The plan was simple- leave mom’s house before 9AM and drive straight to work, leaving a couple of hours of grace period in case of bad traffic. Everything was smooth sailing until I got to Interstate 80- a roadside flashing sign indicated that the entire highway was closed at exit 30 in New Jersey due to an overturned tractor-trailer. The road had been closed from before rush hour, and I found this out around 1:30PM. I crossed into Jersey at the Delaware Water Gap and stopped at the Information Center a few miles into the state. That’s where I met HER... I grabbed a road map and, like everyone else, conferred with her about bypassing this 100% blockage of a major traffic artery. She went over the route with me: get off I80 at the exit for State Route 206 northbound, then turn onto Sussex County Route 517 northbound, then exit at State Route 23 southbound (which is a southeasterly route), and take it to Interstate 287 northbound to 87 east and the Tappan Zee Bridge.
I thanked her, and complimented her on her graciousness and good humor. She was being put through her paces on a rough day, and her charm and élan never faltered. In retrospect, I should have gotten her name so I could write a letter to the NJDoT. Besides providing information, she provided me with the Call to Adventure (if not the Lady of the Lake, she was the Lady of Lakehurst). I found myself on meandering rural roadways snaking through the hills of northern Jersey, suddenly traversing quaint hamlets thick with antique shops. If I hadn’t have been constrained timewise, I might have played the tourist in this region which, somewhat disconcertingly, was within range of my radio presets.
I made it through Jersey Rurality and emerged onto familiar roadways, right around the time that a single lane of I80 was opened. The imparted wisdom of the patient, good-humored Jersey Girl has won me through, and I arrived on the job with plenty of time to spare.