With Lewiston, Maine, on the hearts and minds of a whole nation, we’ve experienced some heartfelt celebrity outreach in recent days.
Pro footballers from the New England Patriots gave shout-outs of support to the Lewiston Blue Devils and City of Auburn Red Eddies high school football teams. It all took place before the cross-river rivals took the field while trying to get back to the business of life after the tragedy of the horrific mass shooting a week ago. Heck, Will Ferrell even piped into the conversation.
For a city and its people, it’s reassuring to be noticed by kind and talented people.
James Taylor showed up with his guitar to sing the national anthem. That’s a magical thing. Delivering a small dose of happiness to an entire city cannot be discounted in such horrific times.
Prominent names with big personalities have gone to war zones, raised money for important causes, and provided the service of giving people smiles when they need them the most. We need them, and we appreciate their support.
It’s not what I write about, though.
As a tiny speck on this globe, I am elated to highlight the little things.
My kid is a Maine State Police detective, and in his role, he was sent, like so many cops, to respond to Lewiston amid the tragedy and subsequent search for the murderer of eighteen loved Mainers.
Cops from all over Maine showed up. It’s what first responders do.
Maine is vast, and the jokes about lone travelers getting the advice that “you can’t get there from here” when receiving directions from a stoic Mainer are steeped in truth.
My son had a long drive from Maine’s Canadian border to get to the spot where he needed to be. At the start of his shift that night, he had no idea that he’d be heading southbound for two hundred fifty miles, and of course, he had to stop once for fuel at a convenience store. He found one just off an Interstate off-ramp.
During a quick pit stop in one of Maine’s well-policed small towns, he ran into another young cop working his own night shift. By then, that officer certainly knew what was going on in Lewiston. Still, Maine can’t send every police officer to one city, even though the incredible and overwhelming response probably looked like that to outsiders.
So, in their brief meeting, the municipal police officer took an opportunity to do something for someone else; he offered to grab my son something to drink as he hurriedly filled up his cruiser to continue his journey. It was an offering of a boost in morale. Although not musical, celebrity-related, or sports-centric, it was equally appreciated.
My son declined, but not before thanking the officer for his thoughtful offering. He had grabbed some drinks for the trip while he packed his bag for what was going to be at least an overnight or three.
At that point, the city cop, determined to be of some assistance, did what any good Mainer would do. That is, he did something.
The young police officer—sequestered in his town from traveling to Lewiston for good reason— said, “Let me wash your windows.” And with that, he did, both front and back, of course. He even sought to eliminate glass hazing by reviewing his work and polishing any remaining squeegee smears with a clean paper towel. He went the extra mile so others could go further. I bet he does this in his day-to-day as well.
Any cop worth his salt knows you must be looking forward and backward with some regularity, and sparkling windows are a must.
With very few other words outside of “thank you,” my son hit the road for the last eighty miles of his journey. I know it had a positive impact on him.
He could see with clarity because of that small moment of cop camaraderie and concern. People shine when the chips are down, and I am sure there were many other examples just like that over the next three days all over our great state.
To be clear, we all know that if that cop could have headed south to serve the mission in Lewiston, he would have without qualms or complaints.
On my son’s return trip home, he swung by my house. We talked briefly about the things he’d seen and done in Lewiston, but what came to his mind was his story about a thoughtful cop he’d never met before; he’ll be sure to speak to him again under better circumstances.
Knowing it was the story I wanted to hear, he shared it with me. I’ve listened to stories like the others too many times. I’m more of a “let’s see the stories that fell into the slot between the driver’s seat and the transmission hump” sort of guy.
So, while celebrities and sports stars make a positive and needed impact on the people who need it the most, there are other stories. Those little tales from that night and the following days don’t have a publicist, but they should, shouldn’t they?
It’s just a story about a cop who needed to remain in his town—policing a community eighty miles north of a horrific scene. He wanted to do his part. And he did. It’s admirable and noteworthy.
No one will sing about that.
It brought to mind lyrics from a favorite Van Morrison song;
“What’s my line?
I’m happy cleaning windows
Take my time…”
The chorus finishes up with poignant words,
“…I’m a working man in my prime
From the Jagged Edge of America, I remain,
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