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#YinzerTalk: The Lesson From My Night At The Bar Talking With A Girl From Philidelphia

The stories / #YinzerTalk portion of this site is probably utilized the least because it’s really just up to my own discretion as to whether something is worth talking about. It’s an opinion section more than anything. The thing about opinions in this day and age that I’ve very recently come to realize is, it’s pretty dangerous to have one. Even more so if you have one and make it publicly known.

Having stated it like that, stepping forward with your opinion makes you either very courageous or very stupid. I guess that all depends on how insightful the audience finds your opinion to be. Subjectivity is a powerful beast and it always surrounds you. But does it outnumber you? You never know unless you go for it and find out.

I’ve traveled a lot in my 30 years of life. Tour managing for a band in college afforded (I used that term very loosely because of how comically broke we were) me the opportunity to see pretty much every major city in the continental US and get a big taste of the people in each. The places I’ve missed, I’ve most likely made up for through my own personal travels. Through all of that, I tend to think I have a larger foundation for having a more accurate opinion about general groups of people, geographically, because I’ve most likely experienced a much larger sample size than most people I know. Obviously, I think that’s a fair way of looking at it.

I’m not so boorish to think nobody could ever have experienced more than I have. I know when to tuck away that sense of “experience-superiority” and listen to people who have a more extensive knowledge-base than I do. In that situation, my opinions become more like questions in search of validity for my experiences, which I find to be a very useful way to learn from someone who possesses what I find to be useful information.

How I conduct myself works for me and I’m by no means the standard for other people to base themselves off of (unless they want to), but there’s very little I wont embrace as a learning experience.

This is all relevant, I swear. Now onto the story…

I met a friend from high school at the bar. It’s been about a decade since we’ve seen each other and her moving to the left coast tends to open up extended hangout time gaps. Her being in town for a business conference was as convenient as it gets for both of us to catch up over a few drinks. Get caught up we did, but the center of the evening became another girl in the conference group. A 27 year old, city-girl from Philadelphia, married (I think?), working a government job, currently living in Baltimore, and extremely comfortable with delivering her unfiltered thoughts to me; someone she barely knew for more than a few hours.

My first interaction came via her grabbing my arm and asking me borderline in a panic, “Are you having another drink!?!?” It turns out the herd of conference goers was thinning, she didn’t want to leave, and since I was intermingling in the group, I was a valid person for her to ask. I’m sure you can figure out my response since it’s already a given that I spent a fair amount of time with her.

We went through all the introductions and I quickly learned her sense of humor was enjoying making people feel that extremely awkward feeling of embarrassment. The best description I can give you is the feeling you have pretty much through the entire movie of Meet the Parents. Mind you, I don’t really like that movie because I pretty much hate feeling like that. She wasn’t a fan of me spoiling her fun by not letting the jokes run as long as she wanted. With the amount that she kept setting people up to step into it, she started coming off cartoon bully-ish.

It didn’t take long for her to jump into the “juicy gossip.” A prominent male member of the group was apparently not being as subtle as he thought about laying the groundwork to have an affair with one of the ladies in the group. The girl from Philly handled that scenario way differently than I would have. When the male came within arm’s length, she leaned in and whispered, “Hide it better.”

He played it off as an absurd thought, as you might expect he would. I don’t have the slightest clue if she was on point or not, but either way, when things aren’t my problem and I don’t really know it’s actually a problem at all, I don’t look for ways to make them my problem by bluntly confronting a party involved. I said as much, but was immediately dismissed by a slight eye-roll and a continuation of her rant.

There wasn’t much space to stand at the bar where we were. A gap had opened up down the bar (it was a very long bar) and most of the group moved down there. The girl from Philly didn’t have my vantage point and didn’t see it like that.

“They’re ditching us!” she passive aggressively snipped in the groups direction but only loud enough for my friend and I to hear.

“I can’t believe they’re just leaving us!” she added.

I explained they never actually left and just moved down the bar. She quickly shot back, “Why are you so damn positive all the time?”

This is a completely foreign concept to me. I don’t know too many people who think I’m an overly-positive person. Not that I’m endlessly negative, but my point of view makes this world an easy place to be a very cynical and sarcastic person. This turned out to be a little bit of turning point for me.

As stated earlier, She thought the group was leaving the bar entirely and perceived what I said as giving them a very undeserved benefit of the doubt.

I rolled with the shot and replied in a way to purposely change the conversation’s direction, “It’s finally warm out! We’ve been so cold and depressed and touchy here all winter-long. How can you not be positive, finally being able to feel comfortable everywhere you go?”

The redirection worked. The Philly girl asked me if I was born and raised in Pittsburgh. I am. I explained to her my travel history and if it seemed like I might have uprooted and come back or something to that effect, it was probably because I’ve taken advantage of leaving Pittsburgh as often as I can. As far as my “positivity” is concerned, trying to stay optimistic is actually a very conscious effort I try to commit to because of how frustrating Pittsburgh winters are for me.

Her response to that was coupled with somewhat of a disapproving head shake, “Oh… that’s not Philly. Philadelphia is SO negative!”

I agreed with her but didn’t really feel like going down that conversation path. She steered the conversation into more workplace affair gossip. But that’s really where this story ends. There’s more I could tell, but it’s not really worth expanding on. She said it all…

It’s just negative.

Pittsburgh folk, yinzers if you will, are traditionally supposed to hate Philadelphia because of the cross-state sports rivalry. To me, that reasoning is illogical and needless resentment to hold so passionately. I like to travel. If I’m not going to like a place, it’s going to be because I don’t care for it physically and/or the people there turn me off.

I don’t like Philadelphia. The city doesn’t really do anything for me. I don’t find it that attractive. The people have appeared very negative in my experiences with them, making the city seem even less attractive to me. It was so universal, it’s like there was legitimately something in the water. I know some really nice people from Philly, but they’re transplants and no longer liver there. I don’t know them from meeting them on their home turf. Even they have those moments where that extraordinary level of negativity shows through.

One thing I have never attempted to do was broach the topic of my subpar Philly experiences with someone who lives there or is from there. It’s potentially a very touchy situation to try to start a dialogue over that because you just never know how passionate/irrational someone is in regard to their city. It’s never been that important to me to pursue.

I always wondered if it was me and maybe I just had a couple of bad experiences. I haven’t been to Philadelphia too many times; 2 or 3 tops. That’s few enough to have bad enough luck to run into all the wrong people. Physically, the city is what it is to me and I’m not much a fan of it beyond its cheesesteaks. Substance-wise, I don’t think I can disregard the blunt statement from the girl who grew up there. It coincides exactly with my experiences and sentiments about the people of Philadelphia, and she volunteered it over so willingly and confidently, as though it was basically a fact. She would know much better than I.

All in all, she was a nice girl. She wanted nothing more than to hold conversation and have some drinks. Her personality was a little rough, but I’m sure she thought I was as strange as they come too. We all had fun. She just happened to deliver a line that made me feel as thought I had very authentic Philadelphia experiences.

The point of all of this is that I had an opinion about a place that is largely echoed by other people from Pittsburgh, but it’s hard to tell if the sports bias weighs in on their opinions. Generally, it does. It took this random encounter with a girl who has experienced basically all Philly has to offer, for me to feel like my point of view of the city in general, is generally correct. Not 100% correct. Generally correct.

Now the big question is this…

Prior to reading this, if you shared the same sentiments I have about Philadelphia for less than the reasons I had for feeling that way, is this story and my process of reasoning enough for you to feel like you can continue to agree and just take my word for it? OR… do you feel like you should experience it for yourself and create your own way of validating your impressions? And I guess there’s also one other stance… OR… will you just continue to feel however you feel about Philadelphia despite any logical/rational process?

 

I guess feel free to hit up the comments and say whatever you have to say. This just happened to be an interesting encounter that brought a slight sense of validation to impressions I’ve held about Philadelphia for a while.

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