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Time Way Out: The Jug Handle State

“I believe that there’s an intelligence to the universe, with the exception of certain parts of New Jersey.”–Woody Allen

The unintelligent part of Jersey.

The unintelligent part of Jersey.

I have spent the lion’s share of my adult life working in the pharmaceutical industry.   To be precise, I sell goods and services to pharmaceutical companies.  This is a difficult profession, for it entails enduring one of the most hair raising trials-by-fire in any known line of of work.

I have to drive in New Jersey. 

Unfortunately, due to the high concentration of  pharma companies in the so-called Garden State, I have to drive there often.  At least, I try to.  I sometimes think it would be easier to run in quicksand.  It has taken me 15 minutes, on one occasion, just to cross the street.  I have been 20 minutes late in getting to a location less than a mile away–not because there was a lot of traffic–but because I was pointed the wrong way on Route 22 and the nearest jug handle turnaround was three miles and seven traffic lights in the wrong direction.

It all started away back in the mid-1980’s.  I was driving for the first time to Sandoz in East Hanover.  As I approached my target on Route 10 from the west, there majestically high on hill to my right towered a high-rise with large block letters S-A-N-D-O-Z emblazoned across the top floor.  Brilliant!  I found it and I was on time.  I drove past an intersection, turned right into a parking lot and pulled up to a security gate to register for my sales appointment.

“Sorry sir, this is the service entrance, you need to go to the visitors center at the main gate.”

“Huh? Where’s that?”

The guard pointed to the intersection that I had just passed.  No problem, I was 10 minutes early for my appointment.   All I needed to do was pull out of the security area and turn left.  There was just one problem.  Between me and the traffic going in the other direction was something that looked like the Berlin Wall–complete with barbed wire and machine gun turrets.  It was then that I learned about jug handle turns.  You see, New Jersey has it’s own laws of physics.  In New Jersey, you have to turn right to turn left.  Understanding quantum mechanics is easy compared to understanding traffic patterns in New Jersey.

So I continued in the wrong direction on route 10 until I came to the first jug handle turn; I think this was somewhere near Bangor, Maine.  I came back to the original intersection I had missed, only to find there was no left turn allowed there, either.  This required me to go to the next jug handle, just outside of Allentown, PA.  Needless to say, I was late for my appointment.

It all boils down to this.  Other states have freeways, expressways and thruways; in New Jersey they have no-ways. Once you get on, there is no way to get off.  You have to drive to Delaware to turn around.**    There is one good thing about all of this, though. Here where I live in Connecticut, all the country roads in the woods can be confusing, particularly at night.  In a strange area it is easy to drive around in circles if you don’t have a GPS.   But in New Jersey, you don’t need a GPS to know you have gone wrong.  When you miss your turn in Jersey your whole life starts passing in front of you.   By now I have lived more lives than a cat.

**This literally did happen to me once, though it was actually in southeastern Pennsylvania, which has obviously been mapped out by the same civil engineers that designed New Jersey.  I was on a limited access connecting road and missed my exit.  In order to turn around, I had to drive six miles to the end of the connector–which was in Delaware!

Comments

  1. Amen brother. It took me 30 minutes to drive to a building I could see, only 500 yards from me. This was Edison, NJ.

  2. LoL … so true. I leave the driving to hubby, but I still have to watch out for u-turns and the actual ramp to turn on … which I miss half the time. I too have a cluttered mind but my attention span isn’t long enough to write about it … Thanks for the visit on my blog.

  3. Mark…I hope you are able to enjoy the holiday season…despite your no-way dilemma. It was great getting to meet you. I’m sure I made a *memorable* impression—bran muffin crumbs and all. ;o)

  4. Miami everything changes so much and so drastically express way you don’t know what you will get stuck in . Downtown is a mass of one way only.

  5. Ouch. Makes me feel better about having to deal with the rotaries of Western MA!

  6. Reminds me of my neighborhood here in Tokyo. Most of the streets used to be deer paths and rabbit runs, so even walking you often can’t get to where you want to go. Maybe I need to get a pet Bambi to guide me.

    • HAHAHA. If we’re talking cities with odd layouts, let’s talk Boston. Many of the roads there date to colonial era cow paths. Many of the drivers there drive like they are herding…cats.

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