“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.