Driving in New Jersey requires a willingness to be constantly taken by surprise not by other drivers, necessarily, but by the signs informing distance and exits. Go along following the exit signs to, for example, Newark Airport. Those signs will tell you which divide in the road is yours and so you take it. They will even tell you in which lane you should position yourself and so you maneuver into that lane. Those signs effectively lull you into a trust. You begin to rely on them. And then, just at the last second when they've got you positioned in the far left lane, the sign says exit immediately from the far right lane. It never fails.
Imagine my relief, then, when I arrived at the Newark Airport thinking I was then free of that particular brand of New Jersey humor.
I got suckered.
All of the postings told me that my 4:30 PM flight left from a gate at the far end of the Continental terminal. I believed them. I got to the gate with enough time to begin reading the novel I'd been lugging around with me for two weeks. Even the display above the gate assured me that I was where I needed to be.
And then it happened. Twenty minutes before my flight was to begin boarding, the display above my gate -- my promised gate, my guaranteed gate -- changed. No longer was the flight leaving from that gate going to Los Angeles. It was going to Argentina. Curious though I am, I did not want to go to Argentina on that particular evening.
I ran to a video display and was slapped in the face by the fact that my flight was going to board and depart from a gate at the opposite end of the Continental Airlines Terminal.
If I ran on the moving walkways and knocked down the elderly, I just might make the flight. And so I did. Walkers and three pronged canes flew in my wake. Children screamed in terror. Each time I passed a video arrival and departure display I checked my gate just to make sure I did not become the brunt of yet another bit of New Jersey humor.
When I arrived at the gate out of breath and drenched in sweat I couldn't help but wonder how all of the other passengers knew to be at that gate all along.
That's New Jersey humor for you.