Saturday, March 26, 2005

When your region runs out of water, don't come crying to us!

Alan of BuffaloPundit fame links this Buffalo News article in which several former residents of the Buffalo region sadly shake their heads about how bad things have become in their old stompin' grounds. In general I don't blame older people who simply get tired of cold weather and move to warmer climes, I do find a bit of annoyance in a person who is all of sixty years old saying, "There's so much that could be done. If I wasn't so old...." Sixty ain't old, folks -- unless maybe you've been a four-pack-a-day smoker since you were twelve.

Generally, though, Alan has little patience for such stuff:

Come back and help, or leave. But don't lecture us from the palm trees and warmer strip malls.

I whole-heartedly agree. I'm willing, as I note above, to give elderly persons a pass on wanting to move to someplace warmer, but I get really annoyed when people right around my age -- or even younger -- say things like "I'm just waiting until I can afford to move to [insert locale south of Maryland here]", whether it's because of the economy or the snow or the wind or that Southern teams win Super Bowls or whatever.

And the last person quote in the News article just makes me want to throw up:

In sharp contrast to those who no longer live here but still believe their heart resides in Buffalo, there are other Western New Yorkers who live in the county but now can't wait to cut ties.

Kevin O'Brien, 25, grew up in Blasdell, got his bachelor's degree in Buffalo, married and bought a house in Cheektowaga a year ago.

There's a "For Sale" sign on it now.

Though both he and his wife are college educated and had planned to raise their children here, they said the county's botched budget was the last straw. As soon as their house is sold, they're moving to Arizona.

O'Brien, who has a communications degree in broadcast, said he was set to work for the Empire Sports Network before it went under. And his wife, a Social Services worker for the county, has been threatened with layoffs three times since November.

Trying to build a life in Western New York has simply gotten too difficult and too embarrassing for them, O'Brien said.

He and his wife hope to be gone by June. And unlike other expatriates from this region, O'Brien said he's never looking back.

"Sometimes you have to cut the rope," he said. "We're done."

I have a strong feeling that this guy was never long for this area anyway -- he'd have been looking for that better offer forever, and as soon as ESPN or whomever came knocking on his door, this guy was going to leave anyway. Quite frankly, people like that aren't of much help while they are here, and I'm not really all that worried about losing them. There are signs that things might start to turn around a bit here, and there's a lot of impetus shaping up; the constant sense of "Geez, what now!" is giving way to a setting of the jaw, a rolling up of the sleeves, and -- it's hard to see, by God, but it's there -- some good old-fashioned optimism. People like Mr. O'Brien, even they stay here, simply aren't a part of that. What Buffalo needs is people who want to be in Buffalo, to work in Buffalo, to invest in Buffalo, and to tell the world what's great about Buffalo. People who are just going to gravitate toward the biggest possible paycheck can be found anywhere. People like that are a dime a dozen.

So have fun in Arizona and Florida and Texas and Georgia and wherever else. When the economy in your chosen Land of Sun, Milk and Honey starts to turn sour -- and you'd better believe it will, because it always does, sooner or later -- make sure that when you look back up here at envy because things are going well again, you're at least honest enough to realize that you could have been a part of it.

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