When we talk about the brain drain – what happens when someone grows up in Lincoln County, moves away after high school, and never returns – we often talk about the reasons why young people choose to live and work elsewhere. They want the conveniences of city life. The excitement. Avocado toast. Uber.
Well, millennials have one less reason to ever leave. Lincoln County has its first (to his knowledge) Uber driver.
“Big Dave” Page, of Damariscotta, started driving for the ride-hailing service about six weeks ago.
A local businessman, civic leader, and musician, Page was considering his options for supplemental income. He didn’t want a hard-and-fast schedule or anything too grueling.
“What I’m looking for is just 20, 30 hours a week, a part-time job as I slide on into retirement,” he said. He also delivers flowers part time for Louis Doe’s.
As far as Page knows, he is the only Uber driver around. “My map shows all the Ubers that are around and I’m always the only one,” he said. His niece uses the app and hasn’t seen anyone else in the area either.
Business has been slow so far, with only a couple of customers a week.
Page doesn’t patrol the streets like Uber drivers in the city. But he lives near downtown Damariscotta, as good a location as any to find customers in Lincoln County.
“I can be in my car in five seconds and gone,” he said.
He is happy to make trips to the airport in Portland or other destinations out of town in his 2016 Ford Edge crossover. When he ventures out of town, into more populous areas, the app starts to light up.
“One day I went to Brunswick and was there about 10 minutes, then I went from Brunswick to Bath to Portland to Kennebunk and then started working my way back,” he said.
As the holiday season approaches and prodigal sons and daughters return home for Thanksgiving, an uptick in calls seems likely. He will be “ready and able” to respond to calls, including the odd late-night call from local pubs.
Page often turns off the Uber app after 6 p.m., but invites anyone who needs a ride to call him anytime at 350-0588.
The brain drain is a serious problem for Maine, and it will take more than one Uber driver to solve it. But in the meantime, tell your college student they can come home now, and give Big Dave some business.