“Are you in the audience this evening?” Mayor Matt Rahn scanned the room for one particular Boy Scout, which should not have been difficult given the scarcity of badges and uniforms in the crowd.
“We wanted to congratulate you on receiving the rank of Eagle Scout, which is the highest achievement in scouting. Let’s hear about your project!”
The scout stood uneasily behind the microphone and softly described his community service. “For my project, I decided to go with Rancho Damacitas [Children & Family Services]. I decided to go with a garden box and benches. But then they decided they didn’t want that anymore. They wanted to build a shed. So I agreed to make a shed for them.”
“God, you started off with a bench and made it all the way to shed,” the mayor exclaimed. “It’s a good thing they didn’t have an annex wing put on!” A group of teenagers grinned and snickered in the second row–although it was less a reaction to the mayor’s joke than to something they were doodling in their notebooks.
Fortunately, they picked the right night to observe a council meeting, as the Temecula Valley Museum’s director stood to introduce visiting dignitaries from Daisen, Temecula’s sister city in Japan.
“They will be enjoying many of the amenities, including the duck pond, the Pechanga Great Oak Tree, and also San Diego,” she said. “They will also be our special guests in Santa’s Electric Light Parade.
“Please forgive me if I mispronounce their names.” She proceeded strenuously to sound out each name, but none of them appeared to mind as they strode to the front of the room for a group picture.
There was minor confusion as the mayor attempted to pass out certificates, but had no idea who was who. Thinking quickly, he flashed the papers to one of the visitors, who pointed him towards the correct recipient.
“Have you taken them to In-N-Out Burger?” Mayor Pro Tem Michael Naggar grilled the museum manager. “Not yet? And the Cheesecake Factory?”
“Where do we get those jackets like they have on?” quizzed Council Member Maryann Edwards, pointing to the branded jacket of one of the visitors.
“That’s a good question,” Mayor Rahn echoed. “Where did you get the Temecula jacket?”
“You can get those in the visitor’s center around the corner,” replied the city manager, to the pleasant surprise of the whole council.
The last large order of business–other than the teens’ excited whispering about something on one of their phones–was the dry but important matter of extending a construction permit for the Temecula Valley Hospital.
“I can personally vouch that because of the hospital–no exaggeration–it has saved the life of my father-in-law, it saved the life of my wife,” Mayor Pro Tem Naggar testified. “There is an impact of the helicopter flying over–it flies about 300 feet over my house. At first, it’s annoying until you think about who’s in that helicopter. Then you find out a little annoyance is meaningless based on what’s going on up there.”
“None of us could have dreamt that it would be this good,” echoed Council Member Edwards. “My husband has been a ‘customer’ on several occasions. How we ever got along without you, we will never know.”
With praise like that, I hope the Japanese delegation gets to visit the hospital–a far, far healthier alternative to the Cheesecake Factory.