I can’t make this stuff up, and I’m pretty good at making up stuff. This all just happened. Just a day in Jersey.
I woke up at 5:30 which is a little early for me, but not outrageously so. The asshole in room 217 at the Fairfield Inn in Avenel, NJ decided he needed a shower at 5:30 this morning. This woke me, because some time ago the architect that built the Fairfield Inn in Avenel, NJ decided that he didn’t need thick, sound proof walls. Both of these decisions were made without much consideration for me or anyone else that may be staying in this $150.00 a night hotel. Such is life. You can’t let it bug you, because you have no control over these circumstances. This patience and wisdom are what I like about being 50.
Even with the early wake up, something told me that today was going to be a great day. There was a pretty blue sky that was a dance floor for a few cotton white clouds that swayed in a warm breeze. The sun was smiling. I felt the need for a good breakfast, so I went to Google to look for a diner close by. As it turns out, there is a diner from Guy Fieri’s Diners, Drive-ins and Dives show just a mile or so away from where I’m staying. Giddy – up!
I walk out the lobby door, across the parking lot to my car; feeling a little chill as I step through the morning shadow cast by the dome from Rahway prison. Whenever I look at a prison, no matter where it is, I shudder. When I look at a prison I never think about the rehabilitation that’s going on inside, I just think about unwanted anal sex that goes on in there – with murderers, lawyers, rapists, financial advisors, and the occasional politician. I can’t help it – that’s what I think of, and it scares the shit out of me. I never want to go to prison.
I need to get these dreadful thoughts out of my head, and as luck would have it…
…I reach my car and notice on the side of the building where I’m parked, there is a large tour bus loading a group of absolutely beautiful young women (I could make this part up, but I’m not). Turns out it’s a volleyball team from some former Soviet Union country with a name that I can’t pronounce, and won’t even pretend to try to spell. It has a lot of Ks in it.
The women (young ladies) are tall, mostly blonde, very smiley – even at 6:00 in the morning. Almost all of them wave or nod at me as they walk by. It’s like I’m a judge at a beauty contest. What a nice change in my thought direction. Now I’m just thinking about regular sex.
I watch the girls safely board, and listen to the big diesel engine roar as it belches out a little black smoke taking the group to their next competition. Somehow this whole scene reminds me why I love America, I hope they do too. In fact, I hope they stay.
So I pull into the lot of the surprisingly small Bay Way Diner in Linden, grab a seat at the counter as I’m greeted with a smile from a pretty Latino woman. She hands me a menu and a glass of ice water, then screams at the top of her lungs, “KAISHA! YOU HAVE A CUSTOMER!” Kaisha comes out of the restroom, and they start arguing with each other in Spanish – it seems very heated, but I also think it might be the nature of the language and the dialect. They abruptly stop; Kaisha looks at me and smiles, and asks for my order. I tell her what I want, and they continue their argument. Now, the one whose name I do not know, pulls out a bunch of very large knives…just as I’m deciding to leave and settle for a bagel at Dunkin Donuts, the owner walks in and starts yelling at both of them in a mixture of English and Spanish…he said the “f” word quite a few times. He ends the tirade with two very loud and hard “point making” slaps on the countertop with his massive diner owner hands. Then, all three start laughing hysterically, and he puts away the knives. I felt like I was in a David Lynch film. But no, no film at all… I was just in Jersey.
The breakfast was great.
Back to the room, shower and shave, check a few emails, and head out for a few morning sales calls. As I got on the highway, I cut off a fellow motorist in one of those only in Jersey jug handle turning places. I can’t explain the jug handle. It’s like a roundabout, or rotary intersection, except not really. If you’ve been here you know what I’m talking about, if you haven’t…well, just don’t come. So, because I cut this guy off, he yelled an obscenity at me that rhymes with duck glue, and gave me the finger. I’m still feeling good, so I engage him with a return finger. He pulled up beside me and showed me a gun that he just happened to have riding along with him. He is less than 1 mile from Rahway Prison, and he waves a gun at me. He must think differently about prison than I do.
At this point, I decide that he is taking this incident more seriously than I am, and his “finger” is bigger than mine. I continued through the jug handle, and lost him. Only a little bit of pee came out of me, so overall I would call this my third successful interaction with the citizens of New Jersey today. And here it is only 8:00! I guess, technically, the volleyball team members were not from Jersey, but you get the point.
Over the mid-day meal, I separated two good customers twice from heated arguments over who was going to buy what from whom, and where they would sell these things after they bought them. They talked about each other’s mothers in extremely disrespectful terms. They debated loudly, and rudely. They never settled the argument, and we all agreed that the issues on the table needed further study before we could come to an agreement. After all this yelling, and screaming, and spitting hate filled words at each other, we shared an appetizer, had some sandwiches, and talked about the Giants. I had to leave, but they decided to stay and have a few beers with each other. I looked at them incredulously, and they returned my look with a sort of puzzled wonder…as if there might be something wrong with me.
Around 3:30, I hopped on the southbound lanes of the Jersey Turnpike, and headed for good ol PA. While I drove, I started thinking that there is an aggressive nature in the folks in this land called “Jersey” that I struggle with, and don’t really understand. In fact, I mentioned this to my lunch buddies and they told me that they “don’t really give a fuck” what I struggle with or understand. So there’s that.
So as I drive south in the slow, heavy traffic, I contemplate the day and take inventory of its events. It’s sort of exciting because I know it’s a Large Man Chronicle that will basically just write itself; all I have to do is come up with the first sentence. The smile on my face is taking over my whole body…what a great day. Full of conflict, aggression, and ill tempers for sure; but it was still great. Everything turned out OK. And at that very moment, as if to put an exclamation point on my thoughts, I see the reason for all the slow traffic. The State Police have a group of young men pulled over; some are in handcuffs, a few others have yet to be wrangled. There are batons waving, and fists flying, obscenities being exchanged, but nobody is running – they’re just fighting. I don’t know what the reason for this conflict was, and I doubt that these perps and cops will go out after processing and arraignment to have a few beers together, but after what I’ve seen today it wouldn’t surprise me. This Jersey place is strange. I can’t wait to come back.
Until next time,
The Large Man