Archive for September, 2013

My brother has gone on record writing about what it means to live in Cleveland, and I have no intention of repeating that exercise here.  Instead, read about it yourself.

It appears that only native Clevelanders are privy to the whole “East-side, West-side” thing that may or may not be an actual thing, and not just a figment of our collective imagination.  To be honest, while I certainly have an opinion on the subject, I’m not certain whether or not there’s any truth to it.  I know little bits from my limited experience with this city–limited in the sense that, although I’ve lived here my entire life, I’m confident of the possibility that my existence here is not one representative of the general population.  Still, I’d like to poke around this topic for a little bit and present my case.

I’ll start by saying, it is ABSOLUTELY a thing.  Relatively speaking, of course, and only in my opinion.  Egocentrically speaking, it is fact.  I am a west-sider.  I was born there, live there currently, and as of late, work there as well.  I’ve lived on the east side as well, and worked on the east-side, so again, egocentrically speaking, my opinion is relevant.  To the contrary, the president of the company I work for hates the whole idea, but he might be from Arizona, so on this topic his opinion isn’t relevant (his reason for hating it has nothing to do with his personal feelings about Clevelanders, instead, he’s more concerned about a company culture that saddles the Cuyahoga river, and as such, doesn’t want location X and location Y to think negatively about each other…admittedly, I get it).

Case 1: The Interstates

For those who aren’t locals–three interstates here kind of define this mentality: I-90, the road to (and from) Downtown; I-480, the speedway some miles to the south of I-90; and I-77, the interstate that connects the two near the center of the region, and in some senses divides the two locales.  On 90, the folks who drive from Downtown to the West drive completely differently than the folks who drive to the East.  On 480 it’s not as clear-cut–but the diversity of types of drivers seems a little bit more vast, giving you the occasional rear-end or swerve scare when you’re half asleep on the way to work.

Case 2: Professional Services

For nearly the last decade, I have been involved in some form of professional services as a profession in this region.  The first few years of that I didn’t really pay attention, but in early 2007 I took a position on the east-side of Cleveland at an accounting firm, and stayed there until my most recent move to the West as a result of a company merger.  In those six years I was out East, though, I met a LOT of new people who I’d otherwise not have the opportunity to interact with.  In recent months, my journey to the west-side of Cleveland has put me in touch with folks in a similar industry–but their personality, how they carry themselves, how they dress, and the cars they drive, are all vastly different.

Case 3: The Food

Cleveland is a wonderful city for dining out.  It may not be the best, and I may be a bit partial, but we have some really darn good restaurants on either side of the river (or I-77, for that matter).  But it’s different.  Now, I’m not talking chain restaurants–unless they are franchised, which might put them on the list, depending on a lot of different things.  But the little restaurants, the mom-and-pop places (especially the ethnic ones), are just fantastic.  And what a tremendous variety!  But still, east-side dining and west-side dining is very noticeably different, ask any foodie in the area.

Then there’s the outliers: the folks from Akron, who want to fit in and call themselves “south-siders,” even though that’s not a real thing.  And also, the folks from out-of-state, who just don’t get it.  But regardless, it’s a very real thing, even if it’s only in my own head (and everyone else’s).

Be well and stay tuned.