A strange new thing has been happening to me as of late. I run into various business owners, town officials, and people in positions of power in our town and realize that most are my former schoolmates – or people of my generation. When did I become an adult? Or more adequately, when did my peers – the people I grew up with in this town – take the reins and call them their own? It is both a proud and scary moment to realize that this is my generation’s time. Our time to be parents and raise families. Our time to become community leaders. Our time to show the generation above that we were indeed listening to them. And our time to impart some of that wisdom along to the generation growing under our feet.
These are the same people I've shared beers with at orchard parties in high school. The same people that like me, used to worry if their hair looked cool or if their acid washed pants were pegged correctly at the ankle because in the 80s that was all that mattered. And now we are the decisions makers?! Scary thought, right? How can my generation be expected to figure out world economics and global warming, when we didn't even realize that George Michael was gay right off the bat?! A group of people that went from neon pink hot shorts to hooded flannels in what seemed like the blink of an eye, but here we are with a ton of expectation on our shoulders.
We are the last generation that didn't have a computer readily available in the classroom. We are the generation willing to rely on technology but that isn't reliant upon it. Our “Google” was called the Encyclopedia Britannica. In those days, the only thing a computer did was allow me to kill off my friends while playing the Oregon Trail. Now we can head to Google maps and actually see the entire trail from the comfort of home.
I am only a few years older than the upcoming generation but feel worlds apart. In fact, I feel a much closer kinship to the generation above us – or even the one two generations above. Like them, we spent our time growing up outdoors; not camping in front of a video monitor. We may just be the last of a dying breed. People that had a much different definition of the word “play.” In my youth, heading to a friend’s house to “play” meant a day of running through orchards and vineyards, building forts or bike ramps, having full on dirt clod fights. We didn't lock ourselves in a room and play video games.
I think there is something to be said for building a little backbone and ingenuity. We had visceral experiences that involve skinned knees and bruised back sides, instead of blisters on our thumbs from holding an Xbox controller.
The people I see taking the helm in our area are people you can trust to not shy away from meeting adversity head on. They are people well suited to be that last bridge in the gap between my grandma that still doesn't trust cell phones and my 10-year-old nephew that is amazed there was ever a time without them.
I drive down Spreckels Avenue and see lifelong friend James Rogers and his business – California Landscaping – making our town look kept and livable. James is the same person who used to sneak out of his grandma Marie's house at all hours of the night just so we could drive around in his new CRX, one that he wrecked after having for just eight days. Now he has kids and runs a business that benefits our community.
I see former Buffalo and Manteca Police Officer Mike Kelly around town. Not only does he serve but has always been instrumental in helping with the Manteca Explorers, teaching future MPD the ropes. My generation is everywhere. Taking their kids to baseball practice. Organizing fundraisers to help those in need. Educators at our schools. City workers.
Men and women that are old enough to remember when Manteca was a small town but don't allow the romanticism of those days to stifle our need to grow and prosper. People that enjoy thinking back to riding their dirt bikes in the fields behind Shasta School in the 70s, but realize the houses that now occupy that spot are much more important. It must be a scary thought for those in their 70s and above – those of the Greatest Generation – to realize the kid that once broke a window playing baseball behind their house is now the guy Don's Mobile Glass sends out today to repair the same problem.
But here we are.
So to the generations above mine, we'd like to invite you to kick up your feet. We'll take it from here. We appreciate the lessons you've taught and the stories you've told. We will be sure to pass along that in your day “We'd head over to Ed's Patio to hang out and cruise the strip; maybe end up at The Scoop for some ice cream. You know we didn't even have a Taco Bell back then.” And if so inclined, we'd ask that you allow us to stop by the porch for advice when we need it in the future because getting the upcoming generation to lift their heads up from a YouTube video isn't going to be easy. In fact, we'll stop by the porch quite often when we need advice – as long as you quit bitching about the music we like. “That guy looks like a girl. Screaming ain't singin'!”
And to the generation below us, cut it with the conspiracy theories and quit being wussies. Nobody has time for that. Just take notes, man your cubicles and have a little patience. It will be your time soon enough.
Booners needs to know...
Let's get interactive folks. In an attempt to inspire a little water cooler talk, we will be starting our “Question of the week” series. A faithful Manteca to a T reader, Wanda K. Booners, sends in at least 10 questions a week for me. Some I'm capable of answering. Some not, but most don't deserve one. So I'm throwing them out to you, the reader. Send your answer to my email (Cateicheira@hotmail.com or www.facebook.com/Manteca-to-a-T). The winning response will make next week's Booners question segment and win a Manteca to a T T-shirt (as soon as I talk Dennis Wyatt into buying me T-shirts, of course). This week's “Booners Needs to Know”: “What is the quickest way to get from Home Depot to East Union High School?”
“It's not Where ya do, It's What ya do”