How to drive in South Jersey

Good evening, sports fans. It's a bully time out here on the roadways of southern New Jersey. A bully time. Look out for that jeep!

We're here by the side of the road in our battle-ready old Rambler, plated with salvaged planking from a decommissioned freighter for added summer-driving protection. We are about to - now please stop here, you faint of heart. We are about to drive through southern New Jersey during the tourist season.

Here, have some caffeine pills. Have some coffee. Have some more caffeine. Have these amphetamines. Have some Ronco tarnish remover. Aretheyhavinganyeffectonyou? Areyoureadytoroll? Good.

Hang on tight, because we're moving! And we're driving. We are driving as you have to drive during the summer. We have our right foot thrust deep into the hyperspace zone of our acceleration range. Our old engine is whining, crying, pining at a truly un-nerving tone. People are running from us in all directions. Tongues of flame our shooting out our exhaust pipe.

And you know? It's actually quite pretty, the way the trees and pedestrians and other cars just kind of whiz past you in a blur like this. Very relaxing.The breeze is very nice.

And we are having a good time. Yessir. Despite the fact that the Ocean City police have given up citing speeders and are now simply shooting them on the fly. We're not worried. Our PBA sticker is displayed prominently on our rear glass.

But it's challenge enough twisting among these poor pedestrians trying to cross the streets. Look at this group, laboring toward the beach, burdened with chairs and coolers. See them scatter wildly with just one feint toward them with our automobile. It's touching, the concern they show for their lives.

And now we're spinning around the circle in Somers Point. Spinning around it five, six, maybe seven times because we don't know which exit to take for the clam bar. At some point we may stop dead for absolutely no reason, creating a chain-reaction accident certain to dent every car within two miles. Even those in garages.

And if we get spinning fast enough, eventually we will escape the gravitational pull of this circle and slingshot off toward the parkway entrance on Laurel Drive, where we will blast noisily down an otherwise quiet street and rush the toll booth in a mass.

Right. Tips for safe and effective driving - besides the steel plating - might be useful at this point:

In two-lane traffic, change lanes every 10 seconds. Don't signal. This stimulates others drivers to greater alertness.

With slow traffic in the right lane, move to the left and go equally slow. This will put other drivers in a humorous mood and promote togetherness on the highways.

When parking, pull to the side of the street, then throw your door wide open without looking behind you. This will admonish passing bicyclists, now occupying part of your door, to be more careful next time.

In general, relax and enjoy yourself, and follow the first rule of defensive driving: Assume the other guy is driving about as well as you.

© Rob Laymon 2002

Return to Columns