This Thursday marks the first anniversary of my visit to the beautiful city of Linden, New Jersey.
You need to spend some time there if you’ve never been. It’s so much fun. Whether passing through at 80 mph on the New Jersey Turnpike or browsing the aisles of adult toys and pornography at Love Boutique, Linden offers something for the whole family.
Just thinking about Linden inspires the creative part of a person’s brain, provided the creative part of a person’s brain isn’t much bigger than the part of the brain that tells you when to urinate. To wit:
Linden was where I had to deliver the stuff we wanted to take with us to New Zealand. Jacquie and I had spent weeks prioritizing. We could only afford to ship our most-valued Earthly possessions: 36 boxes of Jacquie’s shoes.
We hired two guys with a panel truck to drive the shoes to our freight consolidator.
It was 9:30 a.m. when we arrived at their warehouse.
A man in a forklift saw me coming. He immediately shut down his machine and climbed out. “Break time,” he said.
“How long?” I said.
“Hour, two hours.”
“My guys are on the clock here.”
There was a man at a desk in the middle of the warehouse floor. He waved me over. He was short and wore a shiny Jheri curl wig. He said his name was Alan. He seemed really sympathetic.
“Where’s your stuff headed, buddy?” he said. “You got your booking number?”
“I sure do, Alan,” I said.
I handed Alan my documents. He inspected them, nodded, dropped them on his desk, sat down and opened a drawer out of which he took out a large salad. The salad was one of those pre-made things you buy at the supermarket and it was filled with the more pointless vegetables, like iceberg lettuce. “Break time,” Alan said.
He enjoyed his salad.
“What about my boxes?” I said.
“How do you like that, Alan?” said the forklift guy. “It’s your break, but it’s his boxes. Can you believe he’s making you work on your break?”
“No, I cannot believe it,” Alan said. “I myself have trouble believing this.”
Alan wore glasses and had shiny green skin and his Jheri curl wig did not move in concert with his terrible head. “Fine,” he said. “Have your guys unload your truck. How many pallets will you need?”
“Do I need pallets?” I said.
“It’s for your own protection,” he said. “You want your things to get there in one piece, is all I’m saying.”
Did I mention that Linden is the world capital of spontaneous, small-time extortion?
“How much is a pallet?” I said.
“Let’s say I make it $25 each,” he said.
So I paid for three pallets and that was that.
And later I went to East Rutherford to pay for the freight and I had a very disappointing slice of pizza near the railroad station.