It’s been eighteen days since the last episode of getting lost, that is if you don’t count losing your car in parking garages or missing an exit due to traffic, neither of which count in my book. After more than one occasion of wandering for over an hour through the parking ramps and in once case between two different garages before finding my car I’ve learned to be very careful when leaving a parking garage. I take note of the floor and row, any color clues, the names of the intersecting streets when I exit, and I learned the hard way that it’s not worth the effort to remember the make or model of the cars parked next to you.
I’m leery of the facilities that require you to bring your ticket with and pay before you pick up your car. What happens to people who are unable to find their vehicle and exit the garage before the allotted time has expired? Nonetheless they are a necessary evil and sometimes the only option if you’re running late for the train and the street level parking lot is full.
One of the many changes in my life since moving to the East Coast from the Midwest is that in addition to Google Directions and MapQuest I also have the Pennsylvania and New Jersey train schedules pinned to my bookmark toolbar and I think about travel in terms of train stops and not rest stops. The mass transit systems that connect cities along the coast make it easy to meet a friend for lunch or dinner without having to fight traffic or worry about getting lost.
When I learned that a colleague from Nebraska is now working in Edison, New Jersey a few times a month I immediately checked the train schedules and suggested we meet for lunch. We set the date and time and confirmed the meeting spot not once, but twice.
My train arrived promptly at 11:48 am and I weaved my way through the commuters to the parking lot. The only cars that were waiting for passengers were a line of taxi cabs and a rusted red four door. Thankful that it was sunny and warm I sat on a picnic bench and tried to relax to the heavy sound of rap pounding the air from one of the houses along the track.
At 11:56 am my email alert dinged and I checked my iPad.
“In silver car outside door,” he wrote.
I glanced at the lot, “I don’t see you.”
“Call me,” he replied.
Forty minutes, eight emails, and three phone calls later we figured out where we had gone wrong and were on our way to lunch (who knew there was more than one train station in Edison, NJ). We Yelped for restaurants based on our location and decided on a place with Indian cuisine; it had a four star rating and was purported to be “delicious.” We found it nestled in next to a nail salon and the sign outside supported it’s delicious review. The décor consisted of a few chairs, a counter, and an empty bench.
We were greeted by the man behind the counter, “Take out only.”
In spite of our laughter and efforts to find the restaurant recommended on our way out the door it seemed that it would remain a mystery. Instead we opted for Italian cuisine and agreed that if it didn’t work out the bowling alley located a few doors down would be the backup plan. I’m not sure what was more odd, the authentic and elegant décor behind the door at the end of the strip mall, the beautiful presentation of food, or the snippets of the blue tooth conversation from the table next to us.
“You do that, I swear I’ll kill ya. Nah really, I’m just kidding.”
On that note, we made our exit and I soon was homeward bound courtesy of New Jersey Transit. Safely at the train station, I retraced my steps to the carefully noted intersection only to find the door to the stairwell was locked.
I took a deep breath and followed the signs to the pay station behind the pink column, found my way to the stairwell and located my car in more time than it should have taken but without the assistance of parking lot security so I’m calling it a victory and the counter for days without getting lost will flip to nineteen.