Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Welcome to Pittsburgh--Sort of

By Annette Dashofy

In case you haven’t heard, Pittsburgh “welcomes the world” beginning tomorrow. This is the slogan for the G-20 Summit which takes place this Thursday and Friday.

I happen to live about 30 miles from the city, so I’m observing the madness from a distance. As an alumni of the Pittsburgh Citizen’s Police Academy, I received an email a month ago asking us to volunteer to help at designated residence sites for police officers coming from out of town and out of state.

More often than not, I respond to these calls to duty. This one? Sorry. No.

For one thing, I’d have to drive into town and from the sounds of things, that won’t be permitted. I’d have to park and take mass transit. Along with every other soul trying to get into the Burgh.

Maybe if I lived in town and could walk to my assignment… Okay, let’s be honest. Probably not. I admit it. I’m a big chicken. There will be crazy people in Pittsburgh for the next few days.

I’m not the only one who feels this way. Schools and businesses are closing. Some windows have been boarded up. Anyone with a few spare vacation days is taking them this week.

Hosting this G-20 thing sounds like one big rip-off to me. It’s like someone telling you they’ve decided to throw a party. At your house. And you have to pay for it. And clean up the mess afterwards.

Just doesn’t sound like a good idea.

Me? I drive miles out of my way to avoid run-of-the-mill road construction. You better believe I’ll be giving downtown Pittsburgh a wide berth for the next few days.

Ah, but it isn’t just downtown. Here in Washington County, there has been talk that a local outlet shopping center might be targeted by protesters. I won’t be going there either. Unfortunately, I do need to head to a couple of stores near the airport tomorrow. It’s not my choice. If I had my druthers, I’d stay firmly ensconced in my log cabin “cave” and listen to the activity on my scanner.

It’s too late to change things now. The world has been invited and is coming to the party at our house. Fine. Just please wipe your feet and don’t trash the place.


Gina said...


I got the email asking for help, too, but had to decline because I'm still recovering from surgery, which means I spend every free minute sleeping, get tired if I stand up for more than 5 minutes or walk more than 20 yards, and live in fear of accidently doing something that might cause the incision to reopen before it's completely healed.

That said, I feel as if I'm missing out on a chance to participate in something major. Were I in better health, I'd probably be dividing my time between volunteering to assist the police and taking part in some of the demonstrations. I know a lot of people are critical of the protestors, but there are times when it make sense to take to the streets in support of liberty and justice. I'm old enough to remember people making similar disparaging comments about those of us who were out marching for civil rights, women's rights, and against the war in Vietnam. Most of you know that I frequently participate in charity walks, raising money to fight stroke, MS, Alzheimers, etc. Why not then walk in support of universal health care or against genocide?

That said, it is getting weird downtown. I work in a building that's inside the security perimeter, and the Jersey barriers and plywood have been going up all around the neighborhood. Big fences have appeared around the Federal Building and even along the roads in Schenley Park. My office, like most others, is closing on Thursday and Friday. Despite all the spiffing up that's gone on over the last few weeks, I suspect that the international visitors are likely to go away with the impression that Pittsburgh is a lovely ghost town.

Annette said...

Gina, thanks for stopping in and sharing a truly "insider's" view. Glad you're doing better, but sorry you aren't better enough to follow your heart.

The part about participating in something big is why I really did consider helping. But the logistics of traveling into the city are just too prohibitive.

And there's the "I'm a chicken" thing, too.

Wilfred Bereswill said...

Annette, I'm not normally one for long lines and sitting in traffic. However, it would be an awesome chance to people watch. I'll bet you could get some interesting ideas for stories or characters from just walking around.

I suspect the terrorism threat level has risen there as well.

Sounds to me like a book waiting to be written.

Joyce said...

I don't see the point of people protesting for the G-20. None of the delegates are going to see them, and for the most part it annoys the hell out of the residents--especially if the protesters are destructive. There are other ways to get your point across. For some of these people it's just an excuse to wreak havoc.

Hubby works in the federal building, and they were told to either work from home this week, or at their assigned case sites. My youngest son works at the University of Pittsburgh and he was told to work from home on Thursday and Friday.

All that said, this is the kind of protest that people may actually pay attention to:

Point Park Students

Annette said...

Joyce, I saw the YouTube of the Point Park students and their dance protest earlier this morning on That's Church (formerly the Burgh Blog, for those who don't know). Fantastic.

Will, I'll have to limit my people watching to people listening on my scanner. We have a running joke that you can't get there from here and that's on a good day. They're closing the downtown (dauntaun?) area to all traffic after midnight and the bus routes have been completely revised, so you REALLY can't get there from here now. Gina and the other folks who live in the city will have to be eyewitnesses and report back to the rest of us.

Joyce said...

The idiocy begins:

Bridge shutdown

queenofmean said...

I'm normally downtown & at Station Sq on Wednesdays, but chose to go yesterday & avoid downtown even today. And, yes, the craziness has begun. Unfortunately, the police are going to be tied up dealing with this kind of crap. I just hope no one (ie, police or rescue workers) get hurt trying to get those crazies off the bridge. And if one of the crazies get hurt, they'll probably sue the city & add to the expense of hosting this big 'party'.
Will, you are so right about the people watching thing. It just would be so difficult to get into downtown over these next couple of days. Besides, I'm not sure how safe it will be. It depends on how destructive the demonstrations get. The police will have enough to worry about without worrying about bystanders, too.
Having said that: Hello, world. Hope you find Pittsburgh to be as great as we do.

Anonymous said...

I'm glad I'm retired and no longer have to travel the West End bridge. It will be a mess around Pittsburgh the next two days. BTW, this is my first post on this board. - Cheryl Elaine Williams

Carol Silvis said...

Add my hopes to the rest that our city comes away unscathed. I think Pittsburgh is a beautiful city with many great points of attraction worth seeing.

Joyce said...

Cheryl didn't mention this, so I will--She'll be guest blogging here on Wednesday Sept. 30th.