Pittsburgh is the best! There’s no doubt about it.
Okay, maybe we have a few doubts. But hey, everything in life has its downsides, and our city is no exception. From the weird to the “what the $%*&,” here are 11 very real struggles that every Pittsburgher faces on a daily basis. If you’re lucky (or unlucky, depending on how you look at it), you might encounter them all in one day.
Zero degrees of separation
People call Pittsburgh a small city and a big town, and they’re right. Despite the diversity of the neighborhoods spiraling out from downtown, you’re bound to run into people you know – all the time. It’s nearly impossible to fly under the radar if you’ve lived here for awhile. Your Uber driver inevitably knows your aunt in Greenfield, who knows your coworker in Polish Hill, who went to high school with your ex in Baldwin. If you’re an extrovert, this is great, but otherwise, you’ll be doing a lot of staring fixedly at the ground with your headphones blaring to avoid those ‘do I know you?’ stares.
The endless wait for brunch
You’ve just awakened to the most beautiful Sunday morning Pittsburgh has ever known. Better still, you sleep in a little, and now the whole day is before you. You decide on a leisurely brunch. What’s it going to be? Fact is, it doesn’t really matter. Choose Pamela’s, or Deluca’s, or Square Cafe, or pretty much any local brunch-serving establishment. You will spend the next 15 years of your life waiting for a table. On the bright side, you’ll see at least a few familiar faces in the crowd (see above!). Pro tip: get your coffee before you head to the restaurant.
Strict liquor laws
Somehow, out of all 50 states in our great nation, Pennsylvania ended up with the strictest liquor laws. Do you want a bottle of wine after 8 p.m.? Are you running late to a party for which you’re expected to bring a bottle of booze? Well, that’s just too bad. And even if you manage to make it to the state store on time, you’re not getting any deals. Every liquor store in the state sells bottles at exactly the same price. At least now you can buy a six-pack at Giant Eagle.
Hills on hills on hills
If you have to walk more than two blocks in Pittsburgh, chances are you are going to encounter a hill. And another. And another. You will never escape the constant climbing and descending. You laugh when Google Maps thinks a walking route will take seven minutes (try 17 minutes, Google Maps). And then, of course, there are the mysterious city steps – very steep sets of stairs that are, for some reason, listed as roads on many maps. The terrain is great for your hamstrings, but terrible for your overall happiness.
Navigating the mysterious Port Authority system
Let’s say you live in East Liberty, and you’d like to bowl a few rounds at Arsenal in Lawrenceville. However, you don’t have access to a car. No worries; you can just take the bus, right? It’s only a twenty-minute walk in any direction to take a direct bus. If you’re in a particularly transit-friendly mood, you can even take two buses. Don’t forget to bring exact change, because you’ll have to feed whatever bills you have into the gaping maw of the fare machine. If you’d like to avoid lots of huffing and muttering while people wait for you to insert your cash, get yourself a ConnectCard. If you load it up with money online, you’ll only have to wait 36 hours to have access to it. Everybody wins.
The infamous Pittsburgh Left
This risky and obnoxious driving maneuver is so well-known that it has its own entry on Wikipedia. For those of you who haven’t experienced this, a Pittsburgh Left consists of a left-turner at an intersection lead-footing it before the cars going straight have a chance to move. It can be comical to watch from a safe distance, but pedestrians are advised to wait at least an extra ten seconds before crossing a supposedly safe street. Of course, the Pittsburgh Left is illegal, but that doesn’t deter about 90 percent of Pittsburghers.
As you may have noticed, our fair city’s weather is unpredictable at best. Each winter, we hold our collective breath and hope that another Snowmageddon isn’t approaching. But, massive storms aside, the worst thing about the weather is the constant change. It might be 12 degrees on Monday and 72 degrees on Tuesday – a surefire way to catch a cold. Seasons seem to have very lax guidelines. Your wardrobe is always going to be stuffed, because every time you pack your sweaters away, boom, surprise snowstorm in May.
Crosswalks are a mere suggestion
It’s always important to keep your eyes on the road, but driving through residential areas in Pittsburgh requires hyper-vigilance. Despite an abundance of stoplights and crosswalks, our fellow city-dwellers choose to instead saunter out into the middle of the road, often without looking. This seems to be the pedestrian version of the Pittsburgh Left. You can lay on the horn and shout as much as you want, but it won’t do you any good. Paces remain leisurely, and the most you’ll get in response is a middle finger. If you want to drive in Pittsburgh, make sure your brakes are very finely tuned. On the flipside, pedestrians DO NOT have the right of way in Pittsburgh. Drivers are unlikely to slow down at a crosswalk. No wonder people randomly cross the street.
The parking chair
If you attempt to save a parking space for yourself in the City of Pittsburgh, you could be fined up to $300. Obviously, this is not ideal. However, because of the cramped and narrow streets, many people just don’t care. This has led to a famous tradition: the use of the lawn chair as a reservation device. The streets will be lined with plastic or folding chairs during winter, when parking is particularly hard to come by, and you should never dare to move someone’s chair. You don’t want to know what happens if you do.
The intensity of sports fans
Every city has its beloved teams and athletes, and excitedly watching a game with friends, snacks, and beer is a staple of Pittsburgh life. But Pittsburgh takes sports fanaticism to the next level. Black and yellow are practically a required uniform, and even on non-game days, you’ll often find yourself in a sea of jerseys and fan t-shirts. And if the Steelers make it to the Superbowl, watch out. Whether the team wins or loses, the reaction will be the same: a massive riot including flipped cars, trashcan fires, and an excessive amount of drunken shouting late into the night. If someone asks you if you like the Steelers, Pirates, or Penguins, do yourself a favor and just say “yes.”
The party’s over at 2 a.m.
After last call at the bar, it’s only natural to want to scarf down some food before collapsing into your bed for the next several hours. But in Pittsburgh, this can prove difficult. Almost everything closes at 2 a.m., and while there are now at least a few later-night options, it’s a veritable ghost town when it comes to the wee hours of the morning. In fact, you’re better off waiting a few hours until 5 a.m. when the breakfast and coffee shops start to open – if you can stay awake for that long.