Q: What’s worse than living in Detroit?
A: Looking for jobs in other cities and finding out the only city that needs your particular skill set is Oakland.
A: Okay, that’s not true. What’s actually worse is when that particular skill set doesn’t get you enough of a paycheck to live in the nice part of Oakland, i.e. anywhere outside of Oakland city limits that isn’t strangled by the 880 traffic to the point you want to start shooting at other cars on your way to work, even though you’re one of the few people in this place who actually has a job to drive to.
I don’t want to just sit here and bash my adopted hometown. I mean, there are things I like about it. The junkies on the BART. The crackheads on Broadway shivering their way across the street to ask me for money. MC Hammer was an Oakland guy.
Oh wait, did I say like? I meant hate.
But I’m not just here to rip on Oakland. But the thing that kills me is that as much as it sucks, and as much as it rivals Hometown D-Town for title of The Worst City In America, their stupid teams keep showing up my Motor City’s teams.
Every year, it seemed like the A’s would shank the Tigers on-field the way the fatsos in skull masks would shank guys in the parking lot outside of Raiders games. Last fall the Lions came out to play the Raiders for the first time in years, and I went. My Lions, the team I so stupidly like even though they’re easily the worst franchise in the history of all sports going back to the days of whatever franchise’s gladiators getting eaten alive by actual lions in the Roman Coliseum, made the trip and I got to see them pull off a great comeback thanks to “Miracle” Jon Kitna.
Did I cheer? Did I even wear a Lions jersey? What, do you think I’m stupid? They’d kill me, then eat my bones and use my sweet Barry Sanders jersey as a napkin. Actually, no they wouldn’t. People in Oakland don’t believe in napkins.
Okay, I know the Tigers suck this year too but the thing is FOR ONCE THEY WEREN’T SUPPOSED TO!!! A thousand runs, those tools said. The World Series is the Tigers’ to lose, I remember reading. And look what happened. The steroids ran out, the fat guys got too fat, the pitchers forgot how to pitch, and now instead of people talking about how the Tigers’ winning is giving people in Detroit something to cheer about even though the mayor is going to jail and the jobs are all disappearing, now they just keep it simple and say everything about Detroit is as awful as awful can be.
Yeah, yeah, I know it’s just sports but no matter where you live in America you’re always supposed to be able to point at someone else and say “Well, at least we’re not _____.” Baltimore has its Camden. Camden has its Gary. Gary has its Youngstown. And even Youngstown has better ice cream than New York City (Handel’s!), so the nation makes one big, full, socially unjust circle of shame. Now that I’ve lived in Oakland for a while, I see this is a myth.
Oakland is a horrible, horrible place full of crime and poverty. I don’t know the statistics, but I’m pretty sure every company is failing, every person is addicted to something at least as strong as cocaine, every school is Troubled or Dying or whatever the government calls it these days when the kids can’t read, and everyone is ugly. The A’s are a joke – winning the AL West doesn’t count – the Raiders are a circus freak show. Hockey is just something that starts with the same letter as heroin and basketball in Oakland is what you play in between selling drugs to little kids on the playground.
But you know what they can say about all that? Do you know what five words can silence even ME in all my hatred of this godforsaken American hellhole?
“At least we’re not Detroit.”
Good God do I need to move. Is anyone in Chicago hiring?
Chris T. (not his or her real name) lives in Oakland and thinks it’s only slightly less dangerous and terrifying than Detroit. She or he hopes his or her boss doesn’t read this and put two and two together, even though she or he is also pretty sure no Oaklander could add numbers that large.