Something Else SpaceMouse Can't Do (or Adventures in New Jersey)

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SpaceMouse

Fun Lover
Last month I shocked the model railroading community when I announced that there was something indeed that I could not do.

SpaceMouse cannot stand up in a hammock.

Well, on my recent train ride I found something else. SpaceMouse cannot read the load limits on the cars of a speeding westbound freight from less than three feet away from inside the windows of an eastbound Amtrak. But SpaceMouse has not completely given up, there's a possibility that he can recall those numbers using hypnotherapy.

When I got into Philadelphia, our train disconnected our diesel engine and hooked up a whisper quiet electric engine. We then proceeded to back into New Jersey in Stealth Mode. I asked the conductor about this and he looked me in the eye. "Do you really want to be seen going into New Jersey?" Evidently if you back into New Jersey everyone thinks you are leaving. When we backed out several days later, I asked again. He said, "Philadelphia is worried about," and put up two fingers in each hand and dipped them twice, "‘the immigrant problem.'" By then, after four days in New Jersey, I knew what he meant.

It took me a while to figure out the New Jersey Transit System's way of doing things. It seems that every station from Trenton to New York is named Shrrriiick: Brant Branr Bra Brank Bra :Shrrick. I knew I had to get off at my Shrrriiick: Brant Branr Bra Brank Bra :Shrrick so I started looking for clues as to how to figure out which stop mine was going to be. Then I noticed that everyone got tickets punched by the conductor and that specific numbers were punched. Mine was punched #4, conductor code for Shrrriiick: Brant Branr Bra Brank Bra :Shrrick #9, which I figured out by reading the station sign as I got off the train. Further investigation showed that my stop was 9 stops going out from Trenton and 5 stops short of New York. Punching #4 made perfect sense.

I got out at Shrrriiick: Brant Branr Bra Brank Bra :Shrrick #9 and had to cross under the tracks to get to the other side of the station. It was cold out, about 30 degrees with a nasty 40 mph wind. I looked at the posted schedules. There were five copies of the schedule of the train I did not want to ride and only one of the one I needed to take--and it listed the schedule of the train running in the opposite direction of where I wanted to go. Later I found out that the schedule I wanted was on the opposite side of the station, where the trains ran the other way. The system makes sense once you understand it.

What the locals do is wait outside in the wind for the train. It's a game kinda like the arcade game where the worm pops up out one of 12 holes and you try to hit it with a plastic hammer. Only in the NJ Transit game you have a train of 15 cars and you have to run to the location of the car where the conductor pops out and ask him where the train is going. To which he answers, "Your train is right behind us. Just wait right there." Now depending atmospheric conditions, solar flares and the Earth's rotation this can mean:

9 trains back and an hour and 36 minutes later,
8 trains back and an hour and 22 minutes later,
7 trains back and an hour and 7 minutes later,
and so on.

Remember I told you this system makes sense? When you can't feel your feet and you just spent an hour and 45 minutes standing behind a pole to cut as much of the wind as you can, you really don't care what kind of crap-hole train you get into as long as you are out of the wind. This is called "Spinning Your Public Image."

Now I was fully briefed about New Jersey. I knew people you come in contact with are going to greet you with

Howya Doin?

To which the proper response is

Ahm doin gud.

I knew all this, but I Assssummmmed it was like the ever popular Wazzzup–wazzzup interplay (or for you Californians, dude-dude.) But Jersey has taken this exchange to a whole new level.

The following is a real conversation, edited for content and language, plus the fact that I didn't get the names exactly right.

I got into a cab.

"Howya Doin?"

"Fine fine."

[dead air]

"Howya Doin?"

"Pretty good. Pretty Good."

[more dead air]

"How YA DOIN?"

"Ahm doing good."

The driver, finally satisfied that I got the password/countersign right, put the car in gear. I later found out that to enter any conversation topic or engage in any action you have to complete the password-countersign ritual.

"Howya Doin?"

"Ahm doin gud."

"Ya know your hotel used to be a Ramada Inn. Then it was bought out by Sheridan. The Mariott bought it but sold it when they moved downtown a mile or so. Turned it into a Residence Inn. Put a frigerator in the room and charge two hundred fricking dollars–and you have to rent for three months at a time. But they closed down when the Tagliattis built their hotel and all the other hotels went away. They were the only hotel by the racetrack and you have to stay there. Ya know what I mean?"

"Uh yeah."

"Howya Doin?" Signifying subject change.

"Ahm doin gud.".I was getting good at this.

"See that building. Used to be a Dairy Queen. All the kids used to get their ice cream there. Now it's a fricking funeral home. Bugalari bought it for his kid when he graduated from high school and turned it into a funeral home. Imagine givin' your kid a funeral home. At least they could use the frigerators. And the kids, the kids would come down for an ice cream and find a funeral home."

Evidently this problem lasted several years.

"Howya Doin?"

"Ahm doin gud"

"Ya hear what Amtrak did? They shut down all the tracks goin' into the city. Didn't tell nobodys. Just announced it was closed at six in the morning. They were trying to strike and the governor says they can't do it. They already get $30 frickin dollars an hour for Christsakes. And they want benefits and retirement. You get either benefits or retirement. You don't get both these days. They were sending him a message. Didn't tell nobodys and just shut it all down. And all the mothers and their kids stuck out in the cold... That'll be five dollars."

I tipped him two dollars for value added.

I managed to get out of there this morning as we backed our way into Philadelphia. Doc says I'll be re-acclimated in a week. Maybe less. I'm seeing a hypnotherapist on Friday.
 

jbaakko

Diesel Detail Freak
Uh, wah? Wazzup now? I missed half that. Wait re-read... Ah, I see, I think... Sounds like you had quite the time in Jersey. Kinda half-arse reminds me of being in Bangor, Maine for 35 hours and meeting the locals, at the "best club in town", it was ladies night at the bar in the Ramada Inn I was stuck in. I'm still not sure what all I was educated on, I had no interest in town history, all I wanted to do was get back to Cali. Anyways, good luck on the re-acclimation.
 

Fergmiester

M.E.S.S. Maker
I think I'll stick to the Canadian password-countersign ritual

"So what do ya think?"
"More rain I'd say"

And if they say Eh? they're from the West and if it's "my son" they're from Newfoundland, Buddy, the East Coast and if they look at you and say there's not a cloud in the sky you know they're from away and say "Wait five minutes"

Works for me
 
If you wanted an adventure, it sounds like you had one. I think people responsible for signage and published schedules have a really perverted sense of humor. Here in Pittsburgh, a lot of road signs, including on the Interstates, only make sense to us locals, but some even let us visit places we really didn't want to see. And good luck with the bus schedules, I've lived in Pittsburgh all my life (65 years) and still have to ask the bus driver where the hell he's going.
Anyway, you got to ride the train. I was going to take a train last summer from Pittsburgh to Harrisburg to visit my niece and her family. Besides being really expensive, it would take 5 1/2 hours station to station. It only takes 3 1/2 hours by car and that is from my house to her house. No wonder a train is not the first choice for most people.
Welcome back, hope you have more stories about your train trip.
Tom
 

GrandpaCoyote

Wiley Old Dog
Chip,

I have a dear friend that pulled up stakes from N.J. and moved herself and family to Texas about a year ago and I just had to share your adventure story with her... She laughed herself silly and said "Wot?! 'es waz just makin shure da guy knew how to cooommuuuunecate" :D

Glad you're back safe and sound and hope the hypnotherapy goes well *snickers*

Peace.

Coyote
 

Steve B

Firefighter
Sounds like you had fun Chip you will have fun if you ever cross the pond to my backwoods, you could be greeted with any of these, answer with caution if you don't know what the hell is being said,,,

these all pronunced as one continious word,

Allreetfettler (friendly hello)
Allreetcock (friendly hello)
ArtaLankymon (do you live in Lancashire ?)
Howdo (Friendly hello)
Amreetgradleyfeintasithi (I am very happy to see you)

be aware of these

woratgawpinat (what are you looking at, fighting talk)
ThalgetaWiganKiss (i will give you a head butt if you don't walk away)


Bugger me Not what you may think this one (said when you are surprised, or just plain exhausted, nothing to do with the being bu####d)
 

SpaceMouse

Fun Lover
Steve B said:
Sounds like you had fun Chip you will have fun if you ever cross the pond to my backwoods, you could be greeted with any of these, answer with caution if you don't know what the hell is being said,,,

these all pronunced as one continious word,

Allreetfettler (friendly hello)
Allreetcock (friendly hello)
ArtaLankymon (do you live in Lancashire ?)
Howdo (Friendly hello)
Amreetgradleyfeintasithi (I am very happy to see you)

be aware of these

woratgawpinat (what are you looking at, fighting talk)
ThalgetaWiganKiss (i will give you a head butt if you don't walk away)


Bugger me Not what you may think this one (said when you are surprised, or just plain exhausted, nothing to do with the being bu####d)

Got it. You can't tell the players without a program.
 

jacon12

Member
That's a hoot, Chip. The thing that worries me is I understood it all.
You know up north, most folks begin a fairy tale with... "Once upon a time.."
but down here in Georgia it's usually, "You ain't gonna believe this sh*t but".
Surely you've got some more stories from Jersey?
Jarrell
 




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