When I met my wife, she had The Bloodhound Gang’s CD. It listed a track as something like “10 Things That Don’t Suck About New Jersey”. I’m not sure about the exact wording, but when you sequence the CD to the track, it’s about 10 seconds of silence.
I can be very hard on New Jersey in my talking and writing. I got out of the Navy in 1998 in San Diego and started working as an alarm installer, which was the first job I managed to get after 2 weeks of not having an income. It was fun while it lasted, and I appreciate the time I had on that job and the men I worked with. In 1999, I got a job offer to move to New Jersey to work at a development site. This job was to be more inline with my training and experience from my time in the Navy.
I knew nothing about New Jersey. All I knew is that Jon Stewart made a lot of cracks about it on The Daily Show. Other comedians also made bad jokes about it. That was all I knew, New Jersey was a bad joke. At that point, my goal was to stay in San Diego for the rest of my life. I really did like San Diego. I’d been stationed there for many years, and my friends were starting to get out of the Navy and we were all settling into civilian life. Things were going good, until my job offer came along. I had to face the fact that I couldn’t match the job, pay, or benefits in San Diego, so I made the decision to move to New Jersey.
New Jersey was a serious culture shock to me. I didn’t fit in very well here at all. The people aren’t entirely friendly to outsiders. I’d lived my entire life on and around military bases, and when I moved here, most people were born here and had lived their entire lives here, and nobody was impressed that I wasn’t from here.
I eventually met my wife through Excite.com personals, and we got married and bought a house. Still, except for my job and my immediate family, I’m often, well, not grateful to live in New Jersey. I fantasize about living almost anywhere else.
I should say that living in New Jersey isn’t entirely horrible. There are a few things about our immediate area that make living there worth it. The following are some businesses and people (either business owners or otherwise “public” persons) who I appreciate:
- Lindenwold- This is the township we live in. I’ve always thought it had sort of a German story-book feel to the name. I found out why, because it’s German and means “Linden woods”. Doh! I should have known enough German to figure that out before I saw that edition of the township newsletter. Lindenwold also has an interesting history of being a railroad center, and today still has three active rail lines going through it: the Conrail, PATCO, and NJ Transit lines. The Conrail line runs very close to our house, and the boys love watching the trains go by. To be honest, I enjoy it sometimes too.
- Ron’s Lindenwold Pizza- This is a pizza joint about a block away from our house. The day we moved in, we ordered dinner from Ron’s, and we’ve been going back ever since. I love being able to call for a pizza, walk over, and have a hot pizza (or cheese steak) within 20 minutes. As long as Ron’s stays in business, we’ll happily patronize it. I’ve met Ron, and he’s always been great to us. Just last night, my wife sent me to Ron’s to get a large Buffalo Chicken Pizza. Yummy!
- Tim’s Auto- I’ve been taking my cars to Tim since 2002. It’s nice having an honest and experienced mechanic within walking distance. If you’re in the Laurel Springs area and need a good mechanic, call Tim. Though he’s always busy, Tim always has time to answer any questions you have about what’s wrong with your car and what he has to do to fix it. He won’t perform any work without giving you a quote.
- Monro Muffler and Brake- I’ve been taking my car to the office in Stratford for years for oil changes. If a car of mine happens to need an oil change while it’s at Tim’s, I’ll have him do it, but normally I take my cars to Monro. They always do a good job and the price is decent.
- The Stratford Diner- This has always been an asset to the area. We don’t go there as much as we used to, but the Stratford Diner is the kind of place that always has a table on a busy Friday night. They can make just about anything, and it’s not possible to leave hungry without violating the laws of physics. They’re friendly and the service is great. Anytime of day or night, the Stratford Diner can whip up anything you want, from an omelet to a 3 course meal. I’ve had business meetings there, as well as met people there socially. I know a few business owners who hold staff meetings at the Stratford Diner.
- Oceano’s- another diner we discovered years ago and enjoy going back to. We found Oceano’s while sitting in traffic outside of it. We were hungry, and the traffic wasn’t moving, so we pulled into their parking lot to have dinner while the other cars figured out where they wanted to go. We like their dinner specials.
- Karen “Colangelo” Hinger, from Weichert, the best Realtor in south Jersey- I’ve been back and forth over the trials and tribulations of our house on this blog last year. We didn’t sell, but it has more to do with the current market and our lack of equity due to a few mistakes I made and am paying for from the subprime junk. Karen is an experienced and skilled Realtor with a background in Theater. She knows how the game is played, and can tell when another agent is bluffing or playing. She was referred to us by a friend. When he asked me how she was doing, I said she was like having a world-champion poker player negotiating for you. We’re still working with her, and I recommend her to anybody in need of a Realtor. I’ll definitely call her for any Real Estate transaction I need in the future. She’s the kind of Realtor who believes that you can either hammer through a quick sale and never hear from the people again, or she can do a good, thorough job and earn a client for life. She prefers the latter.