The (seemingly) ordinary Maine woman keeps our state running. Not the VIPs, not the “experts” on TV touting project X, Y and Z. (Anyone for skiing at yet another heavily leveraged tourist attraction?) Not the media tycoons, nor those beings from another universe: Veterans Affairs, Social Security, the Internal Revenue Service.

When you really need help pronto, as I did, and dialed the Secretary of State’s Office and reached, on the first call, a real, live Maine woman – not an endless loop of messages instructing me to go away – there you have hit pay dirt, mes amis.

Abby is on the ball. I explain what must to her be the hundredth – nay, thousandth – time she has heard the same request: i.e. Is our paperwork as a dog rescue nonprofit out of order? Are we late filing a form or not? Are we still – gasp – legal?

Abby says, “Hold on” and goes off a bit before coming back with good news and not-so-good news. The good news is that we are still legit as far as her bureaucracy is concerned; the bad news, she says, is “you need to file a form … that nominates a new clerk.” Then, in that yummy phrase unique to Maine, she says, “You have plenty of time for that, and then you’re all set.” She tells me to go online and find said form, so I do. Bless you, Abby.

Is this system of government efficient or not? It is every time I reach a woman – always a woman at the middle or lower level of management. Need a license to renew a mobile vendor gig? No sweat. Done. Need to double-check on that “electrician” who screwed up the off-on light switches? Can do. Can the sweet young woman running my local post office possibly find a cheaper way to send a package? Yes, she can.

And this competence extends to the governance of my community (population 1,200) in the persona of two ladies who compose one and a half town clerks per the town budget but who actually know more about local regulatory systems than anyone else – and whose historical memory is not to be challenged. Ever.

I asked town clerk Rosie about a recently sold property that became a nasty home to well over eight hungry and shivering dogs of indeterminate breed that clearly needed intervention from our animal control officer. Within an hour, Rosie had name and vital information in hand. And the animal control officer on the case. Try getting that response from an IRS agent.

These are the people who actually run our state. I imagine most get a state or municipal job out of high school or college and stay with it their entire working lives; they’re not paid a whole lot, but they get decent benefits – and they are worth every single penny of my taxes.

These women are the unheralded backbone of Maine. They are our neighbors, with kids and grandkids and basic common and fashion sense, who keep family photos pasted to their computers, including the latest newborn member of the family. In this season, I ask you to herald and thank our extraordinary Maine women.

That done, we’re all set.