Tuesday, November 29, 2022

When Traffic Hits…



Ciao, bella! Hello again, my children! Mamma’s back with an update and, having been away in Sicily for so long, Mamma’s eyes have been opened to a world of change happening in our sleepy burg. So many things occurred while Mamma was gone and she doesn’t know where to begin. So for now, let’s start with a conversation Mamma had recently with a truly beloved child.


As is her way, Mamma was minding her own business at the charming little Farmers’ Market, admiring a number of vegetables she didn’t even recognize. In Mamma’s day, you knew your onions from your tomatoes but now it’s all kinds of mixed up. Anyway, suddenly Mamma was approached by one of her children – let us call her Isabella. After a respectful kiss on Mamma’s cheeks, Isabella seemed ready to settle in for a chat. Well darlings, you know that Mamma loves juicy gossip and, despite pains in her bunions, she knew Isabella to be one of the more, shall we say, productive town gossips. So there was nothing for it but to find out what was troubling her. Poor Isabella, she was in a tizzy! And here’s why…


Apparently Mamma’s young boy Giuseppe Sbranti has been causing all sorts of problems for our small hamlet. Nothing new there, Mamma said, trying to console poor distraught Isabella. But the dear child took no solace in Mamma’s words as she was determined to make certain that Mamma understood the root of her great consternation: traffic.


As Mamma marveled at the quaint Farmers’ Market, Isabella filled her head with nightmare visions of aggressive housing development, something called eBART (whatever that might be…), shops and office buildings. But most of all… terrible, terrible traffic. According to Isabella, this is already causing problems and her boy Giuseppe is doing nothing to improve it. And Railroad Avenue, said Isabella defiantly, is one of the worst parts of town! Even getting down the Avenue now takes the patience of a Sicilian saint…plus three or four times longer than it did just a handful of years ago. Mamma crossed herself thoughtfully, hoping she’d not have to make that journey too often. In fact, continued Isabella, it is usually so bad that she goes out of her way (literally) to avoid Railroad Avenue, weaving an uncertain path through other streets to cross town.


Mamma sat down for a moment in the shade of a large umbrella, sneakily liberating a ripe peach from the adjacent farm stand and biting thoughtfully into its juicy flesh. This sounded altogether unbelievable and Mamma realized she’d have to do some of her own digging for more information. But, as if the saints above had heard her, Isabella’s husband Francis arrived on the scene, growling that everyone at City Hall should be fired and forced to drive Railroad Avenue all day as punishment, before storming off to buy a large bag of kettle corn. Mamma looked ruefully at her half-eaten peach and headed after him in the hope of scoring some of his corn for herself.


Like any Sicilian grandma, Mamma hates to see her children unhappy, so she just had to look into the matter herself. Although still car-free she ventured down Railroad Avenue on foot to experience for herself what all the traffic fuss was about.


And experience it she did! At midday, Mamma fully expected the traffic to be light and uneventful. But to her dismay she found herself surrounded by cars, pedestrians, scary folks pushing shopping carts (that’s theft, my darlings, plain and simple!), trucks, buses, and lost dogs mired in a type of gridlock that Mamma has only ever seen at the 2012 protest “Operazione Vespri Siciliani” (but we won’t go into that right now.) Mamma immediately began to worry about what will happen when more construction of high-density housing and office buildings begins in the area. And she also worried about those poor dogs getting squashed on the road…


As Mamma feared, her boy Giuseppe Sbranti and the other kids running her fair Pittsburg are ignoring Mamma’s loving instructions: 1) Do only good, 2) Fix Pittsburg’s image, 3) Keep your nose clean.


In every possible way, the traffic on Railroad Avenue is the worst it has been in the half-century that Mamma has called Pittsburg home. And Mamma sees all too well that those she left in charge before heading back to Sicily are sucking the joy out of living in Pittsburg for anyone who calls this beloved little city their home.


Mamma is very fond of her Pittsburg children and would never wish unhappiness upon them. But it’s also true that she’s ashamed of what they’re doing to this City. Mamma will be having a stern conversation with her boy Giuseppe Sbranti in particular and will insist that he pulls himself up by his bootstraps. The children-in-charge need to get back on track and focus on the quality of life and happiness that all her children work so hard for and deserve. Mamma is determined to give those in charge a public tongue lashing if they don’t put a stop to the poor planning and string of mistakes that is taking the joy out of living in Pittsburg.


Santo Cristo! In this heat Mamma has worked herself up into quite a bother just thinking of what it will be like to live here in the next ten years! For her own good, Mamma’s going to retire to her room to cool down and take a digestive.


Ciao for now, my darlings. Mamma will be back with more very soon. Now where did Mamma hide the rest of that kettle corn…?

~ Mamma