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Toter, we’re not in Manteca anymore

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POSTED January 3, 2010 1:33 a.m.

Dorothy was driving her 1975 Yugo on the Highway 120 Bypass in a fierce summer wind storm.

The gale force wind was so powerful that sand was literally twirling and turning the usual blue sky brown as tumbleweeds bounced off her car.

Then, without warning, a gust of wind lifted her Yugo and faithful dog Toter off the road and dropped them in a place she could only dream about.

Her Yugo landed squarely on the Slob Neighbor to the East scattering disabled cars, piles of boxes, weeds and other trash that had been piled in front of the home to the four winds.

Dorothy awoke to the sound of giddy neighbors on Munchkin Court.

DOROTHY: “Toter, where are we?”

GIDDY NEIGHBOR:  “Don’t you know? You’re in the Land of Odd.”

Dorothy rubbed her eyes and looked around. To her amazement she found well-kept front yards with green grass absent of 6-foot weeds. There were no vehicles parked on the lawns and not a Toter in sight.

DOROTHY: “Toter, I don’t think we’re in Manteca anymore.”

All of a sudden a burst of hot August wind brought empty beer cans, dried out Christmas trees, and remnants of a collapsed shed swirling through the sky. Amid the debris and confusion, Dorothy was startled to hear the cackling of the notorious Land of Odd resident - the Slob Neighbor to the West.

SLOB NEIGHBOR TO THE WEST: “What have you done to the neighborhood!?!?! Where are my pal’s five piles of boxed junk stacked in front of the garage!?!?? What happened to the discarded refrigerator?!?!?!?!”

DOROTHY: “We were just sleeping and dreaming of a Manteca where everyone actually maintained their property when ......”

SLOB NEIGHBOR TO THE WEST: “You! You destroyed my friend’s delicate eco-garbage system!”

With that, a bubble started descending from the sky.

Inside was Gwen, the Good Code Enforcement Officer. As Gwen landed, this caused the Slob Neighbor to the West to flip out and yell at Dorothy as she pointed an accusatory finger.

SLOB NEIGHBOR TO THE WEST: “Ah ha! Just as I thought! You called the code enforcement officer, didn’t you?”

DOROTHY: “No, I didn’t. Toter and I were just driving down the Highway 120 Bypass....”

SLOB NEIGHBOR TO THE WEST: “Don’t give me that Malarkey. Everyone knows code enforcement officers just don’t pop up out of nowhere to enforce municipal property maintenance ordinances. It takes the act of a do-gooder witch like you. I’ll deal with you in a second my little neat freak as well as your cute little Toter by piling garbage up against your property line. But for now, where are my keys to the six boats and tow trailers my pal keeps parked in his driveway stacked with junk?”

With the wave of a citation book, Gwen the Code Enforcement Officer magically removed all of the keys and combined them together on a ruby red key chain that encircled Dorothy’s left ankle.

SLOB NEIGHBOR TO THE WEST: “Give me those keys, you little neat freak.”

GWEN THE GOOD CODE ENFORCEMENT OFFICER: “Don’t give her the keys, Dorothy. If you do, she’ll only start them up and move them to the yellow patch of dead grass adjoining your fence in full view of your front window.”

With that Dorothy was instructed to seek out the Council of Five Wizards and to follow the road lined with toppled Toters. Along the way she picks up a Scarecrow trying to figure out what way to go from reading A-frame signs, a Tin Man upset about potholes in his neighborhood, and a Lion growling about how the city doesn’t do anything about his concerns.

Soon they were at the palace of the Council of Wizards

DOROTHY: “Sirs, we are here because we simply want all of the property management ordinances that you pass enforced. And I’d like to see all of the beautiful things you have here in The Land of Odd repeated back home. It reminds me of about dreaming one day of a place over the Altamont called Pleasanton. It is the difference between viewing the world in living color or just in shades of black, white and gray back in Manteca.”

The Wizards mumbled something about putting new laws in effect and Dorothy is crestfallen.

With that Gwen, the Good Code Enforcement Officer reappears.

GWEN THE GOOD CODE ENFORCEMENT OFFICER:”Dorothy, you’ve always had the power to clean-up your neighborhood. If after talking to your neighbor about it doesn’t work and it’s still bugging you, all you have to do is go to and make an online report.”

With that Dorothy awakes to find herself surrounded by concerned neighbors.

CONCERNED NEIGHBOR: “You were out for such a long time. We were worried.”

DOROTHY: “It was so beautiful. I was in a place where everyone took pride in their neighborhood and no one left their Toters out in full view of the street 24/7.”

CONCERNED NEIGHBOR: “You were right Joe. She’s suffered a major head trauma. Better call 911.”

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