Things You Take for Granted When You Live in a Major City

My town had its annual food truck festival on Monday night. In case you don’t know, this is when a bunch of food trucks show up at a designated spot at a designated time. Nearby suburbanites flock to the festival to eat street food from these mobile kitchens. We eat sitting on the curb, clustered on benches, or while roaming Main Street.

The oddness of this festival occurred to me as I raced home from work that night. My town is only about 10 miles from Philadelphia and almost all of us here have ties to it. I grew up there. I still work there. In fact, I pass by food trucks every day. My work is surrounded by them. So what was this festival’s allure?

I’m not a people person and I don’t have a particular fondness for food trucks. Maybe I couldn’t resist a marrying of my hometown and my new town. It turned out to be an odd union, but that’s okay. Philadelphia has a very different personality than its surrounding suburbs. I’m not sorry that I moved, but there are things that I miss about living in the city.

MapNot having to explain where your hometown is located. I went from living in the birthplace of America to living in a town whose biggest attraction is a custard stand that is open year-round.

Being able to go incognito. This is impossible in a small town. All you wanted to do was run into the market for some waffles and paper towels. The next thing you know, you’re stuck on aisle six peopling with your kid’s old coach’s neighbor’s sister.

The ability to tune out sirens and other city noises. Put millions of people in a small area and there will be a decent amount of emergencies. The constant sirens mean that you don’t feel compelled to run outside to see what is going on every time you hear one. Which is rare because they usually don’t even register. When they do, you listen long enough to make sure that they pass your block.

Having your own newspapers, news stations, and radio stations. This way you don’t have to rely on your kid’s old coach’s neighbor’s sister. Talk about fake news.

SeptaNot needing a car. Riding SEPTA may have scarred me for life, but it always got me where I wanted to go. Well, usually. Eventually. It would at least be close.

Not dedicating much time to yard work… I could have cut my lawn with scissors in less time than it took to drag out the mower.

…or snow removal. To be fair, this benefit is negated by having to wage war over shoveled parking spots.

Living somewhere with a personality. Custard stand? Pfft. Philly has cheesesteaks, mummers, the Liberty Bell, insane sports fans, Rocky, the Italian Market, the Reading Terminal Market, Tastykake, buttercake, Broad Street, no one likes us and we – don’t –  care.


My son will be heading to high school next year. Since the list of possibilities includes one school that is in Philadelphia, weighing the merits of the city versus the suburbs has been an  on-again-off-again obsession of mine since he entered his middle school years. Let me know what you think in the comments below.