Growing up, I once heard of the state of New Jersey called the armpit of the world.
I never really knew why until the first time I drove through it, seeing the barren wastelands er – Meadowlands, I believe it they call it — complete with the all the oil tanks and power lines and gridlocked traffic from those trying to escape the state across the George Washington Bridge. I’ve learned you can go to New Jersey for free, but you have to pay to leave. I think that says a lot about the state, right there.
Over the past weekend, I got an even closer look at what a despicable, shameful state New Jersey has become.
On Saturday, I drove to Newark, N.J., to visit my mother, my step-father, my cousins and my Uncle David and his girlfriend, Mavis, both of whom had traveled from England to spend two weeks on a cruise to the tropics with their family. They picked Newark as a rallying point since the cruise ship was leaving from the Port of Bayonne.
Uncle David and Mavis arrived on Friday, settling in at the Double Tree Hilton near the Newark Liberty Airport. They spent all day Saturday in New York City until the rest of the family arrived. Thanks to a change in my work schedule, I made the road trip from my Connecticut home and was able to have dinner with the family — some of whom I hadn’t seen in decades.
It was nice. A few Guinness were tossed back, we broke bread, caught up with each other and even had a family photo taken by the concierge at the hotel.
The next morning I received word that somebody had broken into my Uncle David’s room and stolen all the cash they had on hand.
After we all arrived back at the hotel, and went out separate ways, it seems Uncle David couldn’t get his key to work. Upon being given a new one by the front desk, they had found their room had been rummaged through and the money was missing.
“You were right about Newark,” my mother told me the following morning.
We had actually foreshadowed such an event while sitting at dinner when one of my cousins said he was carrying his cash with him because their hotel room didn’t have a safe in it.
Another cousin told the story about while they were back home in the state of Maine they went to a restaurant and met a waiter from New Jersey, and when they told him they were going to Newark for a few days before the cruise the waiter told them, “Don’t look anybody in the eye.”
At dinner, I told my family Newark and Camden were probably the two worst cities in the state and, at least in Newark’s case, I was proven right.
What disappointed me the most, I suppose, was the reaction of the hotel — again, that’s the Double Tree Hilton, located at 128 Frontage Road, in Newark, N.J. It looks nice from the outside and the inside, but customer service isn’t a high priority.
When told off the robbery, the hotel’s manager persuaded my uncle not to call the police, saying “They won’t come out here for something like that. You’d have to go to the police station and spend all day filing out reports.” (All of a sudden it sounds like an inside job, no? — two elderly English tourists show up, check into a hotel and get robbed and the hotel manager doesn’t want to call the police?).
The manager, however, did offer my uncle and his friend two free breakfasts for the following morning.
It’s a shame my family wasn’t killed in one of their rooms. We might have gotten a free night or two out of the deal and the first round of drinks might have been on the hotel, too.
While the rooms didn’t have safes, the hotel did offer them a portable safe for the remainder of the trip — but warned the couple that if they lost the key, they would be charged an additional $250.
Needless to say, I will never stay a Double Tree hotel for the rest of my days. I will go out of my way to stay in a cardboard box before I would give them any of money. Their brand is dead to me and, as part of the Hilton family, I also refuse to acknowledge Paris Hilton as a celebrity anymore, as well.
So thank you New Jersey for being a piece of shit state and living up to your reputation. I know there must be some good people from the state, but how they can live there is beyond me. Cheap gas, I suppose, could be a draw.
And to my country, I can’t say I’m surprised by the treatment you showed my relatives from across the pond. We might be the world’s last remaining Super Power, but as a collective one, the United States of America is also the crime capital of the world, a place where a third-time marijuana user can go to jail for life, but a mentally ill person can walk into a school and start firing a legal purchased gun that can kill classrooms of children in just seconds.
And it’s a place where our visitors can be violated and robbed, but get two free breakfasts out of the deal.
Land of the Free, indeed.