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A truck driver and his team from the midwest were surprised by the kindness of Mainers. We weren’t.
When this trucking crew ran into problems transporting an entire magnetic resonance imaging building to a hospital in Bar Harbor, they also ran into encouragement and patience from Mainers on the road and online. That shouldn’t have been surprising.
Mike Saxton set out from Hartland, Wisconsin, at the end of June with this high-tech health care building, which weighed nearly 200,000 pounds and extended nearly 150 feet. The load was so big that Saxton and his team expected the trip to be slow moving and planned for things to go wrong.
What they didn’t plan for was the response from Mainers on the roadway.
Traffic had to be diverted around the truck after it “bottomed out” at the head of the Penobscot Narrows Bridge last Wednesday. It got hung up again Thursday with a flat tire in Northeast Harbor. But Saxton was met with cheers rather than jeers, and with donuts instead of people going nuts.
“There were people following his trip all through Maine, supporting him. It was pretty cool,” Zak Fleming, the fleet manager at Indiana-based Trans-United, told the BDN’s Abigail Curtis on Friday. “When he got to the job site, people were coming up to him, offering him dinner and lobster, all sorts of stuff. It was nothing we’d ever seen.”
Even on social media, not exactly a bastion of positivity, Mainers were supportive rather than upset. “The driver used great driving skills making this difficult delivery. Wonderful job, sir!” one woman wrote on the Downeast Maine Traffic & Road Conditions Facebook page.
“I was born into this industry. It’s all I’ve ever done,” Fleming said. “We’re used to being the ones that make people late to work, that cause the frustration. I’ve never, ever remembered a time that we’ve been cheered on like this.”
Perhaps we weren’t surprised because we’ve seen other examples of Maine kindness throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, with people stepping up to help their neighbors and strangers in need. During some of the worst times we can remember, we’ve seen the best of Maine.
The opportunities to help out haven’t hit a dead end. There are still plenty of ways that Maine people can support each other like they supported the midwestern trucking team.
As just one example, Mainers can help address a severe shortage one person at a time by donating blood.
“The American Red Cross is facing a severe blood shortage as the number of trauma cases, organ transplants and elective surgeries rise and deplete the nation’s blood inventory,” Scott Luciano, the board chair of the Northern and Eastern Maine Chapter of the American Red Cross, wrote in a letter to the BDN last week. “In addition, patients battling chronic medical conditions and mothers with complicated childbirths rely on the generosity of volunteer donors to ensure they receive blood and blood product transfusions. Right now, the blood supply has fallen to critical levels.”