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When the pigeons come home to roost you’d better watch out

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POSTED September 14, 2009 1:52 a.m.

Gina M. Roos had every right to be upset after her recent experience at the East Yosemite Avenue McDonald’s in Manteca.

That the terrible and upsetting experience happened twice – the first time with her 2-year-old and 3-year-old, and the next visit with her mom makes it inexcusable. I have to give Roos credit for being a trusting person, although I wouldn’t be surprised if her trusting nature has suffered a nosedive after what happened to her.

In her letter to the editor, (“Questions McDonald’s commitment to kids’ safety”, Manteca Bulletin, Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2009) Roos wrote about taking her two young children in the indoor play area during a visit to the fast-food restaurant. While watching them at play, the emergency exit door facing the street suddenly opened and a man simply walked into the room. That door is supposed to be locked to the outside at times and should not be accessible to anybody from the outside, the horrified Roos told the manager when she went to complain about this breach of safety at the business establishment.

Thinking perhaps that the problem had been solved once and for all, Roos and her children, and this time with her mother in tow, went back to the same McDonald’s in Manteca. I can just imagine her surprise when the same thing happened. This time she was not there because she had taken her daughter to the bathroom, but her mother and son saw a man walk into the children’s enclosed and supposedly secure play area from outside through the same emergency door that should have been locked.

Needless to say, there won’t be any third visit from this Escalon family to this McDonald’s. Henceforth, they are going to Chuck E. Cheese’s, an angry Roos promised.

I don’t blame the family’s exodus from the Manteca Golden Arches on East Yosemite Avenue.

In the same way, I can’t blame my husband for not wanting to return to Wendy’s on East Highway 120 in Manteca any time soon.

Order pick-up
window is for the  birds

In my better-half’s case, the incident did not involve a potential two-legged menace but rather feathered friends that appeared bent on claiming ownership to the famous put-down phrase “bird brain.” The foolishly brave - or should that be “courageously foolish?” - birds appeared to be looking for a quick way to the restaurant’s fryers. Either that, or straight to my husband’s food tray.

Well, at least, an undesirable by product almost did. Just how undesirable? So undesirable even the brave birds were getting rid of it, and it fell straight onto the top of my husband’s head where he was standing in the “order pick up” counter. Fortunately, not in the food tray! Reacting instinctively, he raised a hand to brush off whatever it was that unexpectedly knighted him. As he stared at his hand, then to the mud-like and mustard-colored splatters at his feet, his eyes quickly flew overhead to the large air vent in the ceiling directly above him and straight into the feet and feathers of birds -pigeons? - that appeared to have nested there.

 My husband did not make a scene, but he was also concerned. He quietly and unobtrusively went into the men’s room and cleaned up. Then he brought the food to where Grandma Risso and I were waiting at a window table and we all proceeded to eat our lunch. As soon as the long line of customers was gone, my husband made his way over to the counter and explained the potentially serious matter to the manager. The manager on duty assured my husband that the problem will be taken care of immediately.

In a matter of minutes, we saw an employee come out of the kitchen area with a mop and a pail of water.

I commented that it will be a long while before I dare step into Wendy’s again. My husband echoed my sentiments, albeit alluding to a longer time span which surprised me since Wendy’s is his favorite fast food in town. But considering his expertise in the heating/air conditioning industry - he has been with Delta A/C Supply, the Lathrop company (owned by Mantecans Melvyn and Joan Kauffman) for nearly three decades and so his knowledge and understanding of the inner workings of heat/air systems is far superior than mine - his reaction came at no surprise. After a quick lecture on how air circulates in a building’s series of duct systems, I quietly surmised that it would be quite a while indeed before he sets foot at Wendy’s again.

I wasn’t as stringent in my own decision. As long as management corrects the potentially serious health hazard right away, I did not have a problem. To make sure, I placed a phone call to the restaurant early in the evening and talked to the manager. She assured me that everything was taken care of that same afternoon. She even offered to give my husband a free meal if he decided to come and have lunch the following day.

I relayed the message to my husband. He answered thanks, but no thanks. He just did what needed to be done, he said.

Pigeons create problems
throughout Manteca

The experience though got me thinking about a lot of things avian in Manteca. The birds, in particular the omnipresent pigeons throughout the city, have caused a number of concerns for not just a few businesses in town. There are, for example, the helicopter-propeller type of things atop the old LOF building downtown. Those are supposed to scare away the birds from turning the building into their own permanent point of address. Hordes of them also have been spotted atop the old aerial sign, “Super Buffet,” at the Chinese restaurant next to the Best Western Hotel on the west side of Highway 99 on East Yosemite Avenue. The other hotel across the street north of Staples also has become a favorite playground for these birds.

In other cities like Fremont, the birds have caused financial as well as structural concerns - not to mention health and safety hazards - because of intrusive nests being built under the eaves, not to mention the unsightly constant deposits they leave on the roofs and on the ground. I have seen a few of the pigeons on the tile roofs of a number of houses in Lathrop; however, I have yet to hear anybody complaining about overstaying birds hijacking their roofs.

 But I have seen them making residence and rearing families in a number of traffic lights, such as the one next to the Manteca Bulletin on Fremont Street and the lights directly above the middle of Yosemite Avenue. Somewhere in my photo hard drives, I have pictures of them ensconced in their comfortable traffic-light nests. But after city crews cleaned up all the lights, that’s the last I’ve seen of these wily birds - at least at these particular locations.
To contact Rose Albano Risso, e-mail or call (209) 249-3536.

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