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Suit Yourself™ International Magazine #48: Maine Indian Giving

  

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Suit Yourself™ International Magazine #48

Maine Indian Giving 

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Upon request, reprint permission and an addendum of substantiating resources are available for all articles. When requesting reprint permission or addenda, please include the issue date and full issue title. All articles are copyright © Debra Spencer, Suit Yourself ™ International. All rights reserved. ISSN 2474-820X.
 

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MAINE INDIAN GIVING

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"The secret of life is honesty and fair dealing; if you can fake that you've got it made." - Groucho Marx.

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The Maine custom of INDIAN GIVING is truly unique.  Although variations exist elsewhere, Indian Giving as practiced in Maine exists nowhere else in the world, to the best of my knowledge.

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Variations of the behavior exist. Harpo Marx is dealing Mrs. Rittenhouse's cards, or rather not dealing them.
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Simple charitable gestures and actions commonly made elsewhere with impunity, such as gift-giving and donations, are problematic in Maine, where they have repercussions that will come back to haunt you. So much caution is required when giving anything to anyone in Maine that it is probably wiser to avoid charitable gifts and agreements altogether.  

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Giving gifts to Maine natives has serious consequences. 1935,  A Night At The Opera, Groucho Marx throws peanuts to the opera audience.
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Agreements in Maine are subject to reversal at any time, and since no agreement is ever final, agreements are essentially worthless. Nowhere is this more obvious than with the giving of gifts. Maine natives reserve their right to change their minds at any time, and they do so reliably without considering the repercussions to others. 

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Maine agreements are subject to change without notice, Casablanca, 1942, Claude Rains says to Humphrey Bogart, as the Gestapo closes the casino, and Claude Rains has collected his winnings, "I'm shocked, SHOCKED, to find that gambling is going on in here."
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Maine natives assiduously avoid taking responsibility for their own decisions. Maine natives  "give back" e.g. "back out of" any assumed responsibilities they decide they no longer want for any reason at any time by simply deciding they never accepted the responsibility in the first place. This deep seated self-serving attitude has equally deep and very wide spread repercussions.

        
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Maine natives assiduously avoid taking responsibility,  Coconuts; Harpo Marx hidden booze under his coat, while the plain clothes policeman has hidden his badge.
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Maine natives won't give away anything they still consider useful and they are not a generous people. I have known them to "forgive" a debt to relieve their guilt when it was discovered they substantially overcharged in the first place.  I have lived here for over two decades, and I still receive occasional letters from Maine lawyers I never heard of, billing me for services for which I never contracted.

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Chico to Groucho in A Night At The Opera: "There ain't no Sanity Clause".
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Maine natives accept gifts only conditionally. Should they decide in the future that they no longer want something, they'll promptly shed any feelings of responsibility for having accepted the gift in the first place. Years, even decades later, Maine natives will return a gift they accepted, but no longer want, as if they had borrowed it, regardless of any burden this may impose, regardless of how long they've had something, regardless of whether or not they used the object, and regardless of the gift's current condition. You gave it to them, and thus it's yours, forever, so long as they don't want to use it.

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Thelma Todd in Monkey Business,1931,"TAKE IT BACK!".
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US law states that whomever possesses an object is legally responsible for the behavior of that object; possession is nine-tenths of the law. The law says that once you possess an object, you "own" it, and if the object is found misbehaving, the owner is held responsible -- regardless of how long you've had the object and regardless of whether or not you've used the object. Legally, "gift","To Gift", "To Give AWAY",  includes legal transfer of ownership responsibility upon acceptance, and acceptance is considered FINAL. The giver does not want to keep the gift; they don't want the gift  back, and they give up any legal claim to it once they've given it away. Legally nothing can be "given" without transferring legal ownership, and you can't give something back without again transferring ownership.

This law is ignored in Maine, and Maine behavior is probably one reason the law has been needed in the first place.

Imagine a husband returning their wife to her parents after 20 years because they've found someone else; well, Welcome to Maine. 

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Finding someone else, Groucho Marx, The Marx Brothers in Go West, 1940.
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Maine natives complete extensive job interviews, accept responsible job positions, and then never start work. This has happened to me countless times when hiring people here.

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They accept jobs and then never start work. Groucho Marx, The Marx Brothers in Go West, 1940.
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Maine natives quit jobs without notice whenever they feel like it, most often right after being paid. Paydays show the most attrition.

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Paydays show the most attrition. Groucho Marx, The Marx Brothers, in Go West, 1940.
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When Maine natives can't afford upkeep on a car, they'll abandon purchased motor vehicles rather than bother to find a suitable owner.


        
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Groucho Marx in Animal Crackers, 1930, as Captain Spaulding, is carried in.
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Automobiles purportedly demolished by one Maine auto insurance company turned up later due to an attached custom license plate; the new buyers of the car didn't like the plate, they lived in another state, and traced the ownership of the car to me, saying they had to have my permission to remove it. I have also had authorized Maine car dealers knowingly sell me cars with cracks in the engine blocks.

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"Scram , I think I see a sucker coming now. Get out of here! From A Night At The Opera.
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Authorized name-brand car rental dealers here have knowingly rented me cars with brakes they knew would fail. 

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Groucho's Freedonia vehicular unit does not start, but Harpo's does, and Harpo goes on. From Duck Soup.

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Maine natives will never reveal all the facts relevant to any situation; they'll simply claim they didn't know. 

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They'll just tell you they don't know. Groucho Marx in Animal Crackers, 1930, as Captain Spaulding telling the Pajamas Elephant joke.
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Real estate, land purchases, and expensive items are particularly subject to dishonorable "disclosure". 

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Property is often misrepresented: Harpo's exploding piano from A Night At The Opera.
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Maine woods are considered suitable "transfer station" dump alternatives, because dumping in the woods is free and "transfer station" dumps charge a fee. The debris in the woods behind the land I purchased on Islesboro Island in Maine was hauled off island at my expense because the local "transfer station" was unable to dispose of it. It required twenty seven ferry runs to the mainland.

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Dumping in the woods is free; from Horse Feathers.
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One Maine moving company, advertising themselves as complete professional relocation services, was unable to afford sufficient vehicles to arrive simultaneously to pack and transport a home; instead they arrived on the designated moving day with only one small truck, filled this, and then left the property unattended while they made a round trip to Maine and back. In spite of an explicit written contract, they held the truck contents hostage upon arrival and demanded payment for that one trip. 

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The Marx Brothers in Go West, 1940, train and house, with Harpo exiting the house door.
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Once, in the recent past, I had started a new online business; I'd worked so hard, I'd been invisible and felt it was time to see my neighbors. 

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1935, A Night At The Opera, Groucho  to Harpo through the ship's portholes.

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I decided to hold a little party and sent out party invitations. When nobody responded, I telephoned everyone I'd invited. 

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From A Day At The Races."Here's your Florida call, Mr. Whitmore."
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They all told me they don't attend parties because it obligates them in some way, e.g. they believed they would be asked to buy something, bring something, or invite me back.  This was a truly remarkable response considering this was just a simple informal get-together. I'd had no idea that giving parties was socially unacceptable and needless to say, I never did it again. 

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Groucho and Zeppo in Duck Soup, 1933: "I've got a good mind to ring his door bell and run."
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Original ownership is carefully tracked in Maine; directions to historical places are usually given using the original owner's name, e.g. "The McDoogle's House" rather than the official name e.g. "The Court House",  in spite of the McDoogle family having died 100 years ago and dozens of other owners of the designated building having come and gone. 

    
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Publicity still for A Day At The Races, 1937. 
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All this behavior is one reason we have US laws regarding possession and responsible accountability, and state divorce laws.

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Harpo, as Dog Catcher, also catches the policeman.
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In Maine, Indian Giving reigns. No agreement is reliable. Contracts in Maine are pointless. Nobody's word means anything. No gift Is ever final. No sale is ever final. Gifts given in Maine come back to haunt you, at the receiver's convenience, often years later. 

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The Marx Brothers in Go West, 1940, the maypole as they go round and round shaking hands.
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The few small businesses in Maine are services; many are seasonal only and this means decent jobs are scarce and committed loyal employees even scarcer. Small business growth in Maine is a joke, a self-perpetuating oxymoron. Most pad their bills. 

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The Marx Brothers in A Day At The Races, 1937. Groucho and Chico in the famous Tootsie Fruitsie Ice Cream Scam scene.
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Living in Maine is very expensive, probably for the same reasons as stores that accept returns have no choice but to charge you considerably more for that privilege in order to stay in business. 

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Living in Maine is very expensive; the Marx Brothers and play money.
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Even Santa doesn't shop in Maine, probably because he doesn't believe in returns.

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Groucho Marx is Santa Claus.
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I'm not saying that the dishonesty, ethical, moral and financial poverty, corruption, petty thieving, exclusivity, prejudice, bigotry, hostility, suspicion, and general unlawful behavior is worse in Maine than elsewhere, and I don't mean to imply that. There's scum everywhere.  

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Groucho, Harpo, and Chico; the Marx brothers as see no evil, hear no evil,  speak no evil.
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What I am saying is it's more obvious in Maine, if only because the population is sparser than in major cities, crime has fewer choices from which to steal and doesn't bother to hide. This also makes the situation more obdurate as there are no options for changing or overcoming it. 

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Hands up! From Room Service.
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The Cowboys of the Wild West were said to have braved wagon train rides through wild injun territory just to be able to see wide open prairie spaces and to breath non-city air. 

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The loaded train from Go West.
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Those explorers were loaded with ammunition, rode horses, took along scouts, and traveled in groups for protection. 

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The Go West Special Caboose.
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Maine's remarkable scenery is likewise viewable in direct proportion to the risks and difficulties you'll encounter here in order to experience it.  Get some archery practice; deer are still killed here using bows and arrows.  

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Harpo plays a harp made from a loom, and the Indian plays the flute made from an arrow shaft, in Go West. 
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Consider the trade offs, and don't arrive without loaded six gun shooters, clean colt revolver barrels, and lots of ammunition. 

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Groucho, with guns.
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As the saying goes, with friends like these, you won't need enemies. This is the Wild East, and it isn't going to change. 

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The Marx Brothers in Go West.

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Thanks for reading.
 
Best Wishes,
Debra Spencer


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171215 Suit Yourself™ International Maine Indian Giving  All Content is © Debra Spencer, Suit Yourself International. Technical Library FAQ Index ISSN
2474-820X. All Rights Reserved

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All Content is © Debra Spencer, Suit Yourself™ International. Technical Library FAQ Index ISSN 2474-820X. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce in part or in whole without express written consent. Thank you.
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All Content is ©2019 Debra Spencer, Appanage™at www.suityourself.international Suit Yourself ™ International, 120 Pendleton Point, Islesboro Island, Maine, 04848, USA 44n31 68w91 Technical Library FAQ Index ISSN 2474-820X. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce in part or in whole without express written consent. Thank you.

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All Content is ©2019 Debra Spencer, Appanage™at www.suityourself.international Suit Yourself ™ International, 120 Pendleton Point, Islesboro Island, Maine, 04848, USA 44n31 68w91 Technical Library FAQ Index ISSN 2474-820X. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce in part or in whole without express written consent. Thank you.
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