Welcome to the wilds! New Jersey for me was like crossing the border into Tijuana. Sure, the new lifestyle was crazy, but no one would ever admit to living there. When my husband’s job was relocated here in August 2010, we both were frightened. Now we’re learning about life, love, and marriage in this strange new culture. Feel free to tag along for the adventure.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


The little sliver of a state known as New Jersey has a total population of about 9 million people give or take a few hundred thousand. In my husband’s and my journey from Home Depot, Lowes, Target, and food spots, we’ve met just a few of them. And let me tell you, the handyman was just the first of many good experiences in this strange culture.

Not surprising, the people of NJ are neither like The Real New Jersey Housewives nor the conscience impaired crazies of The Jersey Shore. In fact, they are quite normal, salt of the earth folks, so to speak.

Since living in the city, I had come to accept Targets and Walmarts, as being the closest thing to another country that I could find; because beyond the general culture divide, there were also major language disparities. Not that I’m complaining, I always got what I needed.

“Do you have fruit?” I would say.

“Fruit?” they would repeat.

I nodded. They pointed.

The end… not necessarily of my search, but of the communiqué. It worked.

It’s not like that in rural New Jersey. At Target, the check-out lady and I actually said more than “hello” and “thank you.” Actually, my husband accused me of being “dismissive,” because after standing at the check out with my bagged packages in hand, I was ready to leave…but the conversation hadn’t ended.

‘Strange place,’ I thought, but the interesting encounters only continued.

We went to Home Depot. My husband’s general rule when we go to any “man store” is that there is to be no hand holding, no kissing, and no cart pushing until we have looped around the store at least three times. “It’s necessary,” he says, “in order to see everything,” (before buying what we actually wanted and needed). This increases our bill and decreases my patience, because my wonderfully thrifty husband will see discounts and say things like “I think we need a chainsaw.” These comments usually irrevocably degrade my calm into a childish man-store-tantrum, because there is absolutely no need for chainsaws in our civilized lifestyle or the list of other ridiculous whim purchases that he desires. Note that my husband is cackling fiendishly during said tantrums.

Anyways, in the city our loops around Home Depot or Lowes are ignored. No one is around to watch you; even if you were about to palm spray paint or hammers. Even if you push those orange buttons, you might as well bring a book to read, because they never come to find you. It’s like a joke, and I have often wondered if they sit in the backroom watching to see how long the idiots will wait for service. However, this too is not the same in the wilds of NJ. We completed five laps around Home Depot and at least one person asked us if we needed help every time. Some gave us strange stares like we were casing the joint by the end, but in truth everyone was quite helpful.

Then, to top off that day, we struck up conversation in a parking lot with people from JORBA (Jersey Off Road Biking Association), who were happy to detail the local trails, best grocery stores, and ate lunch with us.

By the end of the day, all the work on the house that needed down: the carpet cleaning, bathroom caulking, and light bulb changing became a mere annoyance. My husband and I were both equally excited to move into a community where the general demeanor was overwhelmingly friendly. We had not missed the greetings of small towns, but after surviving in the city where people brush you off and most pedestrians avoid eye contact unless they want money, the wilds of New Jersey were surprisingly refreshing.

And there you have it… one “sunshine on my shoulders” kind of entry about The Garden State.

Some said it wasn’t possible…

1 comment:

  1. The only chainsaw your husband can safely operate is one that comes from Fisher Price.