Originally published, April 3, 2021, 1:30 pm
April 3, 2021, 10:22 pm:
Fig. 1. Lake Erie, from a beach in Presque Isle State Park, Mill Creek Township, Pennsylvania. Photograph by author, April 3, 2021.
Having failed to get my own car back from the dealer yesterday or today, and having abjectly failed to get a rental car to drive for Uber, I decided to take the rental car I had for a drive up to Erie.
On my previous trip up there, I had noticed the road conditions were far superior to comparable roadways in Pittsburgh, but really hadn’t covered enough ground to be conclusive.
Today, I drove around a bit more, looking for a place I get vegan food (it’s slim pickings up there), and pretty much confirmed the earlier observation. It appears they are obsessive—is it really ‘obsessive’ when you actually need to be doing this?—about sealing cracks in the roadways and the payoff is evident.
Now, you can’t tell me that the weather is less harsh in Erie, which is, after all, right on Lake Erie. So what that says is that the powers that be around Pittsburgh have decided that potholes are a feature, not a bug. Because if Erie can take better care of their roads, so can Pittsburgh.
But Pittsburgh area authorities don’t. And I’ve been paying a very high price, a price I can’t afford, for their negligence in car maintenance.
And because it seems impossible to get a rental car to drive for Uber with, and because it seems impossible for me to obtain alternative employment, I’m going to be stuck subjecting my car to this abuse in a job I don’t even want but is the only one I can get.
I’m a pretty unhappy camper right now.
Overall, Erie seems a much saner place, actually a bit reminiscent of Sacramento, California, I would guess around the 1960s. Almost nothing is built with any height in Erie and the town generally has a look that I still saw traces of in the late 1970s in Sacramento. There’s almost no blight, at least that I saw—what I did see was in commercial, not residential, space.
I saw no campaign posters or flags for Donald Trump and no Gadsden (“Don’t Tread On Me”) flags in Erie, though I saw an upside-down U.S. flag, along with a Trump flag, flying along I-79 southbound on my return. Campaign flags and banners are still common in Pittsburgh, where five months after the fact, you could be forgiven for thinking the election had not yet been held.
I saw what I think was a Vietnam War memorial, but there was no gun on display.
And I remedied an annoyance from my cross-country trip a couple years ago, when I was still thinking I would move to western Massachussetts, where I caught, at best, barely a glance of Lake Erie (figures 1 and 2).
But because it’s a small town, my financial insecurity would skyrocket there if I moved there as an Uber/Lyft driver. It’s really out of the question.
Fig. 2. Lake Erie, from a beach in Presque Isle State Park, Mill Creek Township, Pennsylvania. Photograph by author, April 3, 2021.
Philip Bump, “Vaccine skepticism and disregard for containment efforts go hand in hand,” Washington Post, April 2, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2021/04/02/vaccine-skepticism-disregard-containment-efforts-go-hand-in-hand/
Oliver Morrison, “With all eyes on Biden in Pittsburgh, 13 local experts diagnose the region’s biggest infrastructure needs,” Public Source, March 31, 2021, https://www.publicsource.org/with-biden-in-pittsburgh-13-local-experts-diagnose-the-regions-biggest-infrastructure-needs/
Reuters, “Amazon apology to Democrat includes admission drivers urinate in bottles,” Guardian, April 3, 2021, https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2021/apr/03/amazon-apology-democrat-mark-pocan
I did not get my car back yesterday. It turns out the parts did not come in. I’m hoping for Monday; I can keep the rental car until Wednesday at noon if need be.