Maine Advice is going to be a monthly feature on featuring Nicole Ouellette (former advice columnist who misses the gig) and a guest columnist.
This month’s columnist is Betsy Arntzen, a licensed massage therapist with a practice in Ellsworth, Maine. She works at the University of Maine and serves as the secretary for the Downeast Business Alliance.  You can buy a gift certificate for Betsy’s services right here on Gift MDI!
Our goal is to find the Maine-est problems imaginable and solve them with different guest columnists every month. We think it’s a great way to get to know local business owners AND help people with their hyperlocal problems.

Dear GiftMDI,
My neighbor has plowed my driveway for 14 years, and our arrangement of “punch out” early in the morning followed by “clean up” later in the day has worked… up until it didn’t. After a January storm “punch out,” he didn’t come back. So, I called his house and his wife explained he was out scalloping. So, I called another plow company to do the clean up. Same thing happened after a second storm. The neighbor – back from scalloping – called to ask if I still wanted him to plow. I said “sure,”but do I?
Plowed But A Little Peeved

Betsy: The neighbor plows and also goes out scalloping, and scalloping is the important part of his story. Scallop season is very short, and may overlap with only a few snow storms. Can you talk with him or his wife about his continuing to plow, punch out and clean up for every snow storm except during scalloping season? You could ask that he arranges to get you cleaned out when he is away scalloping because you like to be cleaned out by a certain time. Communicating with the neighbor in a way that lets him know you understand his situation and allows him to make it right by you, will go a long way to being harmonious neighbors in every season.

Nicole: Yes, I feel it would be super awkward to fire a neighbor, and it sounds like he isn’t doing a bad job on purpose so much as two storms happened to line up with the 10ish days he can scallop each year. It sounds worth it to have the conversation because no doubt his other plowing customers wonder the same thing. Also, see if you can’t get in on buying some fresh scallops – that gives him another reason to come by your place to finish (plus fresh scallops are amazing).

Dear GiftMDI,
I found a chicken pecking in the dirt on the side of the road this morning, with no other chickens in sight. It was near a busy road and the area is mixed with businesses and residences. Is there anything I should have done for this chicken?
Why Did The Chicken Not Cross The Road

Betsy: Some people let their chickens run free in the yard so you might see several chickens pecking away by the side of the road. It’s ok to leave these alone. With just one chicken, look to see if there are others in the flock in a nearby yard, and again, its ok to leave these alone. If it is one chicken and you know something about raising chickens, you might see if anyone is home and if there is a chicken pen with the door open. If you don’t know anything about raising chickens, slow down in case the chicken wants to get to the other side of the road.

Nicole: I saw someone post to a local Facebook group that they had seen a chicken, put it in their car, and had it at work with them in a bin. (Times you regret not screenshotting as the post has since disappeared.)  I had so many feelings about this, mainly “Is putting a chicken in my car a great idea?” I decided to educate myself and went down the internet rabbithole of basic chicken maintenance. (Please appreciate when I typed in “how to pick up a chicken” into Google it autofilled after that “at a bar.” Ha.) Picking up/carrying chickens is more complicated than I thought so if it were me, I’d leave it then post to the internet (ideally a local Facebook group with hundreds of people in it) where I saw it, what I looked like, and the day/time I saw it.  This way someone who knows the chicken or owner can get the information to the right person.

Dear GiftMDI,
I let my friend borrow my pickup and she used it to haul trash. When she returned it, there was some trash still in the bed and no extra gas in the tank. I’m ok with her hauling trash, and I guess I’m glad she didn’t strip the gears or have a fender bender, however I want to talk to her about the courtesy of cleaning the truck and filling it with gas without sounding petty. How can I do this?
Don’t Want To Be A Dump Truck

Betsy: If you want to stay friends with her and all of her friends, you can chalk this up to “lesson learned”, you won’t lend your truck to her any more. And, you won’t lend it to anyone without the stipulation of it being returned clean and with more gas. If you plan to go into the truck lending business, get more assurance and insurance.

Nicole: Yes, if this person hasn’t learned borrowing courtesy by now, it’s not up to you to teach them. Say no next time and if they ask why, tell them the truth if you think they can handle it. Else this is a pretty harmless lesson learned type situation in the grand scheme of things.

Do you have a question you need Maine Advice on? Contact us. (We’ll happily make up a pseudonym for you or otherwise keep you anonymous, promise.)

Do you want to be a guest columnist and give your Maine Advice? Please live locally and contact us.

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