Creative thinking not advised

By Carolyn Marsh | Aug 07, 2009

Don’t think outside the box. Please. From my midtown aerie, I have noticed a new phenomenon. (Question: Are all phenomena new? Answer: No.) On any day, I can look down and see dozens of cars parked outside their parking-space lines. Most often they’ve missed the fore and aft dimension, but sometimes they’ve missed the parallel line as well. I can’t figure out why this is happening — or why, if it is not new, I have never noticed it before. But then, I’ve never before had this perspective on the issue.

It doesn’t appear to be variations in the size of the vehicles that determine the degree of the transgression. In fact, I suspect it is more the size, and quality, of the operator’s thinking apparatus. It can’t be easy to see white lines when you are peering around from behind the wheel of something roughly the size, and with the social graces, of a Tiger tank. And yet, as I write, more than half of the six vehicles parked outside their spaces on the west side of Main Street from Camden Custom Embroidery to the Maine Dog are small sedans, and all four of the ones on the east side of the street.

Perhaps the size of the spaces varies. This is not inconceivable, given the history of parking in this town. I have no intention of wandering around town with a tape measure — or, even better, a measuring laser gun (if that is what they are by some unlikely chance called) — to see if this is true. Come fall, I will check to see if this is a summer phenomenon or if the malaise grips people throughout the year.

I can understand parking out in the street a little, either parallel or head-in: The beautiful granite curbs, one of MBNA’s myriad legacies, sometimes catch doors and other times front bumpers, making a frightfully embarrassing noise and often requiring repairs.

(Once I asked John French, the doyen of auto-repairer masters, if I should replace my car’s very expensive wheel covers, which looked as though they had been on the losing end of several wars, due to my inability to intuit or otherwise determine exactly where the curb was. “Why bother?” John said. “You’ll have the new ones beat up just as bad within a week.” I like a professional who tells it like it is.)

A couple of small signs in boutiques around town make me wonder if Camden is projecting quite the international brand it appears to be aiming for. One forbids food or drinks because the carpet is new. Lots of stores in town do not permit food or drinks inside, but do we need to know the smallest housekeeping details behind the decision? Why not just say "No Food No Drinks Please." I have a sneaking suspicion that soon we will be asked to take off our shoes before entering.

Another apprises the customer that the store is air-conditioned so the door must be kept closed. Don’t most doors close of themselves? Should we be on the alert for people who look as though they are planning to prop open the door of an air-conditioned boutique and then flee the scene?

Nor shall I even mention the garbage on the sidewalk outside one of our newest temples of taste.

The other morning, while some people were communing with their God (or gods, for that matter), I beheld a small miracle.

Driving into town from Lincolnville on Route 52 at an early hour of the morning, I saw a black-and-white cat dart out from the shrubbery at the side of the road and run across Route 52 straight into the rear wheel of a car coming toward me. I saw the whole thing: The cat heading for the car, the driver absolutely unable to do anything to avoid hitting him and the cat bouncing off the wheel and executing several inventive somersaults in the air before coming down hard, and ominously still, on the pavement.

Three other people immediately stopped to lend a hand. The cat had no pulse; his eyes were fixed and his little pink tongue was hanging out of the corner of his mouth in that terrible way the tongues of dead animals do. But I, who was holding the cat, could feel him breathing, albeit barely.

As we waited for the police, his breathing became progressively stronger, and by the time Officer John Tooley arrived, the cat was doing his best to wriggle out of my arms. We all tackled him, however, and put him in the back of the cruiser, where he was extremely active and not at all happy, whence he went to Vic Steinglass to get examined, the Camden-Rockport Animal Rescue League shelter for holding overnight and the next day back to his owner, who vowed she would have him microchipped immediately. She had never known Buttons, which turned out to be his name, to cross Route 52, she said, but for some reason, on the very day he did, his rescuers were at hand.

Not surprisingly, some of us have known John Tooley since he was a child, and that is what small towns are all about.
If you appreciated reading this news story and want to support local journalism, consider subscribing today.
Call (207) 594-4401 or join online at
Donate directly to keeping quality journalism alive at
Comments (1)
Posted by: Richard McKusic, Sr. | Aug 08, 2009 14:10

YEA, Carolyn!!

If you wish to comment, please login.
Note: If you signed up using our new subscriber portal, your username is the email address you registered with and your password is in all caps