The sense of community and neighborliness in Pittsburgh continues to astound me. Each day makes me more happy to have moved here. Last night showed me two neighborly qualities unique to Pittsburgh: private BBQs and communal help.
Several of my friends and I went to the Pittsburgh Passion game to watch them stomp Erie in the playoffs. We showed up early, secured a sweet parking space on a street of questionable safety within one block of the stadium, bought our tickets, and sought some dinner. Right outside the stadium, a family sat outside with some lawn furniture and a huge grill. They had coolers and racks of chicken. It eventually occurred to me that they were selling the chicken and iced tea to boot! Three bucks for a half chicken that smelled delicious seemed like a good deal to me. They also had three dogs for two bones, so the writers and I took residence with the family for a bit and bought dinner from someone's house.
I actually heard of this happening before. My friend lives in Bloomfield and says she walks by these sorts of "stands" daily. Just men and their kettle grills on their stoop. Why not? It's just neighborly to stop by and eat some chicken. It's also very strange, because mothers with cigarettes shoo children out of the lawn furniture for us, the company. It was more fun than tailgating, though with less beer.
After the "game" (I use quotations because the Passion won 63-7, had 34 dressed substitute players and competed against a team who brought 15 players spending 60 minutes charging both sides of the grid iron) we discovered the Maxima had a dead battery. Not just a little dead. The clock didn't turn on. The windows wouldn't slide down. The "check engine" light did not illuminate. It was hopelessly dead. For the next hour, people kept emerging to help us. A man in a fancy car stopped to give us a jump for almost twenty minutes. Another man in a Cincinnati Reds jersey wrangled our corroded jumper cables for us as smoke and sparks flew through the air.
The Reds guy told us we could pour Pepsi on the battery later and get that corrosion gunk off of there. He kept checking back on us to make sure things were ok as we waited for AAA. I have never lived in a place where strangers would stop what they were doing for so long to help people in distress. Not even a AAA Plus membership can provide instant supervision and continued communal assistance. Eventually, Ed from the Marriott hotel drove the Marriott van over and gave us a jump with functional jumper cables. I was beside myself.
I feel I owe a karmic debt to the city of Pittsburgh and its people. I need to finally let go of the road rage and head-down-while-I-walk grumpiness that seeped into my skin working in New York. I want to be a neighbor.