Monday, August 19, 2013
Regular Folks Aren't Regular Any More
The Quoddy footwear factory in Lewiston, Maine.
Lewiston's about forty-five minutes southeast of here. Maybe an hour. There's no "hammer lane," so if you get caught behind a log truck, you're stuck.
Lewiston and Auburn are on opposite sides of the Androscoggin. People in Maine refer to them as "L.A." If I want to go to a Home Depot, I have to drive to L. A. I rarely do. Auburn's considered a very little tonier than Lewiston, for reasons that escape me.
Lewiston's kinda ugly. What's old is run down and what's new is crummy. But everything's relative, I guess. People are generally friendly and easy-going in Maine, wherever you go. Crime's essentially non-existent in Maine. There's mischief, if you're interested.
People used to live in Lewiston because they worked in mills along the river. The mills closed down, and without work, people lose hope. Their job becomes to simply exist, and pull a lever for whoever promises to throw a few bucks their way. They fill up the schools with their fatherless children and the courts with their quotidian disputes. There's no dignity in being a regular person anymore.
I like regular people. Or more to the point, I've always found regular people interesting. Not to talk to as much as to observe. The fellow in the video has a great sense of self-possession, and obvious pride in his work. He is skilled. A man who is skilled is respected -- by his peers, at least. To a regular person, the respect of your peers is more important than the attention of the general public.
People develop a mordant sense of self-parody when things get bleak. Lewiston, without work, is just The Dirty Lew: (some foul language)
"She's got more diseases than a New York pigeon." Awesome.