I’ve been tickled by the tongue-in-cheek lists of inside jokes that spawned a Facebook group and this really fairly annoying YouTube video:
But last week when a colleague of mine who has family back in the ‘Burgh gave me a business card with all his relations’ names and phone numbers just in case we needed extra moving help or wanted to be invited to big Italian dinners, I got to thinking about some of the other ways to know you’re a Pittsburgher:
- You really, truly care about your neighbors just because they’re your neighbors. They’re your people.
- You approach most of life’s problems with a singular practicality. Life is complicated enough without introducing excess confusion. If the situation is x, and the way to make it right is y, no sense worrying about z.
- You have the distinct sense that you were actually right when you were a teenager – there really isn’t anyone who understands you. You discover this when you leave Western PA and have to explain 8 times a day that Pittsburgh is clean now, and you realize that while you were learning about the rest of the country, no one was bothering to learn anything about you.
- You believe that hard work is a virtue. If you chance to have a job outside of Pittsburgh, you are constantly praised for your strong work ethic just for doing what comes naturally, and may seem like the bare minimum considering how hard your parents worked.
- You feel at once protective and frustrated with your city, as if it were your kid sister. You’re infuriated when anyone picks on her and will defend her on any turf, but you are constantly annoyed by her many mistakes.
- You have a complex relationship with Nature. You either hunt or have family who does. You are proud of your city’s many green buildings and not just because of the accolades they receive from around the country – because they usually don’t (see third bullet, above). You recognize that there are vast ecological downsides to mining and refining and smelting and coking, but you also know that food was on the table of many a neighborhood family because of those industries. You are connected with the natural world in a genuine give-and-take way that many people cannot fathom.
- You want your sports teams to stand for something. It’s not enough that they win – they must represent you and your standards. Your sports heroes are expected to be just that.
- Deep down, you sort of suspect that your supposed hatred of Cleveland is at least partially pity. You recognize that the misfortunes that have befallen our neighbor by the lake could just have easily been thrust upon us, if not for the combination of fate, geography, and better politicians. Perhaps you have a little survivor’s guilt. Moreover, you’re certain that most of their hatred is just envy.
- Disaster happens. You may not have been through anything so tragic and dramatic as Hurricane Katrina, but you or someone you know has been flooded out of their home and started over.
- You know that the saying really is true – you can’t appreciate the sunshine if you’ve never had the rain.
Here’s to the good, strong, charitable, hard-working stuff that makes us, us.