A Pittsburgh Pop Quiz
Treat this like a Cosmo quiz, except none of the questions are about shoes or sex.
I’ve learned to deal with the rubberneckers, the tunnelbrakers, the turn-signal doohickey ignorers and the drivers who drive so slow you’d think they were accelerating their car Flintstone-style. The drivers I cannot deal with—the ones who makes me itch to use my horn and not toot but to lay on it as if I just shouted, “No whammies!”—are the gridblockers.
As I sit there staring at the car blocking the grid, stopping me from crossing the intersection despite the fact that the driver now has a red light (and I have a green light), I shift my gaze to him.
His head is down. He pretends not to notice the incessant angry horns. He has an intriguing piece of lint on his pants leg, it seems. It holds his attention while all around him, the “ERRRRRRR” creeps into his closed windows. I continue to glare at his cocked head, willing the death rays emitting from my eyeballs to pierce his pasty flesh.
God grant me patience to deal with the driver who blocks the grid in downtown Pittsburgh, where there are actually signs that say, “Don’t Block the Grid, Jerk!” I might have added that last word. If I were mayor, that’s what the sign would say.
Like every city, Pittsburgh has some residents who lack a few common courtesies. Blocking the grid is one of them. Here are a few more. Test yourself.
1. You’re a smoker waiting at a bus stop with a crowd of commuters. Do you:
A. Step away from the crowd to smoke.
B. Stay in the crowd but attempt to blow the smoke as high as you can.
C. Blow smoke rings in their faces like you’re trying to ring their noses for super-bonus points.
2. You’re a pedestrian waiting to cross Grant Street. Do you:
A. Wait until the “Walk” sign lights up and then proceed with caution.
B. Walk during the “Do Not Walk” sign, provided no cars are coming.
C. “What sign? I have the right of way at all times. It’s the law n’at.”
3. You’re a pedestrian who chooses to cross the street on a “Do Not Walk” sign. There is a car waiting to cross the intersection, but you’re in the crosswalk. Do you:
A. Sprint across the intersection as if the Horsemen of the Apocalypse are chasing you with pestilence-tipped arrows.
B. Walk your normal walk.
C. Walk as if you’re racing a turtle and letting him win because you want him to feel good about himself.
4. You’re on the bus the Monday morning after a horrific Steelers’ loss to the Patriots on “Sunday Night Football.” Do you:
A. Talk quietly. Do not make any loud noises. Do not laugh. Do not even smile.
B. Break a smile, but only because a friend texted you a hilarious Tom Brady-eats-kittens-for-energy joke.
C. Shout, “Dang, it’s quiet! Who died?! Oh, yeah, THE OFFENSE. LOL.”
*5. You’re merging onto the Parkway East’s heavy bumper-to-bumper traffic. You’re at the start of the merge lane. Do you:
A. Travel a ways down the merge lane nearly to the end and then enter traffic. Wave.
B. Immediately attempt to enter traffic as soon as you possibly can, causing further on-ramp delays.
C. Come to a complete stop at the “Yield” sign, and then make a sharp left into the traffic.
*This issue could be a column in itself, as there’s no clear consensus among ’Burghers as to whether A or B is the right answer.
6. You’re in the Iggle. You have 12 items. The sign says “10 items or fewer.” Do you:
A. Find another line.
B. Hand two items to your significant other and have him or her get in line behind you.
C. Figure that “rounding down” is such a thing in grocery store item-counting lingo.
7. You’re in Market Square. You see the sign that says, “Do Not Feed The Pigeons.” Do you:
A. Figure that the opposite of feeding pigeons is kicking pigeons. Do your part to follow that law.
B. Not feed the pigeons. Duh.
C. Throw enough birdseed on the ground to feed Hitchcock’s avian army.
I think you know which letter I think you should have selected for each question. But if you want to score yourself, give yourself five points for every A answer, four points for every B answer and negative five points (and a smack on your own face) for every C answer.