The Big Banana
When Mason’s Sister and I decided to visit Mason in Washington D.C., renting a car seemed like the best plan. Amtrak was going to cost us almost $200 bucks each, flying was the same and involved getting to and from the airport, and the Chinatown bus, while cheap, is notoriously inconsistent between NY and DC, and we’d be tied to their schedule. Plus, I was going to help Mason’s Sister move from Queens to Brooklyn, and I’m pretty sure the Chinatown bus isn’t so hip to detours. So rental car it was. Typically, I like road trips. I like tuning the radio dial to whatever random station you happen to get wherever you are, driving through towns I don’t know, and the long stretches of time to think as you drive down the highway. Road trips present the perfect opportunity to consume foods you’d otherwise scoff at, like Pizzeria Pretzel Combos. And after a couple of weeks in New York, I was really excited to get out of the city, too. Even when I picked up the rental car and nearly went blind from the horrible horrible green-tinged yellow color (the photo makes it look like a nice gentle gold- don’t be fooled,) I was still excited because We were going on a road trip! But this was not, as it turned out, a road trip. This, my friends, was a seven-hour rush-hour-style commute. It was the worst drive I have ever made. After moving 100 yards in two hours through the Delaware Memorial Bridge toll plaza, Delaware is dead to me. Mason’s Sister and I got progressively loopier as the minutes of not moving ticked by. We dubbed the car “the Big Banana” (look! It was even yellow on the inside!) and started talking to it like it was another person. We spent hours thinking up our very best New Jersey jokes to try to punish the state for having the horrible New Jersey Turnpike. By the time we got to Mason’s, we were hot, grouchy, and demanding margaritas. Fortunately, we had called ahead to warn her of our tequila needs, so we were off to the cantina as soon as we arrived and all turned out well. It was a much-needed weekend of being among friends where the conversation is comfortable and the company is good and not once do you sniff the air and say “I wonder if someone peed on the sidewalk in front of my apartment this morning?” It was, in short, a nice break from New York. My boss lives on the New Jersey/Delaware border, because that’s the closest place his family could afford a house on his public interest salary. After this weekend, every time I think about his commute I want to cry a little for him. Having a house is nice, but how he has managed not to maim his family in a fit of rage after making that drive twice a day is totally beyond me. If that’s the kind of sacrifice it takes to work in public interest in New York, I can say with confidence that it is So Not Worth It.