Maine is just finishing what many are calling the most successful tourist season in years. Before long some state bureau will tell us – down to the last penny – just how much money each tourist left behind this summer while vacationing in Maine. Maybe it will give our state a boost on those studies that list the average family incomes in each of the 50 states. Maine seldom fares well i such surveys, often coming in50th - or dead last - out of the 50 states. What makes it even worse was that Mississippi often manages to edge us out, sliding into 49th place. That’s pretty bad because prior to that we could always count on Mississippi to be a little worse off than we are.
In past surveys, when asked why we had such a poor tourist season, some chamber of Commerce type will say that a lot of Mainers don't tell the truth when asked about their income because they don't think it's anybody's business how much they make – least of all the competition. That's just human nature. Most of us probably make more than we tell the government and less than we tell our friends.
Ask a lobsterman how his season is going and he's likely to say, “Worst season ever. I'm barely making enough to buy gas and bait.” We won't find out until later that it was a record-breaking season with over 100-million pounds of lobster harvested.
So I agree with that official who said that here in Maine most people don't like to give out too much information where their livelihood is concerned, least of all to some meddlesome official or prying reporter who's going to plaster it all over the local paper. Next thing you know, the television crowd gets wind of it and they'll be coming down to the dock for some pictures and an interview.
I was amused recently to read a newspaper article that was going on and on about how the tourist season could be one of the best ever. The statement was followed by interviews with various people asking the same question. I didn't read the whole thing, but I didn't have to. Here's what it would say.
A hot dog vendor - a tourist barometer if there ever was one – would say that his hot dog sales are off the charts and he shouldn’t even be talking to the press while his customers wait. In a normal tourist season he’d have time to chat but not this year. “Best season in memory,” the vendor kept saying. “I've never seen anything like it. I don't know where I’m supposed to find more hot dogs because even the grocery stores are selling out. I'll probably have to cose up and go home.
Next the reporter probably talked to the owner of a motel or bed and breakfast in some fashionable ocean sideresort who will say: “In a normal season my 'vacancy' sign goes up around Memorial Weekend and stays up til Columbus Day.”
No word yet on how Mississippi’s tourist season is going.