Stuffed Wildebeest, Empty Pockets
I’m not the kind of person who takes pleasure in the misery of a fellow human being. (Well, actually, I am that kind of person. I just pretend I’m not when I’m writing for Down East.) So let me just say this about the terrible plight of Linda Roberts of Auburn.
Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha (gasp) hahahhahaha. Ha (wheeze) ha.
Roberts admitted she embezzled $32,467 from the Dunkin’ Donuts in Lewiston where she worked. She also confessed to trying to pay back the money with a worthless check. But now she says she can’t return her ill-gotten gains because she lost them all in an Internet scam.
I’ve always wondered (and, admit it, so have you) who would be dumb enough to send money to the writers of those e-mails that promise you a share of a huge inheritance if only you’ll help out with a few thousand dollars worth of incidental expenses.
Now I know. Roberts says she sent all the embezzling loot and more to a British woman who was allegedly trying to clear up her husband’s 10-million-pound estate. Shockingly, Roberts claims, it turned out that e-mailed tale wasn’t true, and now she can’t make restitution.
At her sentencing next month, Roberts faces up to 10 years in prison on each count. In spite of several previous convictions for similar offenses, she’s asking for leniency. After all, her faith in others has been violated. She may never be able to trust another person as long as she lives.
I’m not laughing with her. I’m laughing at her. (Please don’t tell my editors at Down East.)
Real animals. A bear. An elk. A coyote. A wildebeest. All at a fraction of their original prices. The bear was only $4,000, marked down from $10,000. Buffalo heads were going for $249. That’s 90 percent off. Dall sheep with big horns were just five grand, which is a savings of $14,000 from the regular price. There was even a reindeer, although it was a fake.
It’s enough to make me wish I hadn’t sent all my money to that nice prince in Nigeria.
Fortunately, I did have the presence of mind to save 60 cents in coins so I could use the exact-change lane on the Maine Turnpike. Except there aren’t any exact-change lanes, anymore. The pike pulled them all to make more room for E-Z Pass.
About half the turnpike’s customers now use the electronic toll collection system. And the rest won’t need coins much longer, because the standard toll is increasing on Feb. 1 from 60 cents to a buck. For your convenience.
You may have to pawn that stuffed wildebeest you picked up for a fraction of its original cost at Marden’s in order to afford that trip to New Hampshire to buy cheap booze.
With tight credit and a tighter job market, more people are turning in their heirloom pieces of taxidermy for ready cash, with stores reporting a 30 to 40 percent increase in the number of elk they’ve taken as collateral.
No wonder. Layoffs this past week at Thos. Moser furniture in Auburn, although the company wouldn’t say how many. Bath Iron Works has no such qualms. The shipyard said it’s cutting 179 jobs later this month.
NewPage Corp. announced it will soon reduce paper production by over 3 percent, which will lead to staff reductions, although it’s not yet clear if the slowdown will hit the company’s mill in Rumford or be limited to facilities in other states.
On Jan. 9, Gov. John Baldacci announced his budget plan for the next two years. It eliminates 219 state jobs, 139 of which are currently filled.
In addition, the governor is proposing to ax 137 positions in the highway department, of which 52 are occupied at this time. Baldacci isn’t planning on any major tax hikes, although many fees for licenses and permits will increase. He’s also hoping to cover some of the shortfall in state revenues with money from a soon-to-be-settled British inheritance.
The first installment on that transformation will result in $18 million in budget reductions this coming fiscal year.
As for Mainers who lost their jobs at the beginning of the recession, you don’t have to worry about them squandering their unemployment checks on stuffed wildebeests. That’s because their unemployment benefits are about to run out.
The only good news for them is bad news for everybody else. If Maine’s unemployment rate remains above 6 percent through February, the state will be allowed to give those folks another 13 weeks of benefits.
I’m not sure which side I’m rooting for.
The poor economy is prompting a lot of people to prepare for new careers. Too many people. The Maine Community College System says applications are up 20 percent over last year, which may force the schools to turn away some potential students.
Among the most popular classes: how to run an Internet scam involving phony British inheritances.
Finally, an update on last week’s news about that proposed topless coffee shop in Vassalboro. It was approved by the local planning board on Jan. 6, in spite of considerable public opposition.
Board members said they couldn’t yield to that pressure and reject the application, because the town’s ordinances didn’t address the issue of what staff in coffee shops are supposed to wear. Or not wear.
You know what would make everyone feel better about having their quiet, rural lives disrupted by this intrusion of java and jiggles?
A nice stuffed wildebeest head on the wall.
You can trust me on this. I’m British, and I’m about to inherit a fortune.
Al Diamon can be e-mailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.