Monday, August 15, 2011

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Home is family


I met a guy from Pittsburgh on a train a couple weeks ago.

We were both headed to Buffalo's inner harbor on the mostly-useless Metro Rail to see a concert.

I'm not even sure how the fact that he was from Pittsburgh came up, but it did. He had just moved from Pennsylvania to Buffalo a couple weeks prior. And he had already decided he hated it.

I have to assume he moved here for a job. Or a girl. Really that's the only two reasons to move from one area to another – money or love. And I really hoped it was for a girl since the jobs here are scarce enough as they are without people from Pittsburgh moving here to take them.

I was really irritated, though, that someone could move into our fair city and talk trash about it. We Western New Yorkers are aware of our shortcomings. We don't need someone from Pennsylvania pointing them out to us.

Being a Western New Yorker comes with it certain privileges, like the ability to complain about it. And, of course, we do plenty of it.

We spend a large portion of the year complaining about the weather and the snow, but when anyone outside of Buffalo mentions how much snow we get, they become public enemy number one.

Is this disingenuous of us? Or is it just the way things work?

I visited Pittsburgh a few years ago. I was mostly unimpressed. Pittsburgh is Buffalo. It's also Cleveland. It's any struggling northern town, really. Pittsburgh just wants to make it through to the end of the day so it can start over tomorrow in hopes of getting it right.

Really, that's how I view Western New York. We're a collection of people with certain commonalities … including the need to wear mittens four months out of the year … and the desire to just get through the day.

I had considered that maybe because of the similarities between Pittsburgh and Buffalo it's okay that the guy on the train complained. Then I dismissed that thought.

See, it's a family thing. Just as we are allowed to gripe about our own families, but would defend them vigorously to anyone not part of that family … I feel the same about Buffalo. If the guy on the train wanted to complain about his family, so be it, but he was trashing mine.

Maybe it would have irritated me less had he had less valid points. The truth hurts, though.

I've never lived in the City of Buffalo. But that's where I tell people from out of town I'm from. I used to say Niagara Falls, but my world view has grown, apparently. Of course, to anyone from Niagara County, I tell them I'm not from Niagara Falls. I'm from the Town of Niagara. And now I make it a point to tell people I live in the City of Tonawanda. Not N.T. And not the town.

Sure the City of Tonawanda has some flaws. But I'd never let someone from Amherst tell me what they are.

And I'd certainly never let someone from Pennsylvania tell me what Amherst's flaws are. Them's fightin' words.