Opinion: Toledo: A place that kind of sucksWritten by Donald O'Connor | | firstname.lastname@example.org
It’s good to have a healthy bit of cynicism, a few worries about the future and a few calouses on your hands. People in Toledo, and the Midwest in general, have more than most. The collective thought of “things aren’t that great” and “this place isn’t that great” is not a bad thing. It’s a real thing. I’m not saying people aren’t happy here, they’re just more even-keeled. More realistic, if you will.
I have lived in Toledo for more than 12 years now, with my first 18 being spent in Dayton. I feel a strange sort of pride when I think about Toledo, and not because the mayor told me I should. I feel like I’m part of it. There’s a humble sort of honesty to the people here. They know times have been better. They know they’re going to have to shovel snow for three months. Or six months. They know nothing is going to slow the wind. They know they can cross streets Downtown without looking both ways. But they know who their neighbors are. They know who their friends are and where their family is. They know that their job and house and sense of comfort are not to be taken for granted. They know they have something to be thankful for.
In other places you might find people with a sense of entitlement, people who want everything all the time, and feel they deserve it. They view their surroundings that “this is how it’s always been and this is how it’s always going to be.” They may feel that people from a “cold and dreary” place like Ohio just don’t get it. “Why would you want to live there?” The truth is, people that feel entitled don’t get it. They lack appreciation and perspective. People who have not lived through losing a job or cursing through a long winter don’t fully appreciate the steady paycheck or the summer sunburn. If you’ve never had to shovel 10 inches of wet snow, you don’t truly know how amazing dry socks, a Kleenex and a 65-degree house are. People in Ohio appreciate life, at it’s easiest and at it’s hardest. They understand that it’s not perfect and will not be.
I’ve noticed that people who’ve always lived in Toledo ask others why they’ve come here. They imagine it must be better somewhere else. It’s warmer somewhere else. It’s more scenic somewhere else. There’s less crime somewhere else. There’s a better economy somewhere else. But it’s not better somewhere else. There are not better people somewhere else. Would you really want to live in a community where everyone who lives there says it’s the best place ever? Those people would be insufferable and most likely delusional.
I know it sounds strange, but I feel pride knowing that I live in a place that kind of sucks. I’m glad I didn’t grow up in Beverly Hills, go to Harvard and become a wine critic for The New Yorker. What would that mean? That I grew up sheltered and comfortable and there’s a pretty good chance I’m an ***hole. It wouldn’t be that person’s fault, though. It’s just that they don’t know any different. See, that person doesn’t walk to lunch past homeless people, or see the proud dad hoping for overtime at work so his wife can stay home and maybe the kids can go to a better school. Here you see the struggle. A real and sometimes desperate struggle. A struggle that ultimately makes for a more fulfilling life for yourself and for the people that you come in contact with.
I’ll tell you one more thing. There is no more spectacular 70-degree blue-skied Fall day than a 70-degree blue-skied Fall day in Toledo. Just make sure you enjoy the three that we have every year. Go out in the grass, lie on your back and soak it in. You’ll smile and appreciate it more than anyone else lying under that blue sky.