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It’s those dang tweakers

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POSTED July 17, 2014 12:58 a.m.

Monday morning I stopped by my mother’s house while she was on vacation. She had asked that I’d water the lawn while she is gone. I remembered seeing a box of brown sugar cinnamon Pop Tarts there the week before – so I was more than happy to help out.

Like most Americans these days between the ages of 18-50, checking out the world’s news via social media is the ritual de lo habitual. It was on Facebook that I noticed friend Bill Olson had posted a story about 3 VW buses being stolen from the parking lot of a Manteca hotel. By now many of you have heard about a large tractor-trailer carrying 3 customized VW van conversions being heisted. These were Tillamook Cheese vans from Oregon, on a tour up and down the West Coast promoting the dairy-cheese industry. The cool vans have been converted to look like actual blocks of Tillamook cheese, and are valued at $100,000 each. Part of multiple charitable events, the extremely recognizable vans are the showcase pieces of the company – besides that delicious cheese. Like any prideful Mantecan, this made my blood boil. Seeing our towns name as the culprit city on different broadcast newsfeeds is unacceptable but to Bill Olson it was a complete affront to his senses.

The 1989 Manteca High graduate works as an engineer for Tillamook, and now resides in Cape Mears, OR. The thought of Bill sitting around at a meeting two weeks prior to the tour saying “Oh yeah, stop by and stay the night in my hometown while in Central California you’ll be safe as kittens” ran through my head. Friends were fuming on Facebook. In one fell swoop a shot had been fired at our town, the dairy industry, and one of our native sons. “The tweakers must’ve done it” was the prevailing thought. (For those over 60, tweaker is the commonly used term for a meth addict).  Too often we blame the towns drug addicted miscreants when theft happens. I like to remind people that theft pre-dates meth use by thousands of years. There is no 11th Commandment stating “Thou shall not tweak” though I’m certain God is considering adding that amendment.

Whoever did this is a thief, plain and simple. I know many tweakers that don’t steal, and are content with tinkering away with whatever small engine needs fixing in their garage, without sinking to the level of thievery, yet I digress. Pop Tart in mouth, I headed out to the lawn. Unable to find mom’s sprinkler, I gave her a call.

“Someone stole my sprinkler right of the hose in the front yard.” Damn tweakers!! Who steals a sprinkler?! And more to the point, why hadn’t my mother’s children sprang for an automated system in her old age? So there I was doing the old thumb in the end of the hose version of a sprinkler, when her even numbered address screamed “we are in a drought stupid.and it’s not your day”. (I may or may not have made this part of the story up, depending of course on who is reading) Fifteen minutes had gone by, which according to Facebook protocol, meant I needed to check my phone, and see if anybody had posted an interesting video of a cat playing piano  — and there it was, the horrible news spreading that the truck and trailer had been found torched in the foothills. People were consoling Bill, and most suspected the worst. Why would someone do such a thing? Was it a joyride gone bad? Did they get out in the foothills and decided they were over their heads? Then the news broke that it was only the truck and trailer, no buses. Very sneaky tweakers, excuse me, thieves.  Surely those beautiful buses were being stripped and shipped. The day ended and hope faded.

The worst part of theft, besides what it inflicts on the property owner, is that it tears at a community’s trust. The old timers talk about leaving their doors open, and keys in their cars back in the day. Trust was woven directly into a town’s collective psyche. You knew your neighbors, and their neighbors knew you. It didn’t make much sense for Bob to steal Joe’s lawnmower, because undoubtedly Pete would see it at a barbeque in a few weeks. Our town is no longer 15,000, and families that have known each other for generations but it seems like it would make sense to get to know the people in your surrounding neighborhood building up small patches of trust throughout the town, will spur the growth of a town’s collective trust. We all live here, so it’s up to us to look out for one another’s property. “Thou shall not steal” may not mean much to some.but if it means something to the majority, it can be dealt with.

Oh and by the way, they found the buses Tuesday in a self-storage in Copperopolis. Chalk one up for the good guys! Manteca Police Chief Nick Obligacion and his theft task force nabbed the busses and several suspects Monday night and though he wouldn’t expand on the tips that lead to the capture and find. Bill Olson believes in his heart of hearts that good old Manteca pride – and some help from social media – are what lead to such a quick turnaround. “It was heart wrenching, I live in Cape Mears but my home will always be in Manteca, and currently Buffalo Pride is alive and well on the Oregon coast. I think answered prayers – and social media – had everything to do with the recovery.  I want to give a heartfelt thanks to everybody for spreading the word, and especially to Manteca’s boys in blue. The buses do charity work, and are irreplaceable” Now if they can just find my mother’s sprinkler, all would be right in our town.

Is it possible to
date in Manteca?

I often talk about this town having everything a person needs. It does for the most part, but is it possible to go on a date that takes place entirely in Manteca?

I got into a discussion with a female friend recently over my lack of dating. She feels the need to set me up but insists the date take place outside Manteca. Not that I require a home field advantage and not that I’m a dating expert by any means – three in the last 10 years. In the world of swooning, I agree the Mossdale Bridge is no Golden Gate, but can it be done? We have some great restaurants, a movie theater, but what else? Big League Dreams for a corn dog and a game?  I could take a woman on a walk through Nakata’s Nursery if it were 1985. Most Mantecans prefer a trip to the Bay Area in their attempts to win favor with their favorite gal or guy but what if you live in Grayson? It seems like our town would be a trip to France in comparison. It’s time I get back on that dating horse – done completely to prove my Manteca point. I asked around town “Is it possible to have a date happen solely in Manteca? What and where?” The answers may surprise you, and with a little encouragement, and a sponsorship from the Manteca Bulletin some female may just get to go on a date with Manteca to a T.Yes, I’m now using the column to solicit dates.

Here are a few suggestions

Sharon Zimmerman-Herrera:  Maybe it’s difficult for teens, but we enjoy dinner at Angelano’s with a little wine, a movie at the theater and a walk to the frozen yogurt place. Put some food and drinks in an ice chest, the dogs in the truck, drive out to Mossdale Park, Dos Reis Park or just to Lincoln Park, lay out a blanket, play with the dogs, eat, talk and enjoy being together.


 Nichole DeNay Tilton:  Start with a nice dinner (not as nice as Ernie’s). Then find a park or school having a “movie in the park” where you can lay on a blanket outside and watch a movie. Intimate, but not private enough to put on any pressure. If things go well you can go out for dessert, or a night cap. Avoid bars on a first date! It is impossible to talk at bars and there is always too much drama at bars. Save that for like the fifth date.



Justin Coenenberg: Ernie’s, ‘nuff said



D.J. Sandhu: Isadore’s is the best date night in town



 Barbie Brown Morgan: Out by the river, bottle of wine, pickup truck and good tunes on a warm starry night – best dates ever!!



 Joe C. Norris: I always took my dates to the Rocket at Shasta Park but that was a while ago.



 Chad Teicheira: Either Angelano’s or do high school status, get a frosty from Wendy’s and show them how amazing it is to dip fries in them while chilling at a park. Cheap romantic and alone.



 Sabrina Baxter: No, you cannot date in Manteca



 Elizabeth Avila: El Jardin! Two margaritas and an enlimonado burrito! Best date ever!



uToni Lundgren:  Bike ride on the bike path driving range and drinks at golf course, movies, Bass Pro, bowling! Good luck!



 Laurelle Martin: A sleeping bag in the back of a truck, a cooler of beverages and a night of irrigation. That’s for the farmers in the area. There’s lots.



uToni Demichelis-Zuk: What’s a date?



 Marilyn Sohm: Jason and I go to the batting cages and out to dinner somewhere, or the movies. Nothing too big, but we always have fun.



 Erika Richison Graddy: “Non-traditional” dates are more exciting and lends opportunity to see a person’s true character such as, volunteer work at community events, festivals, wineries, shelters. Not sure what happens in Manteca?  It can be fun for married people too. Most singles have “perfected” the traditional dinner and a movie date. Hmmm? Maybe I should write this article! Ha!



 Kerry Teicheira: Anywhere Chris, you aren’t getting any younger!

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