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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

This is a summer rerun.   It’s not that I’m lazy, it’s that I’m in the midst of three days stuck in the so called “Garden State” on business, and I thought, “why shouldn’t I share the pain?”

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. Roy Dressel says:

    The only time I have been in NJ I was at a motel and the only road that went by the hotel was a one way, and to get out and then back to the hotel was a 20-30 minute affair, so my limited experience confirms your post.

  2. Hah hah! I love this! 🙂

    I’m terrible at directions to begin with and never had the guts to drive in New Jersey. I once got lost in New Orleans and ended up in Mississippi because, somehow, a traffic jam I ended up in carried me right into a ferry that took me across the river. I drove around in Mississippi for ten minutes because I was too embarrassed to turn immediately around and reboard the ferry I had just come off.

  3. I was just driving in Jersey yesterday…experienced very similar situations! Good luck to you!

  4. Interesting – are jug handles a US-only thing? Never heard of that before. Obviously we (in Europe) are missing out on something!

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