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Just Write: Personal connections fit western Pennsylvania to a T

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Thursday, March 7, 2013, 7:48 p.m.

It never ceases to amaze me just how small and connected Pittsburgh and its suburbs can seem.

Last month while heading to Mt. Lebanon to meet two friends for lunch, I was sitting on the T at Port Authority's Allegheny Station when a woman said, “Happy birthday, Bobby!”

Slightly startled as I had been deeply focused on my iPhone, I looked up to see a Sewickley Valley resident sitting across the aisle.

She knew it was my birthday after reading that day's Herald, where I wrote a column about turning 30.

We talked until she exited the trolley several stops later.

Along the Red Line and walking through Mt. Lebanon's business district, I found a few other people I randomly knew through work connections, volunteering or in a personal capacity.

Maybe the best “six-degrees-of-a-Pittsburgher” story I can tell involves a trip to Ross Park Mall a few months back with a friend who lives near Dallas but grew up mostly in Fox Chapel.

While sitting in the mall food court days after Christmas, he ran into a high school classmate and her boyfriend. I knew his high school friend from working here in Sewickley, and she and I also have mutual friends.

I've been in airports and faraway cities where I've randomly run into folks from back home.

Sometimes, the folks I've seen are people I haven't connected with in a very long time, so it makes for one amazing or awkward conversation.

I can't say if other cities share personal connections the way Pittsburghers do.

But even here, we don't always appreciate being part of a big small town.

Sometimes we're so focused on our piece of the greater Pittsburgh area that we don't always connect the dots elsewhere, but so much of our lives are intertwined between the city, its neighborhoods and the suburbs like those here in the Sewickley Valley.

Bobby Cherry is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-324-1408 or

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