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Saturday, December 27

driving New Jersey

OK, so we were happy to be going elsewhere for Christmas. It was way better than staying home and staring sadly at the corner of the couch where the dog always slept. The weather looked promising, which in these parts means no blizzard or ice storm predicted. We would get there early, spend quiet time at the Holiday Inn, and then the welcome distraction of family and food and presents. This would be a good thing.

Billy called and said I was to open our gift before we left. It was a GPS gizmo. How cool. So, we were ready to hit the road. We had gas, we had the GPS, we had a backup MapQuest printout. This would be a breeze. Then we got to New Jersey.

Most of New Jersey is very pretty, not the chemical spewing skyline or gritty urban landscape immortalized in the "Sopranos" opening credits. But this was not enough for whoever is in charge of New Jersey. No. What could they do to make the place even more memorable? Why they could invent jug handles!

Oh, what are jug handles you say? Pull up a chair. Let me tell you a story.

Once upon a time, long ago, a mall appeared. And then another. And the people came and it was good. The car dealers saw and they came. Hotels were built. How to feed these pilgrims? Let there be a Chili's and an Olive Garden. Add a movie theater, a supermarket, a drug store. The line of pilgrims grew. And stalled. They beeped and beeped. (Beeping your horn is the unofficial theme music for New Jersey) Get us to the promised lands, they demanded. Beep. Now!. Beep.

And so the jug handle was born. The pilgrims were not to make left turns. No. Left turns made the horns beep, bogged down their progress. Let them turn right! Yes! If you want to turn left, you turn right and swoop around (quickly or the horns beep) and soon you are going straight and voila! you have cut the line and you are free to turn willy nilly. What a concept. These little detours to freedom are called jug handles. As in "take the jug handle right after the 2nd light".

This works once you understand the concept. Before that, you keep driving further looking for that elusive left turn lane so you can get home. Eventually you end up in Pennsylvania or something and you ask a local what the hell is up with New Jersey.

We had not used the GPS at first because, after all, we were just going to the mall next to our hotel. Ha! Foolish pilgrim. Once we turned her on (the GPS voice is always a woman. Why is that?) she tried to tell us. "turn right! turn right! sigh. recalculating" I'm sorry, GPS Lady, we should have listened. On the way home, when we no longer needed left turns, we just needed to get out of New Jersey. she guided us past the lanes that would pull us out of the jug. "stay left! stay left! Phew!" and I swear she lit a cigarette when we were safely back in New York where left turns just had special lanes with arrows, if anything at all, and the roads had no handles to avoid.

1 comment:

Terry said...


I wrote a column a few months ago about our GPS we've named 'Gertie'. I published it on my blog, I think you'de get a kick out of it. Terry