The gatekeepers to New Jersey.
Besides driving through it to get somewhere else, I’ve never actually gone to New Jersey…for New Jersey. Oh, well, except the one time I went to a friend’s place in Weehawken, which was confusing. This was before I had an iPhone, and a bus dropped me off by a desolate freeway onramp. With empty roads curving everywhere, this was the first time I truly appreciated a street grid.
But this time, I headed to Secaucus to eat dinner with my sister, who was there for a job assignment. It’s bizarre how difficult it is to get to New Jersey, considering it’s so close. It’s such an archaic thing: there’s a river in the way. In the information age, when everything is seamlessly connected by the push of a button, it’s a marvel that something like a body of water makes life difficult. All I want to do is go west on 14th street, and keep going. Instead, I hit this fucking river. So then I have to get on the PATH train, then switch to NJ Transit. This takes, like, twenty minutes. If I was Jesus, I could have walked across the Hudson faster.
Part of the problem is that these different transit systems are very similar to the MTA yet have fun little disorienting tweaks. You don’t swipe your ticket on PATH, you suck it into this machine. And there are no platforms divided by destination, just tracks. Track 5. Track 3. But no one tells you what train is on what track. So you pick one and see what happens. It’s like a really horrible form of gambling. Get on the wrong train and you’ll be at Olive Garden. The whole thing is sort of like going to a different country, for dinner.
Which I did, by a mall. With a Sears. I had to take a cab from the train station to Bonefish Grill, because I thought I could walk it, but I would’ve had to walk along the turnpike, which probably has scores of privileged suburban teenagers on bath salts eating each others’ faces off. So I did the safer and quicker option, which was take a taxi. Unfortunately, I paid for the privilege by being forced to watch Harold and Kumar trailers the whole time on my driver’s cell phone. He also happened to be named Kumar.
I was never happier to be at a strip mall, drinking.