The Christmas of living dangerously (Update #2)

Fig. 1. Glenbury Street, Pleasant Hills. Photograph by author, December 25, 2020.


  1. Originally published, December 25, 2020, 10:14 am.
  2. December 25, 7:33 pm:
    • So I went out into road conditions that were considerably less than ideal. But I was able to brake safely so kept working. And made a few observations:
      • The City of Pittsburgh’s snow plowing operation was nearly useless. I saw one plow that barely dented the slush. It didn’t seem to be dispensing salt.
      • A lot of people, even in sport utility vehicles and monster pickup trucks, you know, the kinds of vehicles that are supposed to be able to handle inclement weather, had a lot more trouble than I did. I think this might be because I have actual snow tires on my car. But also, I might be adjusting to driving in the snow. Even so, traction seemed to be getting worse in Carrick (a Pittsburgh neighborhood) at around 6:30 pm, so I decided to quit early. As soon as I crossed into Brentwood, the streets were a lot better. Once I was on Pennsylvania Route 51 traversing Whitehall, though, kinda bad again, and I’m not sure who’s responsible for that section of road.
      • On my way home, I went a little out of my way to get the photograph in figure 1. I had groused about all the Christmas decorations up around Pittsburgh without any snow.[1] The snow last night arrived just in time and was supplemented throughout the day.

Donald Trump

I look at this and I think to myself, it’s almost as if Donald Trump is trying[2] to provoke Mike Pence into invoking the 25th amendment.[3] But I also worry that this would further provoke the right-wing militia groups that have aligned with Trump.[4]

Paul Campos, “Pence Should Remove Trump From Office on Sunday,” New York, December 23, 2020,

Pamela Brown and Kevin Liptak, “Frustrated Trump met with Pence before holiday break,” Cable News Network, December 24, 2020,


This is, I reckon, my fourth Christmas in Pittsburgh, including two from when my parents and I lived here when I was a child. I still go by my grandparents’ house on occasion and I remember celebrating Christmas there. These are fond memories that pull me toward Dormont—and that very specific part of Dormont—when I contemplate moving. I want to be near the sidewalks I walked so many times with my grandfather as we went to breakfast (he always ate breakfast and lunch out).

It’s been over a year and a half since I moved here and I see there is some truth to what one of my passengers told me, that “Pittsburgh grows on you like a fungus.” I wish I had more time to explore what it has to offer, but being still stuck driving for Uber and Lyft,[5] I have to work every day that I can.

And so it is that I’m about to head out on a white Christmas. The snow had melted, except where plows had piled it, from the last storm but supposedly several inches fell overnight. I’ll be working. Or at least trying to.

At least the navigation is a bit easier now. At least I have my music in my car.

It is a Christmas of feeling forsaken, of realizing that the number of real friends in my life has been vanishingly small. There are two I can count; one hosts my WordPress sites. Another just texted me a Christmas greeting; she lives in North Carolina. The rest have used me for their own purposes, abandoned me when I failed to serve those purposes, or I have had to abandon because their purposes were unethical.

If it’s been a little shy of two years since I moved back here, it is also a little shy of twenty since I had a real job. It is not a merry Christmas and it is even less so as I see people suffering or facing job losses from the pandemic, poverty, and homelessness.[6] It is completely the opposite from those Christmases at my grandparents’ house.

  1. [1]David Benfell, “We’ve let a horrible year go to waste,” Not Housebroken, December 10, 2020,
  2. [2]Pamela Brown and Kevin Liptak, “Frustrated Trump met with Pence before holiday break,” Cable News Network, December 24, 2020,
  3. [3]Paul Campos, “Pence Should Remove Trump From Office on Sunday,” New York, December 23, 2020,
  4. [4]David Benfell, “Bloody November,” Not Housebroken, October 13, 2020,; David Benfell, “Donald Trump’s ‘brown shirts,’” Not Housebroken, October 16, 2020,; David Benfell, “The very scary way to four more years,” Not Housebroken, October 16, 2020,; David Benfell, “When the legitimacy of the system itself is threatened,” Not Housebroken, October 31, 2020,; David Benfell, “On the likely departure of Donald Trump,” Not Housebroken, December 11, 2020,; David Benfell, “Pure poison,” Not Housebroken, December 20, 2020,; David Benfell, “When it’s over but it isn’t,” Not Housebroken, December 21, 2020,
  5. [5]David Benfell, “About my job hunt,” Not Housebroken, n.d.,
  6. [6]David Benfell, “The modern Scrooge,” Not Housebroken, December 12, 2020,

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