Im back from my big summer vacation. Well, big probably isnt the right word choice. Brief but sincere is more like it. We left on Thursday and were home by Monday morning.
Im not complaining. Any vacation is a good vacation. And four days are surely better than none.
Four hours of that time were spent late Sunday traveling 100 miles on the New Jersey Turnpike. For those who havent had the pleasure, The New Jersey Turnpike runs the length of the Garden State and is at minimum six lanes wide and in some places, swells to 12 with six lanes running in each direction.
The posted speed limit is 65 mph. Sunday night, for whatever reason, traffic was moving much slower. Moving is probably too generous of a term. It was oozing, crawling, creeping, bunching, inching, moving at a snails pace, choose your own descriptors here.
I kept expecting to come upon an accident or at least some construction that would explain the slow going.
There was none.
Its just the pace of life on the New Jersey Turnpike on a Sunday evening in the summer.
For all I know, that may well be the pace of life on the turnpike on any Sunday evening.
And it begs the question, why would people choose to live like this? And yet statistics suggest that New Jersey, in the corridor that spans south from New York City down past Philadelphia just to the west and on into Delaware is one of the most densely populated areas in the country, perhaps in the world.
So apparently a big bunch of people do choose to live there, which explains, I suppose, why I found myself playing turtle on the turnpike for four hours last Sunday evening.
Every summer we experience the exodus of people from that part of the world racing north like a wave, turning our world into a bit of New Jersey, making our roads thick with traffic and our conversations thick with accents foreign to our ears.
Im not proud to say it but must confess that at times, Ive cursed their presence.
Ive cursed them as theyve cut me off in traffic, their pale yellow license plates disappearing in a cloud of dust kicked up by their squealing tires.
Ive cursed them as theyve cut in front of me at the checkout line at the store or the service line at the restaurant.
Ive interpreted these behaviors as rudeness and wondered what Id done to merit such treatment.
I was wrong, my friends. I was wrong.
After crawling on the turnpike for four hours, Ive come to realize these behaviors have nothing to do with rudeness. Like lions on the Serengeti who pounce on the unsuspecting antelope, killing the innocent to survive, our foreign friends are just trying to get by in the only way they know.
So next time I get cut off in traffic or run over in the grocery store, Im going to try not to take it personally. Dodging hungry lions for a few months each summer is a small price to pay to be able to grow old in paradise.