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CP Illustration: Lucy Chen
As winter snow showers descend on the Steel City, many folks find themselves getting advice from wise elders who embrace the region, those who speak from experience with how things work here, and take it upon themselves to spread that good insight to the people they care about: Pittsburgh dads.
I don’t yet have a full definition of what a Pittsburgh dad is, but I know what a Pittsburgh dad does, and offering unsolicited and surprisingly useful advice about existing in the material world is one of their habitual behaviors.
They’re so popular in Pittsburgh that there’s a web series and franchise (pghdad.com) based around the concept.
I once worked with a Pittsburgh dad who would check the stickers on his colleagues’ cars so he could quietly remind them when it was time to get their car inspected. He was definitely one of my Pittsburgh dads, which I believe can be any gender. Others have accompanied me on trips to unfamiliar places, shouted to alert me when I accidentally turned the wrong way on a one way street, and helped me find the right therapist. They have been friends, relatives, and strangers.
My (biological) Pittsburgh dad is also appropriately full of practical knowledge about how to live in Pittsburgh, even though he’s originally from Milwaukee. For example, I’m pretty sure he can get anywhere in the region while encountering the fewest possible traffic lights.
Just this week, my Pittsburgh dad stopped by my house to drop off a 50 lb. bag of rock salt to store in the trunk of my car in case I get stuck somewhere snowy. He says the salt can help create traction should I get stuck somewhere slippery, and, for rear-wheel and some all-wheel drive cars, the extra weight over the back wheels can help stabilize the car and prevent sliding. Pittsburgh City Paper
has also received reports of Pittsburgh dads in the South Hills and Uniontown using bags of sand and non-clumping cat litter for the same purpose.
Here are some more savvy winterization tips from a few of the many-gendered Pittsburgh dads among us:
“During the first snow of each year, my dad would take me to an empty parking lot and make me practice driving and sliding so I knew safe recoveries,” says Lauren of Shadyside. Others online agree, suggesting the use of industrial parks or the parking lots of big venues after hours.
Jenna, a nonbinary dog dad formerly of Bloomfield, recommends spraying your icy windshield (or really anything icy, I guess) with a combination of isopropyl alcohol and water to speed the thawing process, since rubbing alcohol lowers water’s melting point.
“Plastic wrap your windows, put towels under your doors, and don’t leave the house,” offers Grant, a cat dad in East Liberty.
And, of course, don’t forget to get your parking chair ready for when you finish shoveling out your spot, say Candy and her Pittsburgh dad from Panther Hollow, South Oakland.