Meeting nice people during unlikely times
by Ron Swift | Patterson Irrigator
Sep 26, 2013 | 862 views | 0 0 comments | 202 202 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Ron Swift
Ron Swift
You meet the nicest people in an emergency. Just think of an emergency you might have had and I’m sure you’ll agree.

Just the other day HM (Housemate) and I were having lunch at a Modesto restaurant when I suddenly became ill. The waitress was very nice, and so was the restaurant manager and the diners seated around us. Add to that the paramedics (are they all that young?) who whisked me across town in short order. (All those drivers who pulled over as we sped past also were nice, or were they just avoiding a ticket?)

The ER people were both businesslike and extremely pleasant. They were also very busy. Either Stanislaus County residents aren’t very healthy, or many people besides me were having a bad day.

Feeling much better, I wanted to go home. But the pleasant and businesslike ER physician had other ideas. I was informed that an overnight stay was the plan of the day.

Doc didn’t buy my excuse that some Boy Scouts were going camping (true), that I was their leader (also true), and that we were scheduled to leave Patterson at 4:30 that very afternoon.

No, he explained in a very pleasant bed-side manner, the hospital had some very expensive equipment that many competent staffers wanted to try out on me the next day. I was stuck.

I’ll have to inject here that my stay in the ER lasted nine hours, the last eight of which I was stretched out fully-clothed as the nurses whisked by doing their thing. After six hours, I insisted to getting up for a few minutes or risk having my iced tea soil their bedding.

An upstairs room apparently didn’t become available until 11 p.m., after which I was made ready for bed, given some pills, gave them some blood, and listened to explanations about the coming day – all by extremely pleasant nurses. This took until shortly after 3 a.m.

After that, I had plenty of time to think about the cancelled Boy Scout campout. In particular, I was troubled by the Scout who had missed the opportunity to pass his cooking requirements. He had planned the menus, gone to the store to purchase the food, and was prepared to be our cook. Obviously he would be disappointed.

The next day, every medical procedure and every machine to be used in testing was explained in great detail by staff members with smiling faces. And why not? They weren’t about to be tested.

Coming out after spending 22 minutes under a nuclear device that took photos of my innards from just about every angle, I asked what it cost. The reply — $500,000. I figured they’d put a portion of that on my bill; hopefully not all of it.

They had two of these big machines, but the technician told me he had bumped into the other one, causing it to need repairs. I figured I might be billed for that as well.

The young doctor who signed my release papers also was extremely pleasant and explained the results of my tests in great detail. I don’t remember much of what she said, except that showed I have everything in its designed place and in pretty good working order. The exact cause of my problem was to be determined another day, she noted.

But what I do remember is that she grew up in Livingston where she played basketball, and thus, had visited Patterson on numerous occasions. We talked a little sports and I reciprocated by being very nice.

After all, it was her signature that was getting me out of there.


You may recall that I have been keeping track of money requests I receive in the mail from non-profit philanthropic organizations.

I started the count Jan. 1 of this year, and as of last weekend, 131 (not a misprint!) financial solicitations from 48 different groups had been received. They range from health research non-profits to conservation, education and athletic organizations.

We’re not even through September and two groups are tied for the lead in mail pieces. (This is not counting the phone calls I get from some of these same non-profits.) They are the American Cancer Society and the U.S. Olympic Committee, each having sent me 13 pieces of mail in a little under nine months. The only one pleased with this figure is the U.S. Postal Service.

But I’m giving the cancer people, whose cause is noble, the nod in this race. That’s because that while the Cancer Society has sent me 13 mailings, the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center has added another eight to my list, the National Foundation for Cancer Research sent four more, and the United Breast Cancer Association one.

So I’m giving cancer a total score of 26.

And you may wonder if I sent contributions to the American Cancer Society and the U.S. Olympic Committee. Sure did – early in the year. Heck, someone has to pay for all those mailings!

By the way, the Olympic people wanted to send me a jacket because of my contribution. I told them to give the jacket to an American athlete. The Winter Games are coming up in Russian, and it gets downright cold over there


Longtime Patterson residents surely recall that over 30 years ago – early July of 1980 to be exact – a live-in fox was spotted and photographed in our community.

Foxy Loxy, as he was later named by Mimi Draper, lived in Patterson’s north end. This was just before the days when new subdivisions expanded our boundaries in all four directions.

Foxy Loxy became a novelty. In the next three or four years, he was spotted and even photographed by many – swimming in a backyard pool, playing with cats on school property, traveling from site-to-site through the trees, etc.

And over the years, later generations of genus Vulpes (yes, I had to look it up) took up residency within Patterson’s boundaries, where many of us have long thought living conditions to be excellent. Apparently foxes do also.

Now Roseann Christopherson up on Northmead Way says a fox is residing in her neighborhood. I’m truly glad to hear about it, and may he live a long and happy life.

Roseann, too.


After watching the America’s Cup races on the telly the last couple of weeks, I’ve grown to realize I know nothing about yachting.

For one thing, the sailors use odd terms. I say yachts zig and zag, while they use more sophisticated terminology. And why measure everything in meters and kilometers? The racing is on the San Francisco Bay. Talk American!

And are the 49ers headed for the same fate as this season’s beloved Giants? Key hits that fell in, sparkling defensive plays at just the right time, and pin-point pitches in critical moments didn’t repeat themselves this season for the Giants.

In the event you might have been wondering, Patterson High has itself a quality football program to be reckoned with this fall. Both teams are 4-0 and improving.


Our e-mail of the week says it all:

“Mothers of teens now know why some animals eat their young.”

Ron Swift is editor/publisher emeritus of the Patterson Irrigator. He can be reached at

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