I recently accepted a job at New Jersey City University (Motto: Please Notice Us!). For the past eight months, I’ve been commuting to Jersey City.
Or, to put it another way, for the past eight months I have been in eight jillion traffic jams.
As I sit there, stuck in the No Man’s Land between Newark Airport and the Pulaski Skyway (closed for repairs, apparently forever), I contemplate my surroundings.
On Route 9 there is a billboard that says “God Exists.” I wonder who this message is meant for.
I don’t think I’m the intended audience. I already agree with the sentiment, so I don’t get any new information from the message.
But I can’t imagine the message is for an atheist, either. I doubt a nonbeliever would read a billboard about God and think “I’m convinced!”
After much consideration, I’ve decided that the billboard is meant for people who are religious but forgetful. It’s easy to forget God exists on Route 9.
The closer I get to Jersey City, the denser the graffiti becomes. Most of it consists of mindless scribbles or gangland signs, but one effort never fails to catch my eye. Spray painted upon the wall of an abandoned factory is the sentiment “VEW DISTO.”
I have no idea what VEW DISTO means, but that doesn’t matter; it’s the presentation that gets me. The words are written in fiery, jagged letters. The composition is superb. The color choices are striking and effective. I am also dazzled by how huge it is; VEW DISTO is at least 40 feet long and 20 feet high. Its creation took time—and required ladders. That’s a degree of ambition not often found upon the walls of abandoned factories.
I wonder if there is a way that artist could give lessons to other vandals. Higher-quality graffiti wouldn’t make Jersey City less ugly, exactly, but it would make Jersey City more interesting.
Last week I watched a car slam into the rear end of a tow truck, which, as far as car accidents go, is pretty convenient.
I always hit a bottleneck in South Kearny. It is near a prison, and every morning I can see the inmates play pickup games of basketball and soccer in the yard. As I watch them, I think, “Convicted felons are having a better morning than I am.”
I complain, but sitting in traffic does allow my mind to wander in productive ways. I often come up with creative ideas for children’s book stories, which is wonderful. But no matter how inspired I become, I always return to the same thought: I really need to pee.