Friday, August 23, 2013
The rain actually started when I was still in
, a gradual
splattering on my windshield as I steered passed the dinosaur park and boat
ramp towards the cliff at the far end. I had come in search of a story – with
the beats split after the loss of several very competent reporters – I was back
to doing a Secaucus story per week, and this one involved a bunch of kids and
the police department. But outdoors? With a sky that looked like it would soon
crack open and dump a good portion of the Laurel Hill
Park Atlantic Ocean
on this open landscape. Blue cracks of lightning tore off pieces of the sky as
I pulled into the gravel parking lot and stepped out into the rain.
A lone police car stood near the ball fields with its back to the cliff, and I made my way to the open window to ask the officer about the fate of my feature story. He directed me elsewhere, and I returned to my car not too wet since the storm had not yet let out its full breath.
But I would get wet, I thought, if I didn’t hurry, and rode back out the way I’d come, back into a different kind of deluge near Turnpike Interchange X – a ludicrous name for an emerging part of a new, modern Secaucus commonly called “Exchange” because its life blood was the recently constructed rail interchange where commuters from elsewhere in the state leaped off their train to access a train that more directly went into Manhattan.
A bad idea from the start – this thing eventually will change the world of one-time pig farms and green into a new Jersey City, or perhaps more accurately, a new Battery Park City, filled with people bound to Manhattan but with no roots here except to sleep.
As an indication of the cultural indigestion this place had already produced, I came out from a park filled with canoes, a mountain, dinosaurs and ball fields and into a mass of traffic that included expensive luxury cars weaving between tractor trailers all trying to access one or two lanes and stuck at a traffic light that seemed to remain green for all of 20 seconds.
The splats on the windshield grew more intense, but not yet so intense that I felt I would not get where I was going without building an ark first. The wait, however, was unbearable, as truck and car inched up towards a pointless light, struggling against new tides from parking facilities and warehouses to either side.
I guess I missed the idea that a small town like Secaucus could remain unsullied by the madness of overdevelopment urban counties like this one had, and that a pond where kids could fish did not have to overhear the roar of trucks and beep of impatient horns that expanded development always brought.
I was also struck by the irony of the dinosaur park and the idea that each of us in our separate vehicles operated on the remains of those ancient beasts, and that we were wasting that resource because each of us had to live and travel in our own little box, where we did not have to rub shoulders with anybody else. I was also struck by the fact that the traffic jam I was stuck in was the result of an effort to actually remove vehicles from the road by providing them with alternative public transportation, and that this great scheme was self-defeating from the start, from when some advertising giant thought he could make a fortune off of connecting rail lines to the belief that humanity will get out of their cars and get herded into Manhattan-bound cattle cars without a fight, and that we would waste as much fuel trying to save fuel because in the end, we all must have these boxes, even if it is only to get ourselves to cattle cars.
Eventually, I turned off the wrong way and took a longer route to the place I needed to go, the rain growing heavier as I drove so that it was a downpour when I finally got to a place where the cars stopped and the real remaining open space was. But by then, the glass was so smeared with rain, I couldn’t see it.