IMHO Installment #54: The Pittsburgh Left Sucks

05 Jun 2007

Mark Twain wrote that "familiarity breeds contempt -- and children." Most people use that phrase shortened, leaving off the "and children" part. (It's like the saying "happy as a clam," from which people usually unknowingly omit the remaining words, "at high tide.") In Twain's case, though, the first three words are, alone, clever enough. And, I find this phenomenon playing out all over the place. Notably and ironically, though, it's prevalent in many things that, upon first introduction, seem downright exciting.

Take the Hope Diamond, for one strong example ... If you've ever lived in Washington, D.C., you've no doubt experienced most of the city's wonders at one time or another. When we lived there (from '91 to '96), our home became a popular destination for family members in need of a get-away. Each visit, we'd explore another historical and/or cultural attraction -- Mt. Vernon, the Capitol, the White House, the National Mall, the Smithsonian museums, the Arboretum, the numerous memorials, the Potomac, Georgetown, Adams Morgan, etc. The first time you see all that stuff, you're filled with a sense of wonder.

The tenth time you see all that stuff, it starts to wear on you. Not all of it, of course. But some things in life, you only need to see once (or, okay, maybe twice). The Hope Diamond didn't live up to all of the hype I'd built up from my youth. I suppose I'd estimated, as a young man, that the damn thing must be about the size of a bowling ball. Well, it's not. It may well be valued at $200+ million, but it's really quite small, no bigger than a silver dollar, if that. It devolved from a simple disappointment to an outright annoyance over time ("You really wanna go look at the Hope Diamond? Well, sure, okay ... ").

And so it is with the "Pittsburgh Left." Until moving here, I rarely ran into this phenom. Let me explain, per my wicked-ass 3-D illustration, above, built in mere minutes using Google's free 3D rendering app, Sketchup.

Okay, you're the dude in the red and black sports car at the bottom right. You're waiting at the light to go straight. The first guy across from you in the maroon pickup truck has his signal on. He wants to turn left and go up that street past the cop. Got it?

So, when the light turns, what is supposed to happen is: You go straight and that guy waits until it's clear and then turns left. What happens in Pittsburgh, almost 99% of the time, is that you courteously waive the guy on, wait for him to make his left turn, and then proceed straight.

Now, a lot of folks really get behind this whole courtesy / love thy neighbor crap. I know I did upon first moving here. I thought, Wow, Pittsburgh is fucking great !

But, let me tell you something: It's nice when people voluntarily extend that courtesy, but it's a whole different thing when that courtesy becomes expected by the recipient. And that, my compadres, is what pisses me off. It's now reached the point at which, if you don't extend that "Pittsburgh Left" courtesy, you stand about a 50/50 chance at getting flipped off!

I realize that most of you out there get all fired up about the war and politics and, you know, the "big picture"; but I'm here to tell you that no one's minding the small picture anymore. Beauty, it is said, lies in the details, right? Well, I'm here to patrol those MF-ing details, and it all starts right here in "da 'burgh."

I'm done with courtesy, and I think others are becoming that way as well. Even my wife, who seemed rather resistant to my initial annoyance with this, is starting to voice her objection more frequently at these left-turners who gun it and wave as soon as the light changes, as though you'd even offered them the chance to go in the first place.

Join the dark side, my friends. It's much more enjoyable once you get used to it!

Original Comments

Below, are the original comments on this post. Additional comments may be made via Facebook, below.

On June 14, 2007, Heather wrote:

I hear ya on this one!

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