February 11th, 2007


In the way of the world...

It's been cold here, and thus there are, as one learns to expect, fires. House fires, dwelling fires... they become almost common, especially in an area where some people still depend on their woodlot to heat the house.

In the last week I've driven by the sites of several fires, not in progress. I wasn't being a gawker, I was just driving down the road. Usually what you see is plywood in the windows and smoke trails up the side of the building; sometimes what you see is broken windows and gaping roofs. Most often you see the news story or have seen the news story: "Family escapes destructive chimney fire," or "Family and Dogs safe, cats missing in Benton conflagration."

And then as I was wandering through the web and stopped by WMTW's site late last night I saw news of yet another fire, this one fatal. In nearby Waterville. There was the photo on the front page of the site... which was scary. Then I went to the story itself, because, after all, I know people in Waterville. Oh, oh, and oh.

Sigh. Colin Croteau, dead at age 65. He had a house in Waterville, where he lived alone, but as usual, he was living in the Winnebago in the driveway. He'd once told me that everyone would be happier if they lived in a Winnie, because they were so much cheaper to live in than a house. Likely, given sub-zero temps and high wind-chill, he'd been running the propane heater on high for days.

The rest of the story? I don't know the rest of the story. I'd worked with Colin when I was Sales Manager at Maine Computer Connection. He was moody sometimes, but often quick to smile and joke nonetheless; IIRC he'd been in the service in Viet Nam, which he didn't much talk about. He was a part-time computer tech for MCC: mostly he assembled machines, and installed software and smoked. On bad days, of which there were a few, I'd say he smoked and drank coffee, with the work fitting into the gaps.

Over the years he'd had his driver's license suspended -- I think for for driving while drinking -- and I can't say exactly when he stopped working at MCC because his attendance had been intermittent, as had the extra work we had. He'd had a side business of doing imprinting and did some work for MCC and other people.

I last saw him a couple weeks ago when we stopped each other and chatted for a few cold minutes in Waterville's rather windy Concourse, both nodding and waving our way toward warmer locations pretty quickly. He asked me if we were still writing, told me he was getting by, and off we went.

So, I last saw Colin Croteau a couple weeks ago. I wonder what ever happened, if anything, about the book he was going to write.
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