#4 Using Lawn Furniture to Save Parking Spaces

Pittsburgh has been home to some of the greatest labor-exploiting visionaries of the 19th and 20th centuries. Capable of both the ability to break the backs of men and give them a library to pass by as they walked home from working in the mill, these leaders were highly influential in building neighborhoods and critical infrastructure for their “highly valued workforce.” While many decisions were beneficial to neighborhood cohesiveness (i.e. the church-house-house-bar pattern of development), some created problems that could not have been foreseen at the time. The consequences of these decisions have lingered, resulting in one of the greatest day-to-day Yinzer challenges: determining where to park his 1989 Trans Am.

Parking is a fundamental Yinzer right. Since few yinzers have a garage, most parking is relegated to the relatively narrow neighborhood streets. Regardless of the actual law (no one owns the street in front of a house but the city/municipality), yinzers feel a certain level of entitlement to having that precious parking space right outside of their front door. Somehow, yinzers have coalesced around a solution to this problem, creating a communication device that says, “hey jagoff, I know my car ain’t here n’at, but don’t park here anyway.” That device is a lawn chair.

The chair-cum-parking-attendant is one of the sacred tennants of yinzer culture. Yinzers could drive around neighborhoods where the parking spaces are entirely populated with heat-formed resin chairs, and not one of them would park in any space in that area. The threat of vandalism or some future parking karma prevents them from considering any other action.

In the event that you might need to park on the street where Yinzers might live, be sure to NEVER, EVER move a chair to park. Regardless of your self-righteousness and knowledge that, not only is it legal for you to park in that space, it is illegal for the Yinzer to put a chair in the middle of the street, you or your car would most likely be in serious danger. Simply keep driving around and accept that Yinzer culture isn’t bad, it’s just different.

#3 Equating Poor Steelers Quarterback Play with Being Gay

The Steelers quarterback is the standard-bearer of Yinzer happiness at any point in the year. If the quarterback is playing well, he is the toast of the town. Sandwiches are named after him. Posters declaring him the savior of humanity abound. He’s even made a deputy sheriff. If the quarterback is not playing well, then there is only one logical conclusion to make — he must be gay.

The tradition of assuming struggling Steelers quarterbacks are gay dates back to Terry Bradshaw’s early days as a number one draft pick. When he struggled early in his career, the whisper campaign began.¬† He had a funny Louisiana accent and had a sense of humor, and did sort of wear some of that gay southern stuff that showed off his chest hair. And, let’s be honest, the whole failed country music career didn’t help.

Then along came Kordell Stewart. Stewart, a mediocre quarterback best known for throwing a ridiculous hail mary pass for his then Colorado Buffaloes, was drafted in the second round, which made Yinzers practically squeal with excitement. In his rookie season, head coach Bill Cowher used Kordell in a quarterback/running back/wide receiver/punting role, earning him the nickname “Slash.” After this, as Yinzers will tell you, Kordell could have had a Hall of Fame career as Slash, but he insisted he was starting NFL quarterback material. Kordell Stewart sucked at being a starting NFL quarterback. Therefore, the logic held, Kordell Stewart must be gay.

Any Yinzer worth his weight in perogies had a cousin’s friend’s uncle’s boyfriend’s sister that had actually SEEN Kordell Stewart cruising for gay sex in Schenley park. Regardless of the lack of actual evidence of Kordell’s homosexuality, Yinzers were convinced that his passes skipping off the Three Rivers Stadium AstroTurf were the result of limp wrists. Teammates were so affected by the rumors that in the 1997 season, Kordell Stewart convened a team meeting declaring his sexuality. “I believe in Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve,” he said. This was such a huge part of his career that Sports Illustrated featured the topic during a short-lived career resurgence.

If you know that you’re about to be with a group group of Yinzers, be sure to study the latest team news, such as the digestive habits of the entire offensive line. If you’re unaware of the latest, the conversation will inevitably lead to talking about Kordell Stewart’s great-player-to-gay conversation. If this occurs, stay calm and immediately align yourself as closely as you possibly can with this idea, declaring that you can’t believe how gay he was. To do otherwise would lead to suspicions of your own gayness, and you will be immediately ostracized from the group. If the conversation doesn’t die quickly, simply look at everyone and ask the following: “Do you remember that growth on Kordell Stewart’s neck? What was that thing, anyway?”

#2 Volunteer Fire Department Halls

Actual western Pennsylvania fire hall (trucks parked in rear)The importance of fire halls as a meeting/performance/party/funeral/wedding/fundraiser/bingo playing/drinking space cannot be overstated. Many fire halls have been constructed for this specific purpose; much like the room where Methodists have cookies and donuts after Sunday services. The scale, versatility and ability to make copious amounts of Italian sausage and stuffed shells make the fire hall perfect for any occasion.

Going to the fire hall is a rite of passage for developing Yinzers (Youngzers), and their first exposure is usually at a fundraiser. Fundraisers can take many forms: a night at the races, money bashes, carnivals or games of chance. Yinzers hope to win vast amounts of money at these events, but the fact that most firefighters are volunteers allows them to feel secure in the knowledge that their potential losses will go to purchasing critical fire hall infrastructure, such as a new four-beer tap system. Ideally, the Youngzer is provided the full scale of the fire hall experience, which requires there to be enough second-hand smoke for the child to develop advanced-stage lung cancer before 10:30 p.m. that evening.

Despite the near-orgasmic love Yinzers have for fundraisers, fire halls are at their best when used for weddings. There is no greater joy for Yinzer parents than standing next to the cookie table watching their children enter the reception wearing black and gold, waving terrible towels, and blasting Here We Go Steelers, Here We Go!. Funeral wakes are also popular events to host at a fire hall; it is amazing how pink and red carnations bring out the true beauty of 1970’s-era wood paneling.

In Yinzer circles, it’s really not a big event unless is happening at a fire hall, except for tailgaiting at Steelers/Pirates/Penguins games or at Ozzy Osbourne or Def Leppard concerts. In fact, events are so frequent at fire halls that the fire equipment is actually kept outside, for fear that an event might break out at any time. While most people would consider this to defeat the purpose of having a building to protect a piece of critical safety infrastructure, Yinzers see the world a bit differently.

If you ever encounter a Yinzer talking about an event that has happened at a fire hall, nod approvingly. In fact, ask at which volunteer fire company  the event took place and if the Yinzer happens to know the Fire Chief. While you might not actually care, you will have a friend for life, and might score an Iron City beer out of the interaction.

#1 Gabe’s (Gabriel Brothers)

Gabriel BrothersThere is no better place for a yinzer to purchase irregularly-sized or slightly-damaged clothing than Gabe’s. A yinzer might find a high-quality Nike polo shirt for $5 as long as he’s willing to ignore that the swoosh has been embroidered backwards. Perhaps the yinzer is searching for a post-retirement Jerome Bettis #36 Steelers jersey, and swears that the name being spelled “BETTS” is hardly noticeable. Even better, a yinzer can find a genuine pair of Baby Phat jeans and start a new trend — one leg twice as wide as the other.

You see, there’s little more that yinzers like than a deal. It doesn’t matter if they have to go through 40 racks of clothing to find a barely-damaged Steelers 1995 Super Bowl Champions t-shirt, nor does it matter that the Steelers actually lost that Super Bowl. What matters is that it’s a t-shirt, it bears the Steelers trademark, and it speaks to some level of success, regardless of whether it actually happened.

So, my fair yinzers, continue shopping in the store that isn’t really the Salvation Army, but it’s not really a retailer, either. Take comfort in the fact that people without an eagle eye for standard clothing dimensions will find you to be the most well-dressed yinzer at the fire hall.