Portland, Maine— On this gorgeous fall Sunday in Southern Maine, my wife and I enjoyed our first cup of coffee and flipped on the TV to catch one of our favorite local shows.
The aroma of that first cup was spoiled by the bombardment of negative advertising in the Maine Senate race, where the two major candidates’ attack ads duking it out took up all of the advertising time.
These negative ads here in Maine have been so pervasive the last few weeks that I longed to be back on Guam, where kindness toward others prevails throughout the community. The political campaigns I observed on Guam always had a high degree of professionalism on both sides of the aisle.
This lack of kindness playing out on the TV ads helped us decide to go leaf peeping and to drive down to the beach in Wells to see the surf crashing up along the breakwater wall that we've heard is unusually high this day.
But first, we would have brunch at IHOP, one of the few restaurants where we have felt comfortable dining in. Our IHOP did extensive work building high wooden partitions between booths and seating areas to lower the risk of catching the virus. Sixty percent of their tables are out of service due to the pandemic. This has made it difficult for the restaurant and its staff to eke out a living.
Our favorite server at IHOP is Mary, who treats us like family. When we asked for Mary, she came out with a smile and said there would be a short wait as all her tables were full. A party of four should be leaving soon from our favorite table, a corner booth quite a distance from any other tables.
About five minutes later, Mary appeared and said, “OK, kiddos, your table is ready.”
However, the usual spunk and joyfulness in her voice were missing. As we were being led back to our table, I detected a moistness to her eyes and I asked, "What's wrong Mary?" "The previous foursome stayed for over an hour and left zilch for a tip." Somehow the strawberry-banana pancakes didn't taste nearly as good this day as we really felt bad for Mary.
We tried to make up for the previous group’s rudeness when we paid our bill. Before heading down to Wells, we decided to stop by Whole Foods to get some of the final pickings of the native corn season from Pineland Farms.
After putting the corn in our cart, I spotted a display of beautiful peaches from New Jersey. There were four or five peaches in each carton and I chose a carton that had five peaches. As I was putting the carton in my cart, I noticed that one of the peaches had a rotten spot, so I put the carton back into the display. I had barely lifted a different carton out of the display when I heard the angriest voice directly behind me.
"You $#@* idiot!" As I turned around, this very disturbed soul was pulling his mask down as he revved up his tirade toward me.
He was so close that his saliva sprayed on my forehead and glasses above my mask. “What the %$#@ are you trying to do, kill someone? You don't put something back you've touched you &%#%@!”
Normally I would respond with an apology if I thought I had offended someone, but my intuition told me to put the original carton in my cart and make a quick exit. I checked out without saying anything. On the way back north on Route 1, we passed through the picturesque town of Kennebunk.
Like us, there are many leaf peepers out peeping. The fall colors are absolutely astounding this year, and every turn in the road brings a new ooh and aah. Just north of Kennebunk, the car in front of us turned left, opening up a four to give car length gap in front of us.
Before I could speed up to close the gap, a white SUV turned from a side street on the right into the northbound lane right in front of us. Without thinking, I immediately pressed the heel of my hand on my horn expressing my deviant displeasure with the SUV's decision to cut in front of me, totally disregarding any sense of grace on my part.
As I braked to avoid getting too close to the SUV, I spotted the clear and unmistakable Connecticut license plate on this SUV. Oh no. These people are obviously tourists who don't know the area and are trying to turn onto a busy highway. I've just given them a rude impression of Maine hospitality. Shame on me. My rudeness toward this SUV is just as bad as the other cases of rudeness we observed this day. I was upset with myself . We can all be a little more patient and kinder.
I flipped the radio on to Satellite Radio 18, The Beatles Channel. "Let It Be" was playing.
When I find myself in trouble, mother Mary comes to me;
Speaking words of wisdom, Let it be, let it be
And when the broken hearted, living in the world agree;
There will be an answer, Let it be, let it be.
For though they may be parted, there is still a chance that they may see
Whisper words of wisdom, Let it be, let it be.
After the song, the commentator Peter Asher came on to tell the story behind “Let It Be.” Paul McCartney's mother, Mary, died when he was 14. A few years later, when the Beatles were having disagreements, Paul had a dream where his mother appeared. She reassured him saying, "It's going to be OK, just let it be."
This was the inspiration behind the song. As I ponder the song’s lyrics, I can't help but think of the growing political divide preceding our upcoming elections.
After Nov. 3, I hope that our broken hearts will come together and we will all agree that, “There has been an answer, let it be, let it be.”
Theodore Lewis is former CEO of Guam Memorial Hospital and has a health care consulting business based out of Portland, Maine. He is collecting stories about lessons learned in life and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.