The ramblings of an Eternal Student of Life
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Tuesday, July 24, 2012
Personal Reflections ...

I’ve been working in Newark since late 1989 and for the most part, I commute by car (I take a train or bus every now and then). Most every day I find myself driving across a variety of urban neighborhoods. The suburban streets where I start and end my voyage each day are fairly sedate. Once in a while there’s a police car or some fire trucks to dodge, and the garbage trucks and school buses are always a nuisance. I’ve seen more than one idiot run a stop sign in front of me, in the nicest of towns; luckily I’ve always managed to stop in time. But on most days, the suburban portion of my drive is quite predictable.

But once I get into the Newark / East Orange zone, the situation gets a little more interesting. You have to be ready for things you wouldn’t expect living in the ‘burbs.

Over the years, I’ve seen cops on foot chasing a suspect running along the road; a guy arc-welding in the street (without shielding, threatening you with drive-by blindness if you look the wrong way); a pickup truck passenger throwing large stones at other cars (luckily he was a block or so in front of me); a pedestrian who walked into the side of my moving car (my luck held once again — I was going slow and he was stoned; I stopped to help him, but he got up and waved me away); various street fights; a train of 6 or 7 cop cars in a high-speed car chase along a narrow back-street (again, I must have a very good guardian angel; the whole procession crossed my route about 2 blocks ahead of me); and various stray dogs, screaming EMS trucks, oblivious pedestrians with negative attitudes about suburbanites using their streets, road-ragers taking umbrage if you respect yellow traffic lights, stop signs and the speed limit (really, the speed limit plus a third; anything less gets them honking, flashing lights and trying to pass and cut you off); and other interesting things.

My favorite road-rager of late is a cute, dark-skinned young woman with a huge SUV whose vanity plates read MS KIM; when I see Kimbo zooming up on my bumper near Roseville Avenue, I know its best to just pull over and let her go. Have a nice day, Ms. Kim.

Today, I had another new urban experience, right near the Newark-East Orange border on Springfield Avenue. I’m driving along, and suddenly I see birds in front of me. That’s not unusual, but something was different, these weren’t starlings and pigeons. My luck holds once again as no one is on my own tail (this would have been a bad time for an encounter with my sweet little Kim). So I approach these birds slowly, ready to stop . . . and low and behold, it’s a brood of chickens! There’s a black hen high-stepping along, with quite a group of little cluckers following her across the road. I slow way down as to let the last of the half-grown fryers and broilers of the future get to the proverbial “other side”.

Why did these chickens cross the road? I’ll leave that as an imponderable Zen koan for now. The Zen masters tell us to “be in the moment”, and if all moments in Newark were like this, well, it wouldn’t be so bad. I know that one day I’ll miss it.

◊   posted by Jim G @ 8:02 pm      

  1. Jim, Ah, the joys of driving to work, which is why I soon opted for the train. I also considered the massive cost of parking in Chicago in that decision not to drive to work–a big part of that decision.

    My sister, however, had a supervisor type job that required her to travel from the far north side suburbs of Chicago to the far south side suburbs to the west side suburbs. (Chicagoans do not speak of an “east side” of Chicago; if it’s “east”, it’s got to be south; so “south” it is.) She had surprisingly few accidents in her many travels; but one or two of them were doozies!

    Another thing about driving to work that creeps me out is that if one wants to get from some suburb (doesn’t matter where) to Chicago one is almost required to travel the expressways; and they creep me out. I feel trapped, as if in a cage, on an expressway for the reason that: How does one get off the expressways if all lanes have been shut down because of an accident and the nearest exit ramp is who knows how far ahead or behind one? One is trapped. Then too, there was the time that my sister and I left the same place at the same time going to the same destination. She took the expressway; I took the “side streets” (as they are called in Chicago). I arrived about a half a second before she did, which told me that expressways had little or not use really when it came to getting some place “faster” than by using side streets.

    I say, that driving to work will be one of the things that, whenever you do retire, you definitely will *not* miss. MCS

    Comment by Mary S. — July 25, 2012 @ 10:33 am

  2. Love this one! Chickens across the road! :-)

    Comment by spunkykitty — July 26, 2012 @ 12:17 am

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