Stay Classy, New Jersey–on Groundhog Day

bottle on sidewalk

“Pink Zinfandel on Snow,” photo by E. Herd

Groundhog Day started out well enough: Lorin and I shoveled out the driveway, then dug out the cars–no sweat. Lorin drove to the bus stop at 7 a.m., but there were no buses running and the sidewalks were mountains of snow. He came back home, waited with me till 8, and then we drove together to the usual parking lot, directly behind the bus stop, where we bus commuters leave our cars. A snow plow was cleaning it out. We ventured on to ShopRite, since a fellow bus rider told me she leaves her car there sometimes, and no one complains. We parked and started exiting the car, when a middle-aged man in a cream pullover and stiff salt and pepper coif came out of W Construction Company. “W” shares the strip mall with ShopRite, a bagel store, Boiling Springs Savings Bank, a Dry Cleaners and a couple other stores.

The man shouted, “You think you’re gonna leave your car there all day while you’re at work?”

Lorin shouted back, “That’s the general idea.”

“Well, you better not, or it’s gonna be towed!” His tone was less than pleasant.

“Where are we supposed to go?” Lorin said.

“Not my problem,” he said, maintaining the Good Samaritan vibe.

Stay Classy, New Jersey.

“Thank you, sir,” Lorin said, crossing his hands over his heart, “you have a big heart.”

The guy stood there, staring at us.

“Go fuck yourself!” I shouted, “Fuck you!”

We walked back toward the car.

“I’m sorry, I can’t take it anymore,” I said to Lorin.

It was now 8:13 and it was sleeting. We drove back to our usual parking lot. The snow plow driver rolled down his window.

Lorin said, “Can we park here? We park here with a bunch of other commuters every day.”

The guy said, “Well, I just got a call from ShopRite, and they said if anyone parks here, their car will get towed.”

“Oh,” Lorin said. “Thanks for letting us know.”

I said to Lorin, “I bet that asshole from the construction company called ShopRite. What can they do—ban us from all the parking lots?”

We parked on a side street—nowhere left to go. This town doesn’t make it easy for the working slobs. The sidewalks weren’t cleared off, so we waited for a bus in the street, the sleet mercilessly pelting our faces.

On to the groundhog, since it was his day, after all. Did you know that New Jersey has three of its own furry prognosticators? They are: (1) Midtown Mel, (2) Essex Ed and (3) Stonewall Jackson. Sound like racehorses more than soothsayers, but hey.

Here are their predictions:

Midtown Mel
“Six more weeks of winter,” said Jerry Guthlein, spokesman and handler for Mel, hailing from Middlesex County.

midtown mel

Stonewall Jackson of Sussex county looked for his shadow on Monday, but there was none to be found.

“So I guess in theory, it’s going to be an early spring,” said Assemblyman Parker Space, owner of Space Farms. “You wouldn’t think it to look outside.”

The current Stonewall has been making predictions for 3 or 4 years, with about 75% accuracy.


photo courtesy of Parker Space

Essex Ed, resident groundhog at Turtle Back Zoo in West Orange, like Mel, predicted another six weeks of winter. Oh, Ed! Zoo director Brint Spencer unfurled the scroll showing his prediction.

Essex Ed

The groundhogs have spoken. Punxatawney Phil says six more blasted weeks of winter too. Let’s all try to make the best of it, in spite of the self-designated “parking police” and other assorted assholes.