Kudos to the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency for their quick and professional takedown of a “bad dude” last week. I know it was a pro operation because it happened in front of my eyes.
Here is the story. Last Monday, I drove one of Linekin Bay Resort’s international students to Brunswick. He wanted to catch the Downeaster to Boston, where he would meet up with some friends and do a bit of touring before going home to Europe.
When the train rumbled into the station, he got on board, so I waved good-bye and headed to my car when this bad-looking dude brushed by me. He looked like one of the skinheads you see on the TV news yelling slogans. You know, shaved head, ratty T-shirt, a jacket. And, I noticed he had tucked his black trousers into the top of his boots, kind of like a soldier wanna-be.
As he reached the sidewalk, I noticed a smallish man walk up behind the “bad dude.” Then four others surrounded him. I could see their badges hanging from chains around their necks. He started to struggle and was quickly convinced it was not a good idea.
Seconds later, he was handcuffed and seated on a large rock as the police talked on their radios calling for someone to transport this guy somewhere.
The “bad dude,” who seconds before looked so threatening, now looked sort of meek and had a resigned air about him as he waited quietly.
I thought about taking a picture with my smartphone and approaching them but rejected it as I didn’t want to engage in a First Amendment argument with a bunch of undercover cops who were just doing their duty and doing it pretty well.
So, I just drove off and made it home in time for dinner.
Later, the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency identified him as John Kaula, 44. They said he was carrying 108 grams of methamphetamine, valued at $10,000, and planned to sell it in Cumberland and Androscoggin counties.
He was charged with a variety of drug violations.
Attention on deck: The smoking lamp is out
The other day, I drove up to the Veterans Administration facility at Togus to meet with a doctor for a regular appointment. It was a stunning day, with bright sunshine and warm breezes.
Outside one of the buildings, a man was sitting on a bench smoking a cigarette. I smiled and said something about it being a nice day.
He scowled at me and said it was OK. Then he went into a rant about the government and how they want to control everybody’s lives. After about 45 seconds, he got to the point.
“This is the last day you can smoke on VA property, and it is a pain,” he said.
I guess it is a bit ironic as they were telling this old veteran he couldn’t smoke on their property. It was not too long ago that they sold cut-rate cigarettes at post exchanges.
In Vietnam, I remember buying a carton of Marlboros for about $2.50. We were issued “C” rations (meal packets) that included a canned meal you could heat up. Someone always complained when they opened their rations and found they had picked a meal containing a can of ham and Lima beans. There was a can of fruit and a small packet of cigarettes.
So, on one hand, 50 years ago, the government encouraged you to smoke by selling cut-rate cigarettes and even giving them away. Today, they forbid you to smoke at the veterans facility.
I know, I know, it is the right thing to do. Smoking causes a host of ailments, and even secondhand smoke is bad for your friends and neighbors. But, looking at the old vets at Togus, there are a lot of guys who are in pretty bad shape with one ailment or another. Some can hardly get around at all. Many have smoked for most of their adult lives. I wonder if it matters if they are permitted to smoke in the few years they have left.
Lastly, I want to encourage you to stop at the Opera House and take in the show of photos by Bob Mitchell.
When I was the editor of the Register, I did lots of stupid things. But, the one thing I did right was to ask Bob to contribute a weekly photo that we could feature on the first page of the second section.
Bob is a great shooter who combines technical mastery with an artistic eye to create images that always remind us of why we all choose to live on the Maine coast.
Once again, Robert, well done.