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Fine Dining on NJ Transit

August 31, 2008

Once or twice a month I travel to New Jersey to see my dad and escape the craziness of the city. The Jersey suburbs, which are quite peaceful and serene (aside from the occasional Led Zeppelin song blaring from a backyard pool party), offer respite from the daily manic trappings of NYC. They’re also, it should be noted, the antithesis of the cesspool-ish, Mafia-laden Jersey stereotype many of us have come to know.

My preferred mode of transport to this Garden State sanctuary is New Jersey Transit’s N.E. Corridor line. I enjoy the convenience and reliability of the line, as well as the frequency with which the trains depart. So, really, what other choice is there?

This weekend, however, I had an experience on NJ Transit that I can only assume was some sort of cryptic karmic lesson — the meaning of which I have yet to decode. As I took my seat Friday night, just as the train was departing Penn Station, the older gentlemen next to me pulled out one of those pre-packaged salads. He either didn’t notice or didn’t care that his evening snack was stinking up the whole car. Now, living in New York City, I expect that my senses will occasionally be assaulted, but why must people eat stinky food on crowded trains? Furthermore, why is it always the guy sitting next to me?

I happen to believe that life is too short to spend it sitting next to a stinky salad eater as I’m traveling through North Jersey, which, let’s be honest, doesn’t smell all that great to begin with. So after about a minute of stewing in silence (I’m not one for dirty looks) I got up and moved to another car. Miraculously, I was able to find an empty seat two cars down. I snatched it up, of course, but, wouldn’t you know it — as we pull up to Secaucus, a young lady boards and sits next to me, whipping out a sandwich the moment she’s settled. Now, granted, sandwiches aren’t as stinky as salads, but I was close enough to her to know exactly what was on hers — ham and cheese, smothered in Dijon mustard.

For some, the best place to eat a stinky meal is a crowded train.

Choo Choo Chow: I'll never understand why some people choose to eat stinky food on crowded trains.

It should be noted that I’ve never been one to enjoy watching or listening to people eat. It makes me wonder: Do others share my aversion? Am I the only one who thinks eating is, well, a little gross?

At any rate, since I was in the window seat, I was trapped by ham-sandwich girl with no way to escape. I had a nice time in Jersey, however, and had forgotten the whole thing by the next morning — that is, until my trip home when, somewhere around New Brunswick, a Russian woman sat next to me, ruffled through her backpack, and began munching away on an unidentified Middle-Eastern dessert (a quatayef perhaps).

Once again, I stewed quietly, unable to muster the courage to shoot her a dirty look.

I have yet to figure out if the universe was trying to teach me something about tolerance, or if this was just a weekend of unfortunate seating choices. Why, karma? Why?

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Keith permalink
    August 31, 2008 11:29 pm

    I hear ya

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