up and see that I don’t have to manually shovel a foot of snow. In the summer they often bring over a treat for my daughter when they see us out in the yard, we did reciprocate this fall by sharing our apple picking bounty over to them.

If you saw my neighbors, you would think they probably don’t speak to folks like me and while I doubt I will ever engage them on their political views, they are decent folks from what I can see.  Last summer a local Dominican family tragically lost their teenage son in a river drowning and folks came out to help the family, its that type of shit that makes me remember why I don’t mind living here.

Even my Black friends who live in smaller towns here where they are the only Black person, generally don’t encounter any hassles once folks know you live in town and see you around. I will be honest though and say I couldn’t live in a town smaller than where I live since 16,000 folks is pretty small to my Chicago brain.

All this to say, I still don’t understand Negroes who come to Maine intent on wrong doing, this storybroke last night, now in last night’s story they showed a picture of the alleged suspect and sorry to say he was Black. Look going to a lilly white town and breaking into someone’s house is a sure enough way to get your ass caught. For real, Maine is a small state, only 1.5 million folks in the whole damn state and folks of color and that is combining all of us make up less than 10% of the population so you ought to know if you fuck up and do something shady, your ass is going to get caught.

In my time here, I have noticed an increase in folks trying to come up here and doing shady shit, obviously it pisses me off. When we first moved here the big crime story would be some white boy robbing an convenience store with a knife, I admit that sort of shit used to make me laugh especially in my first year here. Robbing someone with a knife? That shit would not work back in Chicago at all. Yet as the years past, I have noticed the crimes getting more dangerous and scary and sadly at times more folks of color as the alleged suspects.

Now as a sista living in Maine raising my family, that shit distresses me to no end but also reminds me that such stupidity can make it harder for the rest of us trying to just live our lives in peace and quiet. As for Mr Bennett, the alleged suspect I suspect he better watch his ass while he is in the joint.

As for me, well I just plan on doing what I do which is to live my life.

Hardy Mainers? I think not

Today we have yet another snow storm, of course being that it is winter time and winter in Maine, I expect snow.  Problem is any time it snows it seems like everything in this damn state shuts down and frankly I am tired of it, look I come from Chicago so I am used to snow and cold but look schools and stores don’t close at the drop of a hat back home.

Shit, I can count the times growing up we had a snow day, and that is on one hand. Yet here in Maine, let it snow six inches and add some ice and shit is closed. Even the damn restaurants close…um, look when you stuck at home with nothing to do, you like to get a treat from the outside world. If I ran an eating establishment I would be open but that’s just me.

However native Mainers like to run around as if they are the hardiest folks on the planet. When we first moved here people would ask were the winters too harsh for me up here? Um, no. I rarely even wear full winter gear because aside from the snow and ice storms, the average winter temperature seems a lot warmer than Chicago where a sista had all kinds of long underwear, hats and winter gear. The wind in Chicago didn’t play and I used to live right near Lake Michigan.

Look to my fellow Mainers truth is, I think some of ya’ll are a tad wimpy when it comes to the weather. Some years ago back in Chicago, we had an early March snowstorm that dropped 18 inches of snow and it was my first day at a new job and I was expected to get to the gig. Nothing was closed, hell I waited out in freezing blizzard conditions for 45 mins for a bus to take to downtown Chicago, got to the gig late and the boss was actually salty about it. He had no mercy on me and the fact that there was 18 inches of snow, there was a job to be done. Needless to say I often feel the same way these days about snow, so what? You can’t stop living because its snowing.

Anyway its another snow storm, thankfully the grocery store was open so I am all stocked up and hopefully can get to work tomorrow if we are open.

Wally where are thou?

So this weekend in my little town brought yet another storm, thankfully this time it was snow but it was a lot of snow, there is well over 20 inches of snow in my yard. Unlike my hearty Maine neighbors I am a cheapskate and have never bought a snow blower or any type of of snow removal implement other than an old fashioned shovel. Needless to say when we have the nasty storms that dump over a feet of snow, I am often praying that my neighbors have mercy and spread some neighborly love and plow us out.

Sometimes they do and sometimes they don’t…enter Wally. See, Wally is the ole school hustler that I never expected to see in a place like Maine. He is the white version of the guy’s in my Granny’s old neighborhood in Chicago. Guys who don’t work 9-5’s instead doing odd and end jobs to get by and maybe even some things I don’t want to know. The Wally’s of the world tend to look a little rough around the edges, in this case Wally is probably not much older than me and the spousal unit, however he looks like he has lead a hard life.

I met Wally last winter when after a particularly brutal storm, he knocked on my door and offered to shovel, he was with another man and they only had one shovel. So he asked if he could use my shovel, despite my common sense I said yes, well Wally and homie did a bang-up shovel job for a mere $20 in less time than either the hubby or I usually do. After paying him, he asked could they use the other shovel while they went around the area trying to drum up more work, he promised to bring it back.

Well I said yes and the hubster figured we would never see that shovel again, but hours later after making some cash, Wally brought my shovel back and I have used him ever since for large storms. I must say that I don’t mind shoveling but when there is over a foot of snow, my enthusiasm tends to wane since at that point shoveling ceases to be relaxing and becomes hard work.

So what’s wrong with Wally the hustler? Only issue I have is he shows up early in the morning, I am talking before 7 am and I am not a morning person. Once Wally woke me up at 6 am….I don’t have a job that requires me to get up that early and ringing my bell that early is a guarantee that mini-me will wake up which is what I don’t want. So I have to remind him don’t come so early.

Which brings me to this morning, I woke up at 6:15 am figuring I would be up when Wally rang, well it seems I missed Wally based off the footsteps at the door when I went downstairs at 6:20. So when a young man not much older than elder boy came knocking at 6:45 offering to shovel, I said yes. Today is a busy day, and the spousal unit’s knees have been bugging him and frankly I am not in the mood to shovel my way out the driveway.

Um, how come when I told young man what I normally pay he looked at me like I was crazy. See, Wally does my driveway and walkway for $20, and when he has his partner they normally get it done in less than 20 mins. Now doing the math, that’s not bad money considering that by the end of a morning they probably get at least 10 houses and with a 50-50 split, not bad at all for not even a half day’s worth of work.

Well young hustler was looking like I had given him an indecent proposal, so since I only had a crispy $20 bill and wasn’t about to head to the ATM for more cash, I asked him to do the driveway and part of the walkway for $20. 30 mins later, while we can get the car our the drivewaym I still have to shovel a path to the car since young hustler apprently didn’t think it was a good idea to shovel at least a small path to the car from my door.

Damn, even young hustlers are lacking in work ethics these days…see the reason the Wally’s of the world get by is they know when its time to bust a sweat, instead young blood figured he was going to get some easy cash.

Anyway at least I am not trapped in the house and can start my day, but Wally where are thou? Don’t leave me hanging again.