(Not) so hard to say goodbye

It took me forever to leave Brooklyn.

That’s only partially an exaggeration.

As soon as I decided the Long Island City Goodwill didn’t NEED my donation, and I could find literally any other Goodwill on my route, a weight the tonnage of all of the delivery trucks creeping along Van Dam St. lifted off my chest. But then, Brooklyn.

Google Maps wanted me to take the Holland Tunnel out of the city and insisted I drive all over Brooklyn in order to do so. I wanted to take the Verrazzano. I jumped at the first sign advertising the BQE to Staten Island. Did you know the toll on the Verrazzano goes both ways? I thought the toll was only for people coming *into* NYC, but apparently not, since I handed $16 to someone who told me I had a nice smile.

Google Maps said, “Welcome to New Jersey,” and I’d never, ever been so happy to hear those words.

Jersey was predictably strange: ten minutes on the Turnpike I saw a sign advertising Popeyes and knew immediately that’s what would help me think — a spicy chicken two-piece and a biscuit. While in line for said biscuit, and debating with myself over sides, a trucker indicated his beverage of choice to me. I showed mild interest, as you do to strangers who seem harmless, and before I knew it, we were chatting (rather, he was chatting) about eating habits on the road. Did you know the restaurants that used to allow trucks with tractor-trailers in their parking lots no longer really exist? They’ve been overtaken by fast-food truck stops like the one where we both stood. Makes it difficult to eat well on even short hauls. Most times, he told me, he replaces meat with portobello mushrooms, and lately, he’s been on a serious grilled asparagus trip. He grows bell peppers in his garden, and enjoys a medley of grilled or sauteed vegetables when he’s home and cooking for himself.

I asked if he does a lot of long hauls, or if he’s mostly a regional trucker. He’s from Indiana, he said, and typically sticks to regional, but something (I didn’t hear him) took him into New Jersey this time.

My food was ready. I paid for it and found a table next to a window. If he’d passed me, I’d have invited him to sit down — it must get lonely on the road, and I can imagine it’s nice to talk to people from time to time. But, he didn’t. So I went ahead and fixed my route, avoiding the Turnpike, and had my breakfast.


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