Tuesday, July 15, 2014

10 People You Will Meet on NJ Transit

I’m in a relationship and it’s complicated. Day in and day out, my significant other is full of excuses as to why I haven't been picked up on time. Last week? Inclement weather. The other morning? Stuck in the Lincoln Tunnel.  Yesterday evening, he dropped this bomb: All my seats are full.

The cold-hearted truth is that I’m not the only person in his life. With 50 seats to fill and some major highway to burn, there are definitely many eccentric personalities vying for his affections. The following is a list of 10 people you will inevitably have to interact with on a New Jersey Transit bus to or from New York City:

*Disclaimer: While the below list is solely comprised of violators of the Unofficial Public Transportation Code of Conduct, there have been reports of normal individuals riding on NJ Transit. 

1) There is an unspoken understanding among commuters that, while the seat reclining feature exists, using it is just not cool. Try telling that to The Recliner who cranks back the seat onto your lap faster than you can say Port Authority.

2) Wasabi Peas for breakfast? Why not! The Nosher comes on board prepared with a fanny pack full of snacks. Don’t ask them to share though, unless splashing grape juice on your white blouse is what you meant by sharing.

3) Be wary of The Bobblehead, who toes the fine line between fully awake and deep, deep REM. Pure exhaustion or the hypnotic effect of the Lincoln Tunnel might just explain why the person’s head next to you looks like that Vinny Testaverde freebie you got at a Jets game back in 2001.

4) There is no shame in trying to get some shut-eye on the ride home. It’s been a long day—just ask number 3! But if it is necessary to whip out an eye mask for the duration of the ride back to the Jersey suburbs, you run the risk of being pegged as The Diva. 

5) The bus was supposed to come at 6:18 p.m.? If 30 seconds pass with no sign of a bus, The Instigator is pacing, sputtering profanities and just generally stirring the negativity pot. Keep your distance unless you want to be involved in a grassroots riot.

6) There is a certain threshold of iPhone earbud volume that, if crossed, will out The Closet Miley Fan. You might witness an incognito attempt to skip certain tracks. A song from Bangerz? Lets it slide. “Nobody’s Perfect” from the Hannah Montana 2 album? Immediately skips and hopes nobody noticed.

7) 165 P? 165 T? 165 FX? There’s a difference? The Rookie is in for a rude awakening when he or she realizes that there isn’t just one Yellow Brick Road back to Bergen County (even though there is just one winding line down the Port Authority escalator.)

8) Few things could qualify as more boring than the 16th century novel I have to read before the beginning of next semester. But for some reason, The Snooper peeping over my shoulder seems to think that it’s juicier than 50 Shades of Grey. Nothing to see here. Run along!

9) Your Duane Reade hand sanitizer is no match for The Contagion. This person probably landed the “Perfect Attendance Award” in high school by infecting the entire student body, thereby sabotaging everyone else’s attendance.

10) If you disembark from the bus seriously considering enrolling in the Witness Protection Program, then you were unfortunate enough to have sat next to The Interrogator. Next time, while fielding extremely personal, rapid-fire questions, try to remember what your mom told you about talking to strangers.


Despite the crazy cast of characters and the number of times I’m stood up, there is just something about NJ Transit that keeps me coming back. After all, this Jersey girl has to get to and from the Hearst Tower somehow! So while I may be in a love-hate relationship with NJ Transit, I’ll just continue to wait on the side of the road until my dear 165 Parkway bus rolls up and sweeps me off my feet…eventually. 

--Written by Lauren Masur, Cornell University, Food Network Magazine
--Edited by Chelsea Stone, University of Southern California, Reader's Digest

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