Some weeks ago, a lobsterman who had lived and fished Downeast died, so his brother went out to haul the dead man’s traps.

An impromptu fleet of about 20 other lobster boats followed him out to the fishing grounds, to assist in taking up the traps, and the event was filmed by someone who used an airborne drone to get the images. This film was eventually placed online, I am told.

Apparently, the film caught the attention of a business based in Friendship, Maine: Wooden Lobster Buoys of Bradford Point, a company that manufactures facsimiles of real buoys for sale as gifts and souvenirs.

The company then mailed 10 buoys custom-painted in the proper colors to the family of the late lobsterman, as a gift in sympathy for his passing.

I did not hear about this token of kindness from the company, so don’t go thinking they were looking for a free pat on the head in the Courier. They have no idea that I found out about it using my own secret network of sources.

It was a true gesture of friendship from Friendship.

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Speaking of such things, back in the day when the place where I work had a lot more people in it than it does today, my co-workers used to buy gifts for a family chosen by another agency, to ensure that there would be gifts for the little ones and food for all at the holiday.

There is nothing unique in this, and people at many businesses have done such things over the years. I heard Camden National Bank once did the same thing, for example. Maybe they still do.

What makes me curious about this practice is that the motivation to provide these gifts of food, clothes and toys seemed to come from there being a sufficient number of people at the office who could produce the necessary energy and organize it properly. Now, in a time when many people no longer work together in offices but labor in solitude at computer keyboards at their homes, have they given up this kind of group activity because they no longer work in a social environment?

Many companies have given up on offices since the Plague struck us all so heavily, and their people are now working alone. What used to be called Boston Financial here in the Blessed South End no longer seems to need its offices on Water Street, for example. A telephone marketing company that was based in Belfast went the same way, giving up its rented offices in the old MBNA complex and having its employees work from home.

The reasons for this are fairly obvious, not the least of them being that the businesses involved in this widespread workforce migration became safer places by avoiding exposure to COVID infections. And now they find they no longer need to pay rent on their facilities, which must be a large cost saving.

In many ways, this change was a large-scale desocialization of work, and many employees prefer it to being required to drive to their offices in all weathers. But I also wonder if something valuable was lost when people started working from home, something relating to the sociability of the workplace, and the concentration of energy necessary for employees to cooperate in a wide range of things, not just gathering gifts for unknown strangers around the holiday season.

In a way, the migration of so many workers from offices to their own homes is a reversal of something workers first objected to quite strongly in the 18th century.

Certainly, in the UK where the Industrial Revolution originally began to change working people’s lives, the rise of factories as the standard workplace caused fury among independent weavers, who were used to working at their own pace in their own cottages. Silas Marner in George Eliot’s novel of that name was a home-based weaver, I think.

Inevitably, the sheer scale of the cotton mills made all resistance by the cottage weavers quite futile. They either abandoned what little autonomy they had and went to work for the mill owners, or they starved.

Today, some 400 years since the cottage weavers were forced to labor under the watchful eyes of their masters and overseers, we have now seen many offices broken up as the workers have been sent to work from home, an about-face in circumstances made possible by the Internet.

From what I hear, there was very little resistance to this recent switch, and many workers welcomed it. Many were actually unhappy at being asked to return to work in centralized offices, even when the intensity of the Plague began to decline.

Remember, it seems that many of the people who have contributed to the astronomical increase in the cost of housing in Rockland, and many other places too, came here to work for companies based in Boston, New York, California, and so forth, by using the Internet.

Personally, I did resist being sent to work from my home. I sided with the weavers, it seems. My job (yes, I do work for a living) involves helping people face-to-face, and what we were offered in place of that in-person customer service was the impersonality of helping people merely via the telephone and websites. Ironically, many of these people often had little access to the kind of tech-based systems we use to help them. Many struggled to get services at all.

In truth, there were trade-offs in both directions. Working from home required much less gasoline, but far more electricity and heating fuel to keep homes habitable for the long winter. It allowed many young parents to care for their little ones while (more or less) working, but it also cut people off from the society of their workplace fellows.

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Speaking of workers, it occurred to me this past holiday that if there really were elves, they would not be so much involved in making toys, but would rather show up the night after a big holiday dinner to take care of cleaning the dishes and the kitchen.

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Not all workers are elves or human beings. Weskeag Farm on Buttermilk Lane employs alpacas to manufacture a fine kind of wool.

One of these marvelous beasts, called Sunny, recently went to alpaca heaven and makes wool no more.

My Beloved counts herself most fortunate to have obtained the last three skeins of wool that Sunny was able to produce, to turn them into hats and scarves. At the same time, she bought some brussels sprouts.

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I see they managed to put the Water Street clock back at the right time when we fell back an hour this year. I consider it a major achievement of this column to have been able to badger the city often enough to have had some minor positive effect.

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I saw a recent news report that the Walgreens chain was fined heftily for not complying with Maine laws that require a pharmacist to be on duty a certain number of hours per week. The report said $68,000 was levied against the company.

In their defense, Walgreens pointed out that the labor shortage (see last week) was largely responsible for the lack of pharmacists on duty, along with a reduction in the number of people training to be pharmacists at schools and colleges.

It might seem a bit grumpy of me to point out that this is what happens when society relies so much on private enterprise to provide essential public services. And although I was able to help with fixing the South End clock (see above) I doubt this situation will be so easy for me to improve.

And anyway, the good news is that the Rockland Walgreens pharmacy is not included by my source on the list of stores fined for not being open.

I guess Rockland passed the test!

David Grima is a former editor with Courier Publications. He can be reached at