A Commuter’s Lament: ‘Does the Person Who Runs NJT Ever Take NJT?’


“My 94-year-old mom could outrun this train.”

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The following travelogue/essay was posted to social media by Ellen Seidman — a writer, editor and mother of three based in Maplewood, NJ — following a recent weekday evening trip home from New York Penn Station on the Midtown Direct to Dover train. NJ Transit announced ongoing delays for the foreseeable future in December due to repair work. This essay is published here with Seidman’s consent.

The 6:50 from Penn arrived at 6:55 and is boarding now. So there’s that.

UPDATE: 7:04 and we are moving.

UPDATE: We are in NJ! This calls for a celebration! Too bad there’s no beverage car. Or, all too frequently, actual transit!

UPDATE: Slowed to a crawl!

7:19: Arrived at Secaucus. Nobody has had the gall to ask for tickets. Yet.

7:22: Ate a Lifesaver of dubious age I found in my bag but still optimistic that I will arrive in Maplewood before dawn breaks, because that is how I roll. Unlike NJ Transit, which does not roll.

7:30: Pondering the meaning of life and other deep thoughts as we inch toward Newark. Thanks for this quality time with myself, NJT.

7:33: My 94-year-old mom could outrun this train.

7:35: Does the person who runs NJT ever take NJT?

7:38: Newark!!! Where is the marching band?

7:42: Brick Church, here we come! Someday. Wouldn’t it be so fun if we had a little dance party in the quiet car? Anyone? I’ve got a 70’s Spotify playlist!

7:45: Brick Church! Feeling giddy!

The end is near!

7:50: I was thinking that if a conductor asked for a ticket I would take a stand and refuse but good thing no conductor has showed up as I would hate to be the person who made this train come to a standstill when the conductor called the NJ Transit police. Or would the regular police show up? Actually, chances are this train would already be at a standstill. Also: How mortified would my teens be if my arrest made headlines? Send help.

7:57: I have always thought that I could make a killing by bottling NYC tap water and selling it to NJ commuters at Penn for $1 a bottle. NY water blows NJ water away. My family does not share my vision but maybe you guys do? In other news, we just passed Mountain Station.

8:01: Picturing my family sitting in our cozy, warmly-lit living room and laughing. I have reached the self-pity stage.

8:02: But if I’m being honest they are all glued to their iDevices and ignoring each other.

8:04: Maplewood has never looked so lovely. Where’s my “I survived another NJ Transit trip” t-shirt?

Beaming good vibes at all of you still making your way home! There is light at the end of the tunnel!

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