Ugh: A Meditation on the Dirty Jerz

By dougtone, from Flickr Creative Commons

Last week I went to New Jersey for a meeting in my company’s main office. I don’t like meetings so I wasn’t really looking forward to it, although it did allow me to wear actual business casual attire instead of jeans and a halfway decent shirt… so that was exciting.

It’s been awhile since I drove in NJ, and even longer since I drove in NJ on anything other than a highway. Other than juicehead gorillas cutting me off in traffic with reckless abandon, the drive to my hotel wasn’t so bad. Before I left Connecticut — where it was nearly 60 degrees and sunny — I downloaded a few Radiolab and Slate’s Audio Book Club podcasts to keep me company.

I landed at my Courtyard Marriott in Mount Laurel — where is was 10 degrees colder and rainy — and immediately went on the hunt for dinner. My trusty iPhone located a safe option nearby in the form of Bertucci’s. I gave the restaurant a call, and ordered food to go — because the last place I want to dine alone (and therefore get hit on) is a New Jersey Bertucci’s — and headed out a few minutes later. What should have been a few blocks drive turned into an epic journey.

I missed my right hand turn and because everything is a divided highway in New Jersey with (surprise surprise) Jersey barriers, left hand turns are pretty much outlawed. Every time I thought I was coming to a light where I could turn left and start heading back the other way, I was confront with a “NO TURNS” sign.  This went on over and over again until I was on some random highway and what should have been a 5 minute trip had taken 30 minutes.When I finally got back near the Bertucci’s I, of course, couldn’t turn left onto the street so I had to drive by it. The lovely young man behind the take-out desk said, “We thought you forgot about us” when I walked in. I explained that it was just that I missed my turn and his state didn’t trust its drivers to turn left so I had to drive 10 miles out of my way.

But as I was driving home the next day and I stopped on the turnpike to get gas, and had to hand some strange man my debit card and let him pump my gas, I caught on to the not so great state of New Jersey. Not only do they charge you a fortune in tolls, but they make the roads so confusing that you regularly have to drive out of your way and use more gas — which makes up for the state’s low gas prices.It’s either that, or the state tries to trap as many WASPs as possible to try and class up the joint a bit.

I can tell you one thing: if Fairfield County’s slow transformation into New Jersey includes a complete clusterf**kafication of the roads, I’m getting the hell out of here.





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