Western Pennsylvania

Chance Encounters

I hear from my loved ones that they keep up with me by reading what I post here. So, is some stuff about my work life in Pittsburgh.

I took this photo from my office desk in downtown Pittsburgh last week, at about 6;30 or 7 in the morning. I usually take an early bus (the 5:45 express bus) so that we can beat the traffic before the inevitable crash slows down traffic on Route 28.

My employer has an open-office-isn floor plan, so I can see this view from my desk if I turn around. I live about 20 miles upstream on this river.

I work in a building directly across the street from one where my maternal great-grandmother worked. My maternal grandfather was a retired Pittsburgh policeman, and he once patrolled on motorcycle the streets that I now walk along every day to and from my office.

My mom’s family lived in Pittsburgh for several generations. I have a century-old photo at home of my great-grandfather posing with his parents and siblings at a portrait gallery on Carson Street. My mom grew up in Carrick, and when she married my dad they moved to central PA. I grew up in two counties along the turnpike, both hours from Pittsburgh. Then I ended up working in downtown Pittsburgh. This was either fate, or else Pittsburgh is the only place where I can find a well-paying job.

One time a few summers ago, I was on my lunch break and I was dilly-dallying on a sidewalk across the street from my office, just watching people. A man walked up to me and asked me how I was doing. He made me feel uncomfortable, so I hurried back inside my building. I didn’t need to get back to work yet – I just wanted to get away from that man. My discomfort wasn’t rational or fair. About 15 minutes later, a taxi lost control and ran up onto the sidewalk, at the spot where I had been standing, and hit several people. Not me, because I was in my office, sitting at my desk, reading about the accident on a news website.

One time, I walked into my building and ran into a second cousin from my dad’s side of the family. (My dad’s family is based in Westmoreland County.)  It turned out that she worked across the street from me, and she bought her coffee in my building.

Another time, I was across the street from my building and I ran into my aunt – my mom’s sister – and her daughter who is of course my cousin. I hadn’t seen them in several months. We were cater-corner from that building where my great-grandmother (my aunt’s grandmother) used to work.

All of this happened in front of prime real estate in the downtown of the our region’s economic center. So of course, there are going to be a lot of people on the streets here. People are going to cross paths. They are going to impact the lives of strangers.  But how random are chance encounters, really?

It’s late, and I’m going to bed now. I’m going to post more photos later of things that I see and do in Pittsburgh. Maybe I’ll have some more stories about the people that I encounter here.