Just Keep Driving… by
50
(92 Stories)

Prompted By Going to Work

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If you assume that a student’s job is going to school, and that going home at the end of the work day is part of going to work, then this story belongs here.

Neither the nondescript stores and the black wilderness of the Meadowlands on one side, nor the dark cemetery dotted with barely visible white tombstones on the other, gave me any assistance.

Freshman year, I commuted between FDU in Rutherford, NJ and my home in Bayonne. At the northern end, my route ran for a little under two miles along Schuyler Ave. in Lyndhurst and North Arlington. To the east of Schuyler were many small, nondescript buildings housing a myriad of businesses; beyond them was the expanse of the Hackensack Meadowlands. To the west it was either bland one and two family aluminum-sided homes, or the green grass and graves of Holy Cross Cemetery.

I drove this route twice a day, four or five days per week, but coming home in the dusk of a late winter afternoon, the realization crept up on me that I had no idea where I was.

Not where precisely I was along Schuyler, but where I was at all. I knew that I had left Rutherford not long ago, and that I was heading home. I knew I was no longer IN Rutherford, and that I had not reached Jersey City.  Past that…nothing. I didn’t know if I was on the correct route, or if I had somehow taken a wrong turn and was heading for parts unknown. In the near-darkness, neither the nondescript stores and black wilderness of the Meadowlands on one side, nor the dark cemetery dotted with barely visible white tombstones on the other, gave me any assistance.

I decided that turning off would only add to my confusion, so I just kept driving, figuring that eventually I’d arrive at a landmark that I recognized.

A couple of minutes later I reached a popular eatery (french fries in brown gravy to die for!) that I often patronized, and suddenly my befuddlement lifted and I knew exactly where I was. I hung a louie* onto the Belleville ‘Pike, across the unlit Meadowlands toward Jersey City and home. But the sensation of feeling lost in familiar territory remains an eerie and unsettling memory.

*North Jersey dialect for a left turn, as opposed to a rickie.

Profile photo of Dave Ventre Dave Ventre
A hyper-annuated wannabee scientist with a lovely wife and a mountain biking problem.


Tags: driving, commuting, confusion

Comments

  1. Marian says:

    I’ve had a similar experience, Dave, and it’s not fun. But, you made this Jersey girl smile with “hung a louie.” I bet my California native friends wouldn’t have a clue.

  2. Strange Dave, but stranger things happen. More than once while I was working in a school a short commute from home, I was scheduled to attend a day-long, district-wide meeting in another school a bit further away.

    I knew the route to that other school well, but somehow my car took me to my own school. Then I had to high-tail it to the meeting, arriving late of course..

    And the time I hadn’t set my alarm, overslept, and drove to school, speeding for those 7 miles. Only to find an empty parking lot and a locked school building. (It was Saturday.)

  3. Suzy says:

    Were you actually on the route you usually took and just didn’t recognize it, or had you made a wrong turn somewhere? Either way, pretty unsettling in the days before you had GPS to help you out. This Jersey girl was happy to see your reference to the Belleville ‘Pike!

  4. Khati Hendry says:

    Good news is that it hasn’t been a recurring problem. I think sometimes our minds wander and it’s like waking up in a strange bed wondering where we are. Your story described the sensation well. In any case, “hang a louie” was something that made its way to Michigan too.

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