A Glimmer Of Hope…In NJ

With NJ homeowners seemingly leaving the Garden State in record numbers (and paying an exit tax to do so….don’t get me started), I am forever defending this great state of mine. Sure, I have been doing this for years, to visitors who drive up the Turnpike only to tell me how ‘fragrant’ they found the two-hour trip, to TV viewers who blame us for “Jersey Shore” and our “Housewives” series. But just this week, I stumbled across two instances in Jersey, delivered by the youth of this state no less, that gave me some hope. And if you know me even a little bit from reading this blog, you’ll realize I am not prone to great faith in my fellow man or hope in general. Still, the two examples below actually befell me, and I am better for them having done so.

#1.

On my travels down Route 78, I came to shop in the massive ShopRite in Clinton. Running into the store the day before what became our first significant snow in two years and the first of the New Year, I was pretty surprised I got in and out as quickly as I did (then again, I was shopping for only produce and made a beeline in and out of that section). The extra little sweetener here was “Jack,” the young lad who checked me out (no, I refuse to jockey for a position in the pen of folks using the self-check-out-employe-killing stations). Unloading my few items on the conveyor belt as Jack dealt with the customer before me, I realized his amiability as he tried his best to engage his current customer. The old guy warmed up after a bit, and when he left, I said, “Hello Jack, how you are doing?’ to which this young guy’s face lit up (I am guessing he was around 18, if a day) with me being so nice from the jump and obviously wanting to converse with him. We proceeded to have a great jaw, joking about the general populace’s sheep-like mentality to rush into a grocery store to stock up on bread and milk before a big snowstorm.

What a freaking great kid! He made eye contact; he wasn’t sneaking peeks at his cell phone while checking me out (which I have been witness to many times with many a cashier of all stores, and he seemed to like having a conversation. Wow

#2.

Almost around the same environs, I have had occasion to stop at one of the newly built mega-Quick Checks, sporting a gas service area. Competing with WaWa, these convenience store oases are becoming ubiquitous in New Jersey, as I assume they are all across the country. For the second time in two weeks, I happened to pull up only to be serviced by another young gentleman, someone who could give old Jack a run for his money. As I had the first time I encountered this young man’s unusual and abject friendliness (when I got out of my car this second time, he said “Hey, welcome back.”) I remarked once again on how nice he was, to which he said he recalled me saying this the last time I was in and thanking me yet again for noticing. Bopping from four pumps at a time, the bespeckled dude had time to engage me, talk about the rain we had just had and lay his wonderfulness on me.

Again, wow, somebody having a conversation with me, and a pleasant one at that! Whodda thunk it?!

So, here’s my three takeaways, for what they are worth: There might just be young people ‘out there’ that will make the world a brighter place in the future (although guys like Jack and my Quick Check gas guy will certainly have their work cut out for them treating the world as they do); we do breed some good humans here in NJ (yeah, you could argue that these two guys might be living in PA or NY or anywhere else, but I’m taking a leap with them working these kind of jobs that they are probably NJ residents); the white male is not inherently toxic.

Oh, and speaking of NJ, I just came across this wonderful website: NJArts.net – Covering all forms of art throughout New Jersey

Check it out!

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