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Saturday, April 3, 2010

The Ballad of Sutter and Prime

Sutter Health CEO Pat Fry and Prime Healthcare Owner Dr. Prem Reddy

By MILO MINDERBINDER

This is a tale of two pizza parlors. One was located downtown, the other uptown, and both were own by Mr. Sutter. He took ownership of the establishments from a certain Mr. Eden and promised the old man to run it for the next 20 years because that was Mr. Eden's wish. Except, there was a little problem. The law of the land was such that when a customer walked into any pizza parlor and claimed to be hungry and without any means to pay for the pizza, the customer had the right to be fed--for free.

Well, as luck would have it, the uptown store was doing really well. Uptown customers were mostly well-off, and almost all of them paid for their oven-baked juicy slices. Not so in the downtown store. A good half of the customes there were poor, and Mr. Sutter grumbled a lot watching them gorge on his good pizza for nothing. Since Mr. Sutter considered himself a savvy businessman he decided in no less than two years time to put kibosh to having this good-for-nothing lumpenproletariat sucking up his profits.

Complications ensued. The people rose up at the first whiff Mr. Sutter was about to put an end to the free-for-all arrangement. Mr. Eden so gracefully kept them up for many, many, many years and were not going to take it sitting down. They soon stirred up all kinds of doo-doo about Mr. Sutter and his not-so-charitable ways, drawing attention of the local and state government. And if that wasn't enough, one sunny day Mr. Prime, from out of town, heard the news and showed up at Mr. Eden's door.

"I'll buy the store from you," he said. "I don't mind all those non-paying customers."

Mr. Sutter would have none of it. "So long as I live," he stated ominously to his wife, "there will be no competing pizza parlor in this town!" He then turned to his spouse and said, "You hear me, wife? Not a single one! And that's final. I'll just close that stupid downtown store and that's it."

Mrs. Sutter begged to disagree: "Mr. Sutter, listen, sell it to Mr. Prime. Look, you can't really close that store. It's too much hassle. But most importantly, if you do close it all those hungry non-payers will simply drive eight miles uptown and crowd our beautiful uptown store anyway. No difference. Get it?" She was actually quite upset with her obstinate husband.

"They will?" quite perplexed Mr. Sutter asked. "No, duh," replied Mrs. Sutter, "Let Mr. Prime lose his shirt in that downtown dump," Mrs. Sutter continued with her thought. "You know, Mrs. Sutter, that's actually not such a bad idea. I mean, I thought of donating that stupid storefront to the city so they could open an ice cream parlor there, but then..."

"You still end up with all the hungry non-payers going uptown to eat our good juicy oven-baked pizza."
"For free," added Mr. Sutter. There seemed to be a quiver of brilliant white light shining in the far corner of that dark brain of his. "Exactly."

Well, folks this story has no ending yet. Mr. Sutter is still in the process of laboriously sorting through his existential dilemma because he actually really hates Mr. Prime. Too many what-ifs, you know. What if his math is wrong and Mr. Prime will cut into his business with better pizza. Imagine that! Or something else! Like, I don't know what? Something! That's where we leave him. Sitting on the fence, counting his money and his days before something shakes loose. He has no idea what. Something.

2 comments :

Maybe you did not mean this, but it is a true analogy for the two areas as well as their hospitals - Castro Valley = Uptown
San Leandro = Dump.

How about the other Pizza pallor , Kaiser pizza on the other side of 880. Won't that hurt Sutter and Prime's business . Both Sutter and Prime are more cutthroat than Kaiser. Seems like they should be part of the story as well.
Craig

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