Here is my comment to a blog posting by Chad Botting of Patten Maine.
His blog posting is at:
This is a good story about an unusual individual who lives in a small town, but people like him live in every type of populated or even unpopulated geographical area.
I used to live in the Patten area, I know the way it is up there. Not any real different than most places, just less bad stuff like crime, less of the good stuff like steady jobs though, but those who are fortunate enough to live there generally have good, healthy lives.
I wish I could give you enough advice to help you understand this guy, but I think you’ll have to live longer for that to come to you as you mature. Talk to someone older in your family about what makes people like that strange store customer of yours tick, or find someone in town who knows the guy well and can explain his life to you.
What you have written here shows that you’re likely to understand that fat, greasy, unshaven guy some day when you’re older. It also shows that you have good ideas on what to write about.
I started writing seriously about 7 years ago. It was at a local community college which has a half decent writing lab. The first things I wrote about are from my days living in Patten, actually ten miles north of there at Katahdin Lodge and Camps. I had told my wild and crazy Maine stories verbally so many times that I thought it was going to be easy to write them out, but it isn’t that way at all. I had to write then rewrite then get some intense coaching at the writing lab then rewrite and get it critiqued by a writing coach then take their suggestions and corrections then rewrite for days till I got it somewhere close to what it needed to be. It ain’t easy!
By the way, I found this story of yours when I blog searched for Patten Maine.
What I have done here for you in the following reprint of your story is like what the college writing coaches did for me. College English teachers can only do so much for us fledgling writers, we need writing lab type coaching, and that is not easy to find way up there in the North Maine Woods where you live. I have corrected some things I’m sure about, others are a guess, and I can’t get all the punctuation correct on my own stuff so I did my best with yours.
You really should sit down and do these suggested corrections to see how it feels to go one step further with the rewriting process; all writers write-rewrite-rewrite-on and on till they get something that their (see, this is my second rewrite on this and I just realized that it is they’re not their) comfortable enough with to send to an editor, and then the editor will probly order some changes and corrections. It ain’t easy!
And use the Spell Check feature on your computer, I have to use it over and over as I write.
Now, listen to some old time stories from old time story tellers whom you encounter around town, they have a great tradition of it up there. Ofcourse, the modern days with satellite TV and the Internet surfing and video games have trimmed down the times spent swappin’ lies and telling mostly true tall tales around campfires or during Cribbage Games, but you have some chance up there of learning certain old time, tried and true, truly entertaining story telling techniques from your family, friends, neighbors, and store customers. Techniques which are ancient communications skills that are long lost in the rest of America.
To verify that I am any kind of a readable writer myself, go to Magic-City-News.com (out of Millinocket Maine) and look down the left hand column till you see DR Crews, then click on that. I have some of the same Patten stories, plus old Patten photos, at www.maineoutdoorstoday.com/DavidCrews/index.html
Well, here’s what I can figure needs to be fixed on your excellent story, but it isn’t the best coaching or editing you can get. I may not be a top notch, world famous professional writer yet, but I am passing on to you help that was given to me to get my written stuff published on four important, widely read, Maine Internet publications.
I hope that you write more about 2006 Patten Maine and publish it on your blog.
Chad's interesting written piece, with my corrections added:
I work in a grocery store, that is on main street in the small town of Patten Maine. Patten has a population of about 1,200 people. Because of this I see many of the same faces every day. I know about people ( people’s ) lives because I hear them talking to each other, just the normal small town gossip. But some people are just not with the program. I am going to tell you about someone that (who ) I see often in town. It ( is ) a strange thing(,) I see this guy all the time and I don't know his name.
He is a fat, greasy and never shaves ( a fat greasy what ? or remove the a). When every (ever) he come(s) in the store(,) it is like he has to talk to every one ( everyone ) that even looks at him. He tells every one ( everyone ) what is going on in his life, not that it is all that entrusting ( interesting ) . When he is working on something(,) he is always in a hurry, he talks really fast and acts as if he in (is) under a lot of stress, but he is not employed so I don't now where the stress is coming from. He always pays for his food with a food stamp card, but never has enough money on it to buy every thing ( everything ). So when this happens(,) I have ( to ) help him go thought (through) his bags and tell him what he bought so that he can pick out what he does not want. I don't remember one single time he has come in shopping and this has not happed ( happened ) . It also also (take out 2nd also ) happens in the middle of the day with every one ( everyone ) watch ( watching ) when all the normal town(‘)s ( or say Patten People? , nah, townsfolk is better ) people ( are ) in the store and are ( it’s possible to take out this are ) waiting in line behind him. It is really a very sad sight.
But this man's embarrassment does not end their ( there ). Some times when a customer buy ( buys ) lots of stuff I help them take it out to there ( their ) car. I remember once when I did this for this man. It was terrible, I almost felt bad for him, the whole time I was thinking ( that ) this guy needs to relax. ( I remember once when I did this for the man, it was terrible, I almost felt bad for him; the whole time I was thinking, this guy needs to relax.) He drove some kind of an old hatch back ( hatchback ) , very dirty, dusty, and beat up looking. There was lots of junk in the inside, and ( a )small sick, dirty, smelly dog, ( ; ) I think it was some kind of a poodle. When he opened the door the dog would try and run out of the car. It was a strange transition, in side ( inside ) the store it was like he was trying to be nice to every one ( everyone ) , the other customers and the employees. ( , but when ) When the dog try ( tried ) the get out of the car ( , the man ) hit it back words ( backwards ) , and started to yell very loud ( ly ) and the dog would just try and get out again and he would ( be ) yelling at it, this when ( went ) on the whole time I was helping him. ( new paragraph? ) He also bought way to much food for the free space he had in his car ( , ) because there was so much other junk. I really did not want to deal with it ( , ) so I just handed him the stuff and waited for it to be over with. Since there ( was ) no free room, the dog keep ( kept ) get ( getting ) on top of the food as he was putting it in the car, so he keep ( kept ) yelling at the dog and pushing it off the pile of food. So the dog ended up the front drivers seat. I ( am ) not really sure how he ever drove home this way, it does not seem like it would have been safe. ( new paragraph? ) As ( I ) walked back into the store ( , ) I thought to my self ( myself ) how come ( could ) any one ( anyone ) ever end up like that? If he would just clean out his car and plan how much food for ( , the amount of food stamps left on his card, that he ) was going to buy ( , ) every thing ( then everything ) would be so much better an ( and ) easier on every one ( everyone ), including that poor little dog.
The next time I remember helping this same guy ( , he was ) out was ( remove 2nd was ) about two weeks latter. He did the same thing with buying more food than he had money for again. This time one of my coworkers, Richard, asked him how his knee was doing. At first he did no ( didn’t know ) what Richard was talking about, but then he remember ( ed ) that if did hurry ( he did hurt ) his knee a while ago, and he thought he would need to have it operated on, but it turns out it healed on its own. He could not remember what Richard was talking about at first ( , ) because he has so much wrong with him he can't keep track of it all. This time he was park ( ed ) across the road in the hardware store's parking lot. This time he must have been riding with a friend because he did ( didn’t ) have his car, he had a small black pickup truck. This time it was not quite as funny, but there was a crowd of people next to ( the ) truck and as we approached all but one teenaged ( teenage ) kid -walked off. When we got there ( , ) the kid said ( , ) "Next time you see him coming just run". While he said this the ( poor, old, greasy grocery store patron or poor old guy ) guy just had a blank ( , ) unhappy look on his face and stared straight ahead.
After that I wounded if maybe this guy had been made fun of his entire life. Maybe that was his problem. ( ; ) I guess I might never know. I often wounder ( wonder ) what is going on inside some ( people’s head’s like this guy’s ) like this guys head. It is true he probably is not that smart. ( It is probably true that he is not that smart. ) I am very smart ( , ) but the job I do does not require me too be. In fact there are many jobs that don't, so why does he not work? Beside ( besides ) that ( , ) I think his biggest problem is that he cares what other people think ( , ) for some reason, ( . ) I don't understand why he even tries to hang out with all the people from the hardware store and why does he try and talk to all the people in the ( grocery ) store? I don't get it? What is he expecting from these people? One reason that I chose to write about this guy is because this is the kind of person that really bugs me. It would be much better if every one ( everyone ) that live ( who lived ) in town was ( were ) rich and normal . The first person that comes to mind is the local pharmacist's wife, we don't have much in common ( , ) but she is easy to talk ( to ), and we ( when ) she come ( comes ) in the ( grocery ) store is ( it’s ) not a chore to work with her. No one runs off when she comes.(end of Chad's written piece)
Well kid, that fat old, hairy, greasy guy may be smarter than you know; he may be a good small engine mechanic or one of them people who never get lost out in the woods. Realize that his physical disabilities force him to survive on a much lower income than most of the working people in that low to moderate income area of the country have.
Just my perspective here, but, it wouldn’t be better if the only people around you everyday were all rich and normal. Everyone has their own particular problems; some rich people are sometimes mean and nasty and deceitful, you wouldn’t like that. Normal people can be boring, and they tend to not ever push society into a better, smarter future or create more progression in arts like writing. Normal people can be stagnant. The rich can be so self righteous that they screw everything up for everyone. Some rich, normal folks, like the pharmacist's wife, are very nice---they may be into and intimately knowledgeable about the newest, finest art, music, fashions, written work, and ways to live a healthier, fuller life and to raise their kids to be happy and successful, but many less educated, lower income people around rural areas like Patten Maine know more of just what the world is all about and how to live a good life and how to be the finest kind of family folks.
I remember one time when I was driving from Island Falls towards Patten with two bear hunters from suburban New Jersey in my truck and one looked over to the side of the road where a tarpapered shack of a home sat, with smoke coming out its chimney from the wood stove that the wife was cooking a big family dinner on, and he said, with a belittling smirk on his face, "I don’t know how the hell anybody can live like that?"
My friendly, smiling reply to that was, "Yeah? Well the man who owns that tarpapered house once said to me that he had been down to New Jersey once and couldn’t understand how the hell anybody could live in a bunch of houses that are crammed in so close together like that. Hey, look man, let me tell you something, you may have a steadier and much better paying job and nicer looking house than that guy does, but you ain’t no happier. You have a nice little yard to sit out in and relax, he has the whole goddamned woods here to roam around in, to harvest wild meat from and to enjoy himself in. He goes hunting and takes his boys when they’re old enough, he takes his whole family out fishing and berry picking to make sure that they have enough to eat, you two guys worked long hard hours at your jobs to pay for this hunting trip, you love it up here in the woods, you’re having a great time, and he lives that everyday. What’s better, having a good, steady job that gives ya’ excess money to spend on hunting trips and luxuries for your family, or low paid seasonal work that gives you lots of time to spend out in the woods, that you love, while you’re working, and when you’re off work you’re free to walk out your back door and into the woods to enjoy them with the people who you love the most? That family in that tarpapered home don’t want what you have no more than you want what they have."
The two New Jersey guys let lose with some friendly, understanding smiles and laughter, and the one who had made the belittling remark, which was based on the lack of aluminum or vinyl or painted wood siding on the outside walls of the tarpapered home, said, "You’re right! I believe it, never thought of it that way."
Trust me, living only with normal, and/or rich people around you could make your life a stagnant, boring, uninteresting, frustrating, pointless, affair.
I may not have been back there to Patten since 1979, but from what I see on the Internet about the town, it still has enough good in it to outweigh the bad---now if the job market would get better, more people could live there and enjoy those good points about the area.
Again, this is just my perspective.
Listen, I’ve been around and all up and down through this here world we all share and in my 56 years living on this earth, I have had interesting conversations with well educated, multi-millionaires and uneducated, homeless winos, and they all usually offered me something real and intelligent to help me through life with.
Find out all you can about that greasy guy and cut through those layers of grease to see who’s underneath---then write some more about him and publish it here on your blog. We readers of yours will be looking forward to it.
Here is another blog posting of Chad's, I am adding this to my blog on October 24.
Saturday, October 21, 2006
I work at the Ellis Family Market in Patten, Maine. The store is owned and operated by the two Ellis brothers, Jon and Peter. They have a schedule and work at the store just like every one else, in fact some days it is hard to tell that they are in charge at all. They are both very nice people, but have very different management styles and personality types. Because of this they are both fun to work for in there own way.
They both have different ways of dealing with employees. Peter is more of a goof ball, he is nice to every one. loves to help out, and enjoys a positive atmosphere. If you talk to him he always has some good ideas and advice to share. Jon on the other hand is a much quieter person. He says hello and good bye, and gives lots of smiles, but does not really just to engage a person in conversation very often. If he wants to know some thing in particular he will bring you in to his offer and be very direct and ask. He comes off as a very serious and on the ball kind of guy. On his launch break he goes running every day rain or shine, I don't think Peter does any excises at all, at least not that I know of. Jon comes off as the kind of guy you don't want to piss off, because he will have no problem taking action. Peter on the other hand seems like the kind of guy that would just avoid trouble, I think that he would hate dealing with it much more, and does not seem like the kind of person to get mad. At least I have never seen he mad.
The way that they present them selfs is also very different. Peter enjoys nice new things, he always drives a newer car or truck. Jon owns a new big green truck, but most of the time he drives an old station wagon car. Peter also wears new “hip” cloths, more often, unless he is having a bad day in which case he looks more like a customer than the owner. I think Jon must have “work clothes” because he was been wearing the same stuff since the first time I ever worked there in1998, a button up shirt and dress pants every day. Jon also often wears a cross on the out side of his cloths, he goes to church every Sunday, he once even asked me if I believe in god, which I was honest and told him I did. I am not sure if Peter is very religious or not, I have never seen him wearing a cross and his house is 40 miles away in Houlton, so I don't know if he goes to church. Peter also never wear the Red Hannaford apron that every one else does, but Jon always does.
Peter knows all about the computer world. He uses iTunes and Google and has a laptop. He knows what is new, and what is happening. Sometimes that serves as a source of conversation between us. He likes to deal with all the “high tech” stuff at work. Jon on the other hand does not even like to run the cash registers at work, and I can't picture him setting at one of the computers at work because I have never seen him do it. Even there choices in wives are different. Jon's wife is nice, I see her at least once a week every Saturday guarantied, She talk with just about every one that is working, and always has at least two of there three kids with her. She has a very soft inviting face, and she is the kind of sweet person you can not say no to. Peter has had two wives, he was married to his first wife before I ever worked for him and don't remember much about her other than see looked like see might be of Asian decent, and see had really big boobs, and she was also a teacher if I remember correctly. I have only seen his new wife a hand full of times, and only talked to her once. See came off as a very smart woman, she was a music major in college. And now is a music teacher at Houlton High School. Other than that I don't really know any thing about her.
Jon and Peter are both really great guys, and good to work for. I have had ten plus bosses in my life and I would have to say that are the top two. I am sure I will keep in touch and let them know what is going on after I move on to other things in life, who know in forty years I might be living in Patten Maine and still know them. That would be great!
posted by Chad Botting at 8:59 AM
Here is my comment to this posting:
Yep, that's a contrast in characters for sure. A damn good pair of guys to have for bosses, and they seem to balance out what needs to be done and done right in their store. Your gonna get teased somewhere here or there on that bit about Peter’s first wife’s big boobs. Ofcourse, Asian Women tend to be shorter and you were much younger and shorter back then, when she was around, so you probly got an in your eye full now and then when you went into Ellis’ Market as a kid. It sure is good to hear that Patten’s still got some fun local places to work and shop at. You should hope that they get to read this written piece of yours at the market, it is fair and complimentary, but not a touch of ‘buttering up the bosses’ that I could perceive, it looks real honest to me.
You do need to compose your writing using a Word program; use spell and grammar check; I use spell check all the time, but grammar only now and then, because it tends to cut any sentences in half that it can. Then you do a right click copy from the Word File and paste onto your blog. I do this a lot.
Between your writings about that greasy store customer and the Ellis brothers, you have the start of a good inside look at year 2006 Patten Maine . Thanks, I miss the place.
Chad rewrote his contrast story, and here are my comments on contrast 2.
You sure make it easy to picture Peter and Jon in my head, and I can hear their Northern Maine accent too. Man o’ day, it’s great to know that Patten is still a nice place for a few lucky folks to find good employment.
I’d say that you seem like an all round good employee, and with the way that you see the individual strengths of your bosses, you might make a decent boss yourself someday.
I don’t know if you read my comment on the first version of this contrast piece of yours, but you would write better with the help of your computer’s Spell and Grammar Check features. Just about everyone has Microsoft Word, but all Word programs have Spell and Grammar Check. Take two words that may be used separate or together, like every + one, combine them into everyone, see if Spell Check underlines it in red, if not it may be the way to use it in your sentence. I use Spell Check constantly, and often for the same word many times, but I’m getting older, and I burnt out a bit back in my wilder days. Then ya’ gotta’ do what all writers do, read your work through and rewrite it, then rewrite it again. That is the hardest lesson I had to give into, when I began writing seriously about seven years ago.
All ya’ gotta’ do is web search my full name in quotes, “David Robert Crews” to see what I have on the Internet. I hope you read some of my Patten Maine stories; my story Walkin’ Nellie, on Magic-City-News.com (under DR Crews), is like your story about the greasy guy who never has enough food stamp money on his card. My Patten stories all have people in them that you may be related to.
You have a good attitude about work and employer-employee relationships. I’ve heard many a person complain about a boss, then they were worse bosses when they got promoted.
You have a good chance of writing some interesting stuff that will speak for many in your small town, it will bring back warm memories for them some day, and you know that you are one of the rare young people in Patten who want to stay there and live and get to. Most kids from that area have to go find work or to school out of state after they graduate high school. The better you write, then the more likely it is for your stories to be around and read or decades to come.
I swear to ya’ that your story helps me to imagine seeing and hearing them two hard working brothers walking down the frozen food isle of Ellis’ Market in Patten Maine while talkin’ business and being friendly to their staff and customers, but I doubt that I ever met ‘um in person.
Here is my second comment added to Chad's contrast 2 blog posting. I also emailed him this.
Hello there Chad.
I was trying to remember if I knew any families around Patten with the last name of Botting, this morning it struck me that your name may be pronounced Bottin’, like hunting is pronounced huntin’. In that case Walkin’ Nellie is probly a relative of yours. I can’t remember what her last name was, but I believe she was called Walkin’ Nellie Bottin’ by the locals.
After my story about her was published, I received several emails from Patten area residents who knew her, but I haven’t heard from anyone who knew her and her family well.
What is in my story about Nellie you will have to read there, if you’re interested in some local history, but I will tell you what I have learned about her since then. She was walking down the road with her little girl by her side, south from Patten I believe it was, when a car leaving town sped up then struck them both, killing the little child. After that Nellie sorta’ just kept walking, day after day after year for decades.
From your writing I can tell that you haven’t been through enough to understand this obsession of hers; I may be able to understand, from an offset point of view, why she had to keep walking, but I can’t seem to find the words to express this clearly. It has to do with the worst kind of pain, emotional turmoil, and undeserved guilt. Most likely undeserved, I don’t know, I wasn’t there to see the accident, but I doubt that she was at fought in anyway; Nellie must have been an attentive, loving mother, because she loved her little daughter so much that the child’s accidental death was so devastating to her motherly instincts, cares, and concerns that she went off the deep end away from the natural comforts of the rest of society. Years after my story about her took place, Nellie drowned herself in a bathroom sink at Patten’s old age home.
Several Patten residents took offense to my story about Nellie, the same as some people might about your story of the old greasy store customer whom you have had to help so many times.
But we only tell the truth in these writings of ours.
You never sided with the guys who make fun of the old greasy guy, but you can’t understand their cruelty to the old guy or the old guy’s way of handling it and coming back into town to socialize with them again on a regular basis, even though it means he’ll be the victim of more mistreatment by them other guys. That shows that you have the inclination to want to understand odd situations in life better. If you continue to write about this stuff, you have a much better chance of finding some answers to the questions you have about everyday people like the old greasy guy.
But don’t make this mistake that I made: Although I tried as hard as I could not to convey a false impression that I approve of people hassling a person who ain’t quite in with the rest of society anymore, I have failed to convince all my readers that I am not an immature man making fun of Nellie all these years later. My written story seems to me to make fun of my youthful actions more than anything else. But, that’s why we writers put out our best stuff if we have editors to help us see how our readers may perceive our stories. I didn’t have an editor for most of my stories, you best write all you can while you have an English instructor to help you realize how your stuff comes across.
If you find out about Nellie’s life and family, please straighten me about it by email, or, do your own Walkin’ Nellie story for an English assignment. At least find out for yourself if she’s related to you your family, it may help you to better understand everyday people like that greasy guy who’s name you don’t know. Write about them both in detail, it is good reading. You live in a writer’s gold mine of a small town, take advantage of it.
Here is a link to Walkin’ Nellie:
All, frig-it, I’ll take a chance that ya’ might really wanna’ read what some of what I write, here’s the wild ride I went on right after that VW Bug Trip:
david robert crews