I'm still dialing in exactly what's wrong in Pittsburgh. Two weeks ago, on the heels of a furious spate of no-show or half-assed contractors, I declared "the bar for competence here is really low." And sadly, this is true. Whether it’s traffic control, party planning, or my swimming pool, Pittsburghers don’t think things out or ask if things are as good as they should be. They just stare straight through avoidable problems. Incompetence is their background noise.
This, I’ve decided, is a function of overall low expectations. They don’t think their newish stadium is inadequate or ugly simply because they don’t bother imagining anything better. “Stadiums don’t have to look like the side of a Newark public bus,” I tell them. “Look at other cities. Stadiums are architecturally beautiful works of art. They’re civic assets, not prominent eyesores.”
“Who cares what a stadium looks like?” they replied, confused.
Okay, fine. Let’s talk about function. The sight-lines are the worst in the league. When someone exactly my height sat in front of me, 25% of the field was obstructed by his head. “That’s not the case in the other 31 stadiums,” I said. “If you’re going to the trouble of building as stadium, why build a shitty one?”
“So why don’t you just move you head?” a fellow asked pleasantly. And in this anecdote, you see our disconnect. I wonder why they accept, even expect half-assed efforts. They wonder why I wonder. We stare at one another in confusion a lot.
I explained to Risa how I made a TV and its sound system portable so I can move them to the pool room for movie night. “Wow, you’re really particular about that stuff,” she observed, due to my merely thinking ahead.
When I was angered by unreturned calls and a no-show and fired a contractor, he too called me “particular.”
When the $200-premium, white-glove furniture delivery guys learned that I expected them to set up the furniture where I wanted it, as promised, they called me “particular.” All three instances occurred within two weeks.
After a lifetime of never being called “particular” in four other states, in Pittsburgh, this is my identity. I suppose I can live with it. It's better than living without it.