I love Pittsburgh. And that kid.

“Valerie Abati, you suck.”

That’s what went through my mind as I sat with a white-knuckled grip on my steering wheel while cruising slowly through a blizzard that swept through the Waterfront this morning.

About an hour earlier I was at home deciding what to wear when I peeked out of my bedroom window. Clean sidewalks, clean streets, clean car with just a touch of frost. High-heeled boots it is!

I was thoroughly enjoying flicking around the radio dial as I cruised past Kennywood. I caught the ‘DVE crew cracking up about radishes (Seriously. I thought Val Porter was going to have a coronary). I caught some 80s/90s tunes on 92.9 and 99.7. I caught some Garth Brooks (More Than a Memory). I caught some Bob. And I caught Valerie Abati saying “a chance of snow showers today” JUST AS THE BLIZZARD HIT. Like, instant accumulation.

“Valerie Abati, you suck,” I said out loud.

In 30 seconds the roads were covered with snow and visibility was GIANT SNOWFLAKES.

I thought about Mexico.

I was at the top of the road after the Homestead Grays Bridge when I really looked around. Beautiful. White snow everywhere and snowflake clumps so big they were leaving splotches as big as half dollars on my windshield. The trees were covered, the roofs were white, the grass was a blanket, and everything was just very quiet … even in the chaos of traffic.

It was awesome. Not awesome as in “totally, dude!” Awesome as in awe-inspiring. I relaxed my grip on the wheel and said, “I love Pittsburgh.”

When I hit the Parkway and saw it was completely clear of any snow, I said, “I love Pittsburgh.” When some loser yinzer in an old Pontiac didn’t obey the alternating pattern of merging, I thought, “I still love Pittsburgh, you jagoff.”

I got to town and the sidewalks below the Hill all the way down to Gateway Center were already clear of snow, meaning I wouldn’t need to scoot to work on my ass and I said, “I love Pittsburgh.”

I walked to my office bundled up against the cold, but at the same time enjoying the feel of it against my face and I thought, “I love Pittsburgh.”

Then this afternoon I saw a kid walking down the sidewalk … maybe 19 or so … bundled up against the wind. Head to toe black. Black hat. Black scarf over his chin. Black puffy coat. Black jeans and black boots. All you can see are his nose and his eyes.

If I’m working at a bank and this kid walks in with his hands in his pockets, I’d probably dive for the alarm button without so much of a “Can I help you, sir?”

And the kid handed the one-legged, one-armed homeless man a brown paper bag that clearly contained a sandwich. But he didn’t just hand it to him by sticking out one hand like, “Eh. I don’t want this, I guess. Here ya go. Whatever. Bye.”

He held it out with both hands, pulled his scarf down, spoke a few words to the homeless man, patted him on the shoulder and walked away. He was REALLY giving the sandwich to him and it meant something. The homeless man cradled the bag in his arm. Looked at the bag. Looked at the kid who was walking away with his hands in his pockets now. Back at the bag. The kid. The bag. And the homeless man smiled and took a slow deep breath.

And I thought, “I love Pittsburgh and I love that kid.”

It is going to come back to him ten-fold. Here’s hoping it comes back to him in cash and not so much in the form of ten sandwiches.


  1. Brother Anthony
    February 19, 2008 4:04 pm

    Here’s hoping it comes back to him in kindness and not so much cash.

  2. Ms. Caroline
    February 19, 2008 4:21 pm

    I like that story. Thank you for sharing it.

  3. In Sewickley
    February 19, 2008 4:26 pm

    I also love Pittsburgh.

  4. Charlie
    February 19, 2008 4:31 pm

    I miss Pittsburgh…

    the most excitement I get is a local refinery blowing up (I live in Texas now)

  5. Chris
    February 19, 2008 4:33 pm

    Now, I’m impressed with that 19 year old. As someone in the generation as he is, I have noticed that we are an egocentric generation. I’m glad to hear that there are good people out there, that are young, and ready to take on the world!

  6. Frank
    February 19, 2008 4:38 pm

    Practice random kindness through senseless acts of sandwiches. :)

  7. back in the burgh
    February 19, 2008 4:40 pm

    Thanks for sharing that … it made my day to know there are still kind souls out there looking out for people. And I love Pittsburgh, too!

  8. Beth
    February 19, 2008 4:43 pm

    I love Pittsburgh too. I love that there are others who love it as much as I do!

  9. Bulldog
    February 19, 2008 4:49 pm

    I love Pittsburgh, I love that kid, and today I really LOVE pittgirl for sharing that ray of sunshine!!!

  10. Allison
    February 19, 2008 4:54 pm

    Thanks for sharing that story. It really made me think about how much I love Pittsburgh and how much I miss it.

    That kid is amazing. I’m happy to see there are still people like that out there in the world.

  11. MountaineerHoo
    February 19, 2008 5:05 pm

    There is hope :) How great!

  12. BBM
    February 19, 2008 5:21 pm

    I love Pittsburgh and PittGirl for loving Pittsburgh.

  13. CS Keys
    February 19, 2008 5:41 pm


  14. NoSide15212
    February 19, 2008 6:45 pm

    Speaking of Valerie …I watched the newscast this morning and you could literally cut the sexual tension between Valerie and Jim Lokay with a knife. No kidding. I’ll bet 20 buck that by week’s end, the two of them just rush each other on camera and start ripping off clothes.

  15. Steeler_tom
    February 19, 2008 7:48 pm

    Dang! That was truely awe inspiring!
    Thanks for sharing that story.
    I love the Burgh
    I miss the Burgh
    I love you PittGirl for making me smile even when a laugh isn’t forthcoming…
    I now know why I come here… (and it isn’t always to drink)
    I hope it comes back tenfold in cash and happiness to that guy and to you too PittGirl just for sharing it with us minions.

  16. Still A Fan
    February 19, 2008 7:58 pm

    man, i feel like an idiot. i read that heartfelt story and all i can think of is…PittGirl in high-heeled boots.

  17. Katie
    February 19, 2008 10:18 pm

    It’s guys like that, that remind me how awesome Pittsburghers are. I love this city!

  18. bucdaddy
    February 19, 2008 11:03 pm

    That’ll be me tomorrow a.m., standing along the road next to Kennywood, with the “Will work for PittGirl” sign.

  19. Dan (Not Onarato)
    February 20, 2008 7:54 am

    Great post PG…after all the negativity we see on the news its nice to see.

  20. violet
    February 20, 2008 9:21 am

    Thanks PG for making me laugh AND cry! I love Pittsburgh too, like so much it’s ridiculous…and sometimes I hate the weather people.

  21. Leslie
    February 20, 2008 9:27 am

    Wow. Thanks for sharing. Beautiful portrait you painted there with words, girl…

  22. NotSoNice
    February 20, 2008 9:33 am

    Thank you PG for pointing out that Valerie Abati sucks! I turn the channel when I see her coming on. I don’t care who else I have to look at and listen to – just not her! Her voice is so freaking whiny and she mumbles so much, why doesn’t someone at the Big K tell her. Also, when she sits at the desk with Keith and Sonni – she bangs her hands on the desk countless times and God is that annoying. Plus, she is nothing to look at – especially in her Good Humor white suit she had on yesterday. I feel better now that I got that out.

  23. Sofa King
    February 20, 2008 9:35 am

    A few weeks ago, one of my co-workers went up to the Pittsburgh area for a friend’s birthday. When she came back, I asked her how her weekend went. She said, “You know, after living here (in DC) so long, I’ve forgotten how really generous people can be to their neighbors. Going back there really reminded me.”

    It’s no wonder I’m trying to find a job and move back there.

  24. Pensgirl
    February 20, 2008 11:47 am

    It’s no wonder I’m trying to find a job and move back there.

    Ditto, Sofa.

  25. megan
    February 20, 2008 12:15 pm

    I moved back (in 2001) after 18yrs away. Since then, all other siblings and their families have moved back (40+ back in the Burgh!). Its the best living back here and I wish the same successful return for all who want it :D

  26. NotSoNice
    February 20, 2008 1:20 pm

    Geez I must be seeing something so different than a lot of you – I truly can’t wait to move FROM here. This area is beautiful and there are a lot of great people here but the taxes are killing us. I have lived in other areas and the cost of living is so much better. How many other taxes can they put on us here?

  27. amber
    February 20, 2008 1:32 pm

    maybe he would prefer 10 sandwiches.

  28. REARless
    February 20, 2008 2:39 pm

    NotSoNice, have fun in Alabama, South Carolina, Arkansas etc. with the low taxes and the uneducated masses.

  29. btezra
    February 20, 2008 3:30 pm

    I’d go w/ ten sammiches

    xlnt post, Pittsburgh rocks.

  30. Jonesin' for Pittgirl
    February 20, 2008 3:40 pm

    If you don’t like the taxes you can always quit getting wasted!

  31. jason
    February 20, 2008 4:02 pm

    wow- the tension brought on by pittgirl’s description of the ninja-like winter pedestrian was riveting. i couldnt imagine what that tale was about- but it sounded like it was headed to an unhappy ending.
    but alas– what a great story to read.
    and people say pittsgirl is shallow and worried only about her shoes. well, no one actually says that…just kidding.

    i love pgh as well, but dont miss it enough to move back.

  32. Sofa King
    February 20, 2008 4:12 pm

    NotSoNice, who cares about the taxes? Pittsburgh’s cost of living is a fraction of what it is other places…and the housing costs are 30% below national average. For comparison- my girlfriend bought a 1BR condo in an old building in Alexandria, VA, last year for a fair market rate…$200,000…WITHOUT an in-unit laundry. After putting several thousand more into it, it is now worth about $40,000 less than she initially paid. Rent on 2BR apartments in my building is about $1900/mo. for 1000 sq. ft.

    Taxes a bitch? We have to pay property tax on our car every year down here. Every fall I shell out about $550 for the luxury of having a car in the great Commonwealth of VA. The schools are s**t, and you don’t stand a chance of raising your family in an actual single-family home unless you are a millionaire.

    Trust me, I’d take Pittsburgh any day…

  33. Michael
    February 20, 2008 4:26 pm

    Sofa King–I gots to defend my hood

    Alexandria schools are just . . .ummmm . . .. “underperforming” not s**t. D.C. schools are S**t. The car tax however is an unconscionable crime against humanity. $35 for a DECAL that says “hey I paid my tax” that they send to you whether you pay or not!!!!!

  34. NotSoNice
    February 20, 2008 5:46 pm

    REARless – if you don’t there are “uneducated masses” in this area, you must not get out and about. Ever hear any of the English spoken around here? “Yinz” to me is the epitome (do you know what that word means?) of an uneducated person. The Pittsburgh Government schools have some of the lowest test scores going. And your tax dollars are going towards those high salaries and low test scores.

    I have a brother and sister in the great state of Indiana who have much bigger homes than I. My home could fit into their living and great rooms. However, they pay almost half of what I pay in their total property taxes. And, they have no drink tax, no wage tax, no what used to referred to as “occupation” tax in their areas. Oh, they do pay a personal property tax on their vehicles which is more than what we pay to register our cars here in PA but there is such a considerable difference in the property taxes from their area to here – no wonder they left here and never came back. They always ask when I am moving and getting away from the high cost of living. And, just so you know, the area in Lafayette IN where my sister resides with the lower property taxes has one of the best school districts in that state.

    Jonesin – One tax I don’t have to worry about is the Onorato tax because I am not a drinker.

  35. unsatisfied
    February 20, 2008 5:55 pm

    I happened to love living in VA. I lived in richmond, which was not as expensive as northern VA.

    but, I can vouch for that personal property tax — that did suck. I thought that VA was going to phase that out — at least, that’s what they were talking about when I last lived there in ’99….

  36. Pensgirl
    February 20, 2008 6:07 pm

    Wait, Sofa, are you saying that taxes are NOT the only factor in cost-of-living? Perish the thought!

    Let’s see…I live in Baltimore, a city on the Riverlife Task Force’s list of “comparable” cities to Pittsburgh. According to <a href=”http://www.bestplaces.net/col/”this calculator:

    It’s 24.5% cheaper to live in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania than Baltimore, Maryland.

    Let’s look at the others that made the list:

    Boston: 34.1% higher than Pgh

    Charlotte, N.C.: 7.8% higher

    Cincinnati: 1.2% higher

    Cleveland: 3.5% higher

    Denver: 18.6% higher

    Detroit: 3.5% higher

    Indianapolis: 3.8% lower

    Kansas City (MO): 1.2% lower

    Milwaukee: 9.8% higher

    Minneapolis: 22.4% higher

    Philadelphia: 20.2% higher

    Richmond: 12.6% higher

    I’ll throw in one more city in our rust belt:

    Buffalo: no change

    It’s easy, and lazy, to pick on taxes.

  37. tivofreak
    February 20, 2008 9:10 pm

    I also love Pittsburgh. Thanks for that great story. It brought a tiny little tear to my left eye.

  38. Still A. Fan
    February 20, 2008 11:27 pm

    i lived in the burbs while working in center city philadelphia for 5 years – their wage tax at the time for someone living outside the city and working in was like 4.9% back in the early 90’s. i researched pittsburgh’s at the time and i think it was 2%. my company felt so bad for the consultants they were putting in the city that they cut us sep checks to make up the difference in pay. what really heated our balls was then working with city employees who did 10% of the work while consultants did 90%. you could fire 1/2 of every department and nobody would have known the difference. city budgets are bloated with inept workers who loaf with impunity and it’s embarrassing. obviously that’s not a blanket condemnation if you’re a city employee, but if you are – you know the 50% is spot on. the culture is to just survive until tomorrow, not “what can i accomplish today”. taxes will remain high to cover these salaries until they integrate private sector business leaders to come in and streamline staffs and operations. or not. what do i know?

  39. Kelli
    February 21, 2008 8:26 am

    Wow – how did the comments for this post evolve into a discussion of taxes? So not the point.

    However, here is my two cents: So what. Sure, some places might have better (read: lower) taxes than Pittsburgh. But that doesn’t mean they have other things that I want.

    For example: family. My family isn’t going anywhere – the family farm is here, just outside of Pittsburgh. Being able to see my family on a regular basis is more important to me than paying lower taxes.

    And even my job. Hate it as I may, it doesn’t exist in all other towns. But it is here and I do it.

  40. Zsa
    February 21, 2008 10:11 am

    I’d rather live in a porn store on Liberty Avenue than live in that flat, flat, flat wasteland of chain stores called Indiana. Yuck.

  41. Sofa King
    February 21, 2008 12:53 pm

    Well, NSN, if you are one of the few who prefers cowpies and cornfields to culture and city life, then by all means, pack up and head to that bustling metropolis known as Lafayette, IN. Really. Now. Do Pittsburgh a favor.

    Alexandria City Schools are atrocious, that’s why everyone I know who has kids there is trying to jump the border to Fairfax Co. The new TC Williams is beautiful, but it’s still TC Williams. DC schools are beyond atrocious—they are indescribable.

    From what I’ve seen of Richmond, it is a beautiful town. It was rough as hell, but it’s getting better. It also doesn’t have NoVA’s neck-breaking pace of life, wallet-raiding cost of living, and soul-raping egotistical bureaucrats. Plus, you don’t need to speak 6 languages just to order a pizza. VA has some great areas, but NoVA and Hampton Roads aren’t 2 of them.

    What it comes down to is that every where has its pluses and minuses. I’m just tired of living in an area where people are more concerned with the quantity of life than the quality of life. This story just exemplifies what I’ve been missing for my 5 years here.

  42. NotSoNice
    February 21, 2008 8:49 pm

    Hey I’d go in a heartbeat – at least the people are more civilized there.

    What is the big attraction here in Pittsburgh? I bet most would say the sports teams? Is that it? God, if that is what people base where they live on, that is pretty pitiful.

    I think Pittsburgh is a beautiful area and there are some nice people here. Hey, if you don’t care about how much you pay in fees and taxes, if you can afford it, more power to you.

    Don’t worry Zsa – I don’t think Indiana would want you anyway. So you can stay here with the other yinzers and yunzers.

  43. IMissPgh
    February 22, 2008 2:24 am

    I miss Pittsburgh with my heart and soul. I moved away two years ago, and I can’t wait to get back. There really is no place on Earth like it.

    People where I live now pass by the homeless without a second thought. I hope that 19 year old is enriched and blessed with the same kindness and goodwill he shows others.

    Thanks, PittGirl.

  44. Clint
    February 22, 2008 8:30 am


    I read your blog everyday. I am transplanted out of the city, and reading this feels like home for me, i look forward to it….

    that being said, i forwarded the post about the boy, sandwich and homeless man to my friends and family. we all enjoyed it very much.

    just wanted to say thanks, and i will kick a pigeon today.

  45. Sofa King
    February 22, 2008 4:11 pm

    NSN, if you can’t hack it in Pittsburgh and think the people aren’t civilized enough for you, then there’s no way in hell you’d be able to hack it in any other city on either coast…I’d know, I travel to all of them constantly on business.

    Btw, way to be wayyy off topic by alluding to the sports teams, since not one person mentioned it as one of the city’s main attractions.

    What’s the big negative of living in Pittsburgh? I bet most would say the high taxes. God, if that’s what people base where they live on, that is pretty pitiful.

  46. NotANativeYinzer
    February 24, 2008 1:55 am

    I must chime in on this – I am a transplant here. I am from a southern coastal town. I loved it there and am anxious to return. I am not a fan of the excessive taxes one pays here. We even pay to have our garbage removed where I live here. That is unusual to me because we don’t have that in my hometown.

    I think the city (well, outside the city) is pretty. Some people are friendly. Some of the suburban neighborhoods are very nice. I do believe the education could be better here – but if you live in a few select high price neighborhoods the education is exceptional.

    I am not a big sports fan so I could care less about the Steelers or Pirates or Penguins. I know that is a big deal here and that is fine for some.

    What I can’t understand is how anyone can think that downtown (right now) is a place to come and shop. Shop where? Macy’s is fine, but where else? Maybe once downtown has more good stores and restaurants it will be worth promoting. I understand at one time it was a great place to shop and socialize.

    There are some great places in the country to live. I too have been around the country and lived in other cities. I have enjoyed my time here and can’t really complain but I think anyone who has complaints certainly has the right to voice them.

  47. Sofa King
    February 25, 2008 12:19 pm

    Everyone is entitled to an opinion, but they are also entitled to feedback when they post their opinion in a public forum. Pardon me for getting defensive, but I get a little irritated when people trash my hometown because of property taxes.

    Yes, PA’s real estate taxes suck and the wage taxes can be a pain. Even though the sales tax is a little higher than it is here, 6-7% versus 5%, at least you all don’t have to pay tax on clothes and food, like most other states do.

    Downtown Pittsburgh has been a terrible shopping area for as long as I can remember, but there are some signs of life that are promising.

    As said before, all areas have their pluses and minuses…people just need to be objective and not suffer from the “grass is always greener” mentality.

  48. Sodapop
    February 25, 2008 6:59 pm

    How wonderful it is to see someone like SofaKing being such a cheerleader for the city of Pittsburgh. But Sofa, just as you are so up with your city you must realize that there are those who do not share the exact opinions for whatever reasons. That does not make them bad, just like it does not make you bad. You just have different opinions and priorities.

    I for one wish the taxes were not so incredibly high here. I can’t believe anyone actually likes high taxes, especially when you hear about the mismanagement and corruption in the government locally and nationally.

    The one mistake I think this city (who actually is in charge of this?0 is making right now is that tunnel they are digging from town to the north side (I don’t call it the north shore – it is the north side). That is one complaint I have.

    Thanks for listening to my opinion.

  49. Sofa King
    February 26, 2008 1:00 pm

    I think you are absolutely right, Sodapop, and I don’t think anyone’s “bad” for having a different viewpoint, I just thought it was a little myopic to trash the town because of one negative.

    I agree that taxes are ridiculous in the city and think that the piss-poor management and corruption that caused them give plenty of reason to be ticked off. I am just optimistic that with the younger generation becoming more active in the area, that the machine politics of the past will finally grind to an end.

    The North Shore Connector project is a laughably short-sighted and costly example of the type of mismanagement that has plagued the city for years. Pittsburgh and Allegheny County desperately need a sustainable and comprehensive mass transit system to become a truly viable metropolitan area moving into the 21st century and beyond. The connector barely pays lip service to the issue.

  50. Lance
    July 20, 2008 10:26 pm

    YEA-Abati was fired! Now, can they please do us all a favor and can Abata and Morris-Hello, they suck too!