Thursday, April 21, 2005

New Jersey Sucks Donkey Balls

Posted By on Thu, Apr 21, 2005 at 8:13 PM

I am in the middle of my second trip to New Jersey in as many months. It will (hopefully) be my last one for a long time. It sucks. I mean--it really sucks. People can talk all they want about the alleged superiority of "blue states," but here are just a few reasons why Tennessee is a hell of a better place to live than the Garden State:

1. In Tennessee, we are smart enough to pump our own gasoline. In New Jersey, they're not. Self-service is illegal. That's right. In New Jersey, a gas station attendant has to pump your gas for you. If you do it you get fined. I am not making this up. So you have to wait until someone comes out to pump gas for you instead of doing it yourself. I haven't found anyone yet who could give me the rationale for this law. The best I've heard is that it prevents people from pumping gas and driving off without paying. I'm not sure that that makes up for the inconvenience, and besides, in Tennessee we just arm store clerks who just shoot the crooks through ther back windshields. It works pretty well I think. 2. We have left turn lanes in Tennessee. Let's suppose you're traveling down a major thoroughfare in Northern New Jersey and you're feeling a little hungry. So you start looking around and up ahead you see a (fill in the blank) restaurant. Mmmmm, that'll hit the spot.

Problem: It's on the left. Well, buddy, you're screwed. Because if you are going down, say, Route 22 or Route 1, you won't be able to turn left to get to it. Why? Well, because there's a concrete barrier down the middle of the road where (in more civilized places) one should find a handy-dandy left turn lane. What you have to do is go to the next major intersection (which could be anywhere from half a mile to three miles up ahead) and veer off to the right to make a "jug handle" turn, which takes you back perpendicularly across the road you were just on (after stopping at one or possibly two lights) and then turns you around so that you can go back to the place you just were. By this time, you've forgotten why you turning in the first place, but you are sure that it's not going to be worth it. You have to do the same thing, incidentally, if just want to make a basic left turn onto a crossing road.

3. We don't have ornery toll road toll takers in Tennessee. We also don't have toll roads, but you know what? If we did, our toll takers would at least have a little decency about them. They wouldn't do what this one guy did to me yesterday at a booth that charged 75 cents. I pull up to the window and hold out a dollar bill to the guy, whom I'll call Joe, and who's got about a foot up on me from his perch. He sticks out his hand and I put the dollar in his. He just stares at me--his hand out and mine in it for what seem like hours. Finally, Joe rolls his eyes and says "I'm giving you a quarter dumbass." (OK, the "dumbass" I added, but it was definitely implied.) He follows this with a shake of the head and a barely audible grunt.

Turns out Joe's got him a little system. He's at a 75 cent tollbooth, right? Well, most people give him dollar bills instead of three quarters, so what he does is hold out his hand for the dollar with a quarter already in it. Probably unbeknownst to his peers, Joe is master of toll booth efficiency. Honestly, if the Soviets had Joe on their side back in the '80s, they'd still be around today.

It's fine for Joe, and I suppose it's fine for the 95% of drivers who go through his booth and know his super double secret method of toll collecting. In what I am sure is one smooth motion , they drop the dollar in his hand, take away their quarter, and drive off. For people like me though, who know this procedure and who--because we are in cars and he is up in a booth--can't see his hand, it doesn't work out to well. We need a little extra information like "here's your change" or "here's a quarter back". Also, acknowledging receipt of the dollar bill rather than just staring into space would be a good start.

4. In Tennessee we are smart enough to know that gas leaks are a higher priority than garbage bags. I have been New Jersey to close out an estate of a family member who died leaving a house, As the only living heirs, it has been up to us to fix up the house, clean it and prepare it for sale. The house was in pretty bad condition, so it's been a chore. For a few days last month we did just that, filling up garbage bag after garbage bag and putting them out on the driveway for pickup. We ended up with, I guess, over 50 Hefty bags filled with trash and unwanted junk and putting them out there ready for the trash folks. When we were done, we left the keys to the house in the hands of a neighbor who would be there in our stead the next day when the safety inspector would arrive.

Yup, the city inspector. In New Jersey, you see, there's a government agency for everything. Really, you could be on a street corner furtively scratching yourself and someone from the local township's Commission on Furtive Personal Scratching would roll up to give you a citation. Or, he might give you a pamphlet on Better Ways to Hygiene, published by the Health and Wellness Department of Union County.

This particular city inspector was charged with checking out whether everything was up to code before we could sell the house. As the inspector walked around, he smelled gas. And, indeed, there turned out to be a pretty bad gas leak. The neighbor dutifully turned off the gas so no one would blow up. Moments later, the inspector said that he couldn't issue a passage certificate for the house.

"Because of the gas leak I guess, right?" asked the neighbor.

"The gas leak? No, not the gas leak. I can't issue a certificate with all of those garbage bags out there. You'll have to clean them up. When you do, I'll give you the passage," answered Mr. Inspector.

"So the gas leak doesn't matter?"

"Nope. Just clean up the garbage bags."

Mind you, this was the safety inspector.

5. Our governor wasn't forced to resign from office after giving his lover a plum state Homeland Security job for which he (the lover) was wholly unqualified.

I'm not sure what I could even add to this one, so I won't add anything at all.

Oh, by the way, New Jersey has a state income tax. That must be why everything is so wonderful. Of course, I'm sure that the Newark city school system is a real gem.

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