Wednesday, August 19

Obligatory Pittsburgh Complaint about Construction

I grew up thinking there were three absolute truths in life:

1. There will be snow for Halloween.
2. You can totally make a meal out of lefse, just so long as you have butter.
3. If you turn left three times, you'll end up back where you started.

I still think all three are true, but only if you are in Minot, North Dakota. Here in the land of Pittsburgh? #1 isn't really a guarantee, but more a possibility. #2 is some sort of foreign language. #3? HAHAHAHAHA! Turn left three times here, and you'll end up in West Virginia.

No. Really.

While a map of good ol' Minot looks kinda like this:

A map of Pittsburgh looks more like this:

Which is why I get absolutely, positively sporkified when I see these:

Before our move, I drove a whopping three miles from our house, to daycare, and then to work. It was a beautiful thing. Now my commute is a bit longer. It happens to be roughly seven or eight miles from our house to my office, and then I get to drive right past it as I drive another three miles or so to daycare.

So, ten miles. Not that bad.

Except, those ten miles happen to be on roads that feature signs like this:

When those signs are joined by Road Closed signs? THINGS GET UGLY.

Right now there are, and yes I really did count them all, six construction zones between home and daycare. SIX. That's six times that I have the wondrous opportunity to drive down the road only to be stopped by the good ol' Road Closed sign. Since this is Pittsburgh and we don't need no stinkin' detours, I get to try to figure out an alternate route on my own.

Um, please refer to the map of Pittsburgh. There ain't no stinkin' detours because there ain't no stinkin' alternative way of getting from Point A to Point B, unless you are OK with a reeeeeeally long drive through the middle of nowhere. The first time that I tried to navigate around the road closures, I was able to show Alexis the countryside. In Texas. And probably Massachusetts. I think we may have even seen a little bit of California.

Can you say painful? I CAN.

It has taken me two weeks to find a route that doesn't require that Alexis and I carry our passports. Two weeks.

It's enough to make me kinda sorta miss when my commute consisted mainly of looking at the rear-end of a beat-up Accord.

Can someone please pass the lefse?


  1. #2: I do not understand the thrill of lefse. All my Norwegian Lutheran Minnesotan friends swear by its amazingness, personally I think it tastes like butter and sugar smeared on a tortilla. Ick. Pass the pierogies, please.

    #3: I get turned around in Minneapolis, which looks like that first map. I can find my way from point A to point C to point E to point D to point B in Pittsburgh without batting an eye. My sense of direction is calibrated to hills and valleys, twists and turns and roads that change names five times, and work zones.

  2. Oh god, it's the worse! I drive 5 miles one way to work and hit 4 construction zones. How can a person be expected to sit calmly while in traffic for 10 minutes when you can still see your house!?!?

  3. Tell me about it! On our way to your place, I had directions printed out from Mapquest. Jim decided we should use the GPS. The GPS chick was apparently high, because she got us completely lost. I started screaming at JIm that he should have used the directions I printed out. Then it got very quiet in the car for about 10 minutes, except for the sound of high GPS chick going "Recalculation". On the way home, she took us to the road that is closed. When I turned to go a different way, she took us around and around, and... back to the road that was closed. That was when my head exploded and I threw her into a field, where a cow ate her.

  4. Anonymous8:13 AM

    We live just beyond the madness that is 28 at Harmarville. At one point last year there were at least 6 construction projects in Harmarville alone between 28, the Turnpike and Freeport Road. It was madness.

    You've been here long enough to know there are 3 seasons here in da Burgh:

  5. @Caroline--Sugar and cinnamon on lefse is a crime against humanity. Just butter. Nothing but butter, please and thank you. (Funny thing, I feel the same way about pierogies.)

    @Jen--Mr. Husband keeps trying to use his TomTom (which I have renamed AssTom because it's an ass) and refuses to listen to me that it WILL lead him into trouble. He's almost ready to admit I'm right, but I don't think he'll do it out loud.

  6. That is exactly what I LOVE about Oklahoma.. all of the roads are laid out in perfectly square miles.. so if you get lost, all you have to do is drive in a square and you end up where you first started. It's EASY! Driving in northern Illinois, however, is a HEADACHE. We were driving down a major highway and I saw an exit for the same road THREE DIFFERENT TIMES. That is how ridiculously curvy their stupid roads are!!

  7. You've been in da Burgh long enough...I'm sure SOMEONE has given you directions that include the words "used to be" as in "You make a left where Isaly's 'used to be' and then you go across the old 6th street bridge - it's called somethin' else now..." This is why there are no detours. No one can understand the locals when they try to give directions!

  8. I have a very, very old great aunt that lives in Pittsburgh. A couple of years ago, my sister and her 6 month old twins, me and my two year old twins, and my Mom all piled into my car and drove to Pittsburgh to visit her. I drove.

    At the end of our trip, I felt like I deserved a medal for navigating my way around the city.

  9. I will be laughing about this all day. I've lived here my whole life and still get lost! I try to convince Elliot I need a GPS, but he just laughs at me.

    By the way WTH are Lefse?

  10. I feel your pain. I have a LOOOOONG drive, much of which is through prime snowed-in and flash flood areas. It sucks

  11. Bahahahahaha! You have no idea how many rants my husband had to listen to about this when I moved to Pittburgh. I would go on and on about the fact that for hundreds of years cities were based on grids and right angles - it works and is beautiful. But not in the burgh. Oh no. And when we had the flood of aught4? I took a job leading a team of crisis counselors in the effected burbs. I drove with a map in my lap for 6 months and cursed A LOT. I couldn't have any of my team drive with me because I didn't think having them see the CRISIS COUNSELING boss sobbing and rocking in a gas station parking lot because I was lost AGAIN was very professional. But I learned the city relatively well - at least the low lying parts.

    And before I moved there? I had a job interview on the south side with a counseling agency. I was 1.5 hours late because I kept getting lost. I called the agency and got directions from they 3 times (they didn't know what the eff they were talking about either). I finally called my now husband and said "I'm at a BP next to a Subway. I can see one of the stadiums but I don't know which one it is. Come find me." And he did! The place waited for me and still offered me the job (I turned it down - any agency that needy scared me).

  12. @Gina--We have the same sort of commute, based on what I know about your part of town. It's SO FUN waiting for a tractor to move.

  13. @TheMommy--I never, ever, ever ask a lifetime Pittsburgh resident for directions for exactly that reason. "It's by the Alcoa building," means something TOTALLY different to them than it does to me.

  14. Bahaha--that is perfect. It really is hellish to have a detour anywhere in Pittsburgh, but especially in the boonies where there really aren't other options.

    Right now McArdle coming down from Mt. Washington is closed. My mom lives up there, and it is a PAIN IN THE BUTT to get home from her house right now. Maybe one day we'll cross paths in Texas.

    Why does Alexis look like she's 6 in that picture? Where is the little kid face?! (She's so cute.)

  15. I'm sorry, but hahahahaha! The tractor sign just slayed me. See, I'm laughing because we get the tractors out in the sticks where I live, but we don't get the signs warning us in advance. No, we just get to come flying around a curve to be faced with a (sort of) rolling roadblock.

    But geesh, SIX construction zones? That's gotta be a record. Do you, by any chance, pass a Starbucks on any of your detours? Cause that would be the only way it could get better.

  16. @MadameQueen--NO. That might just be why I'm bitter. I neeeed Starbucks.

  17. Once, three years ago, I missed my exit in Boston whilst trying to drive to the Children's Museum. FOUR HOURS LATER, we found it.

  18. HA!

    Luckly summer construction season should end by Halloween...just in time for the snow!

  19. Anonymous4:12 PM

    I am so thankful that Denver's street system looks a whole lot like Minot's - and as an added bonus, a lot of the streets here are alphabetized or groupd by a like element (ie., trees and flowers.) California, however . . . we lived in LA for 6 weeks - I learned how to drive from the house we were living in to my in-laws, the park, the grocery store, and the mall - if it wasn't the traffic, it was the street configuration and/or construction.

  20. Anonymous8:50 PM

    If you want to get around in The Burgh, you first have to let go of primitive notions regarding directions. Ie. North South East and West. Those directions might be relevant in god-forsaken towns such as Denver, or Minot ND, but not in Pittsburgh! There's no such thing here. We have "turn left" and "turn right", but anyone who talks about "turn North" etc is trying to lose you to the Dark Side!!

    Actually, Pittsburgh streets make a lot of sense. You just have to mentally visualize the topography! :)

  21. Anonymous10:27 PM

    On my first solo trip out nearly 3 years ago- with all 3 of my kids in the van with me- I got lost. Really lost. A trip that should have taken 15 minutes took me THREE HOURS and I discovered back dirt roads overlooking the major highways I needed to be on, and I had to ask directions from these guys who were eating lunch on the back of one of those scary kidnapper-type vans.

    There was no construction that time.

  22. i used to have a t-shirt that had road signs (one way, do not enter, detour, road closed, etc.) and said "welcome to pittsburgh. sorry we're closed." which is why i still give directions to folks that start, "you can't get there from here. follow me." gawd, i love this town.

    ok, seriously, alexis is such a burgh GIRL and not burgh baby. these recent photos blow me away. it has to be crazy for you!

    (i totally had to click on the lefse link.)

  23. When I lived down South, people used to look at me funny when I gave directions by landmarks instead of "go north on, then turn east ..." (etc). But here, it's completely necessary, because as one commenter said, those rules simply don't apply.

  24. Now that's funny. You're in the construction field and you're complaining about it?

  25. Our topography just keeps things interesting. I assume that Minot, ND is a lot flatter than Pittsburgh!

  26. @Sarah--Too much of anything is still too much.

  27. lol. this has been the bain of my existance for a long time! and i suffer through 28 on a regular basis.

    oh, and they say that in Pittsburgh, the closest point from A to B is under construction.