Down East 2013 ©
Last winter, a U.S. Census worker showed up in my isolated neighborhood with plastic bags full of fun facts and even funner forms. I had just finished shoveling my front porch, so I walked down to meet her.
“Are there more houses up there?” she asked, pointing toward the part of our road that doesn’t get plowed. “My map shows two more places.”
“Yes,” I said, “but there’s nobody there in the winter.”
She eyed the six-foot snowdrifts blocking the way. “I still have to leave these packages for them,” she said. “It’s a rule.”
I’m big on following the rules. Well, some rules. Although none that come readily to mind.
“There won’t be anybody there until summer,” I said. “How about you give that stuff to me, and I’ll pass it on to them then?”
Of course, by summer, the population counting would be long over. But I could tell by the way the census worker looked at those deep drifts covering the road – not to mention a couple of trees that had fallen, partially blocking access – that giving me the forms was an appealing option, rules or no rules.
After a brief tussle with her conscience, she handed the packages over and departed. I took them inside and threw them in the wood stove.
Now, I’m filled with remorse for my rash violation of federal rules. The official census numbers were released on Dec. 21 , and they show that Maine’s population grew by only 4.2 percent over the past decade, far less than such icky states as Nebraska (6.7 percent), Alabama (7.5 percent) and Nevada (a whopping 35.1 percent, which just goes to show how attractive a potential nuclear-waste dump site can be).
If only I’d delivered those forms as promised. We could have beaten Mississippi (4.3 percent) or even Connecticut (4.9 percent).
Although, in my defense, I’m not the only one who contributed to our feeble figures. Ann LePage also deserves some of the blame. She’s the wife of Paul LePage, Maine’s governor-elect, and at the time the census was conducted, she was officially a resident of Florida (17.6 percent population increase).
The Sunshine State didn’t need her. Maine did.
Mrs. LePage and I can take some solace in the fact that this state’s mediocre numbers will not cost us a congressional seat – yet. But population experts are already warning that when the next census is conducted in 2020, we won’t be so lucky. One of our two remaining districts will be eliminated, and the northern part of Maine will be sold off to Canada.
The problem is our birth rate. Mainers aren’t having enough babies. This can be attributed to several factors, such as the fact that a lot of us are old and cranky and aren’t about to clutter up our nice, comfortable lives with a bunch of rug rats demanding to be changed, fed, educated and supported until they can find a real job, by which I mean something other than temp work as a census worker.
Like I have thirty years to devote to that.
Also, many of those who aren’t too old are using lots of birth control. And those who aren’t are generally too unattractive to find mates. Also, due to abstinence-only sex education programs, many Mainers of child-bearing age don’t actually know where babies come from.
For the record, there are currently 1,328,361 people in the state. Plus Ann LePage, who was forced to return to vote for her husband. So, that makes 1,328,362. Could be the start of a trend.
In other LePage-related news of the week, the governor-elect took a bold and visionary step to keep people in their prime reproductive years from leaving Maine for more lucrative job opportunities elsewhere. He hired his 22-year-old daughter to work in his administration. 
Lauren LePage will be the assistant to the governor’s chief of staff, a position that pays $41,000 a year. Among her duties will be handling administrative chores and encouraging people of her generation to have babies.
As for questions about nepotism, the LePage administration isn’t concerned. They say Lauren got the job based on her experience (she just graduated from college with a degree in an unrelated field) and her commitment to Maine.
Unless she couldn’t find a job here. In which case, she was planning to move back to Florida with her mother.
That would have reduced our population to 1,328,360. Say goodbye to the 2nd Congressional District.
In preparation for the possible loss of the forested part of the state, Central Maine Power, Maine’s largest electrical utility, has removed the pine tree from its logo .
The new logo features a blue drop, symbolizing the state’s low birth rate; an orange blob, conveying the leathery skin color of old people; and a green thingy, meant to represent Lauren LePage’s paycheck.
In other positive economic news, downtown Portland has finally found a business to occupy the massive empty space on Congress Street that once was filled with a L.L. Bean outlet store, as well as the massive soon-to-be-empty space next door that’s currently an Olympia Sports. The new company is a recruiting firm that finds jobs in Florida for Maine citizens of child-bearing age.
Oops, sorry. It’s actually a Renys department store , a no-nonsense Maine institution that exemplifies our native belief that we don’t need no stinkin’ apostrophes (well, except for when there’s a dropped letter or somethin’.) The companys (you thought I was kidding about not needing ‘em, didn’t ya?) fourteenth location will open in the spring.
More signs of a massive in-migration to Maine: Kevin Boles, previously of Greenville, South Carolina, is moving here. That brings our population to 1,328,363. Boles will be the new manager of the Portland Sea Dogs , the Double-A minor-league affiliate of the Boston Red Sox. Boles replaces Arnie Beyeler, who was promoted to the Sox Triple-A team in Pawtucket, Rhode Island.
Wait, that knocks us back down to 1,328,362.
Al Diamon did his part to boost Maine’s population by counting his three dogs on his census form. And as dependents on his income tax form. He’s also trying to get them high-paying jobs in the LePage administration. If you know of any openings for positions that pay at least $41,000 a year and don’t mind a little shedding, e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org .