Tag Archives: New Jersey

From Simple Power Outage to Mall Shooting

The other night I was at the Livingston Mall returning a handful of Christmas gifts when the lights went out. At first, everyone thought it was a momentary outage and continued on their way. I happened to be in H&M and was heading for the exit when I decided maybe I should stay put until the lights came back on. It could only be a matter of moments, right? Wrong.

I waited near the store’s entrance for about five minutes, fidgeting with my phone, looking through what else I had to return and which store I’d head to next. People didn’t seem too discouraged by the lights being out; they pulled out their phones or pocket flashlights  to light their way as they continued shopping.

Initially, I wasn’t fazed by the blackout and figured I would keep on shopping like everyone else. That changed quickly as my mind suddenly reverted back to the recent mall shootings in Oregon and Newport Beach after the lights still hadn’t come back on. Then I got scared. What if someone cut the power and was running through the mall with a gun, targeting holiday shoppers? It was a busy time of year, the mall was packed and crazier things have happened. I decided it was time to leave.

I headed to the nearest exit where my car was parked when I noticed Macy’s was closing its door gates. It seemed strange that they were essentially locking down the store to shoppers which made me even more anxious to get out. Luckily, they were letting customers out (just not in) and I made it safely to my car.

Getting out of the parking lot was horrendous but I knew I was likely safer in my car than the mall. Why did I need to be in a dark mall anyway – there was no power – I couldn’t purchase or return anything, and it was pitch black? As I drove home, I saw at least 10 first responders, from ambulances to firemen to police, speeding toward the mall, igniting my curiosity. I felt anxious, wondering if something was really going down or if the recent craziness of our society made me think a simple power outage was something much more dramatic.

Turns out a transformer blew and the mall closed for two days. There was no shooting, no imminent danger, just loss of power. I felt silly thinking it was something grander and more grotesque than the loss of power, but honestly, going anywhere these days sometimes makes me think twice. With school shootings, movie theater murders and people being gunned down at shopping malls, these type of assumptions are sadly becoming the norm.

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Lotto Fever

Lotto fever is on! In all my years of playing (and losing), I have never seen as much love for the lottery as I did today.

While I don’t expect to win the office pool I’m a part of,  off the individual tickets my husband and I bought, or from numbers that belong to my immediate family, I am loving the vibe the biggest Mega Millions jackpot in history is giving off.

I have stood on numerous lines waiting to buy tickets in both New York and New Jersey in hopes of winning the coveted $640+ million jackpot. I made friends at the bodega while waiting to get my numbers. I chatted more with the grocery clerk than I have all year discussing the madness. And I probably spoke to more people about winning the lotto and what I’d do with the money in my 1,000+ person New York City office than I have in the two years I have worked in the building.

At 11:05pm, I don’t expect to be calling my family telling them I won the lottery. And while I’ll be a little disappointed that I still have to go to work on Monday and won’t be buying a private plane to take me and my entourage on a celebratory vacation full of champagne and palm trees, I  am digging all the craziness, all the press, and all the comradery that’s been built because of this ridiculously large jackpot that one random person is likely to win in mere moments!

Here’s to more than half a billion! Good luck to us all! It only cost me like $60 a and a dream.

Classmates Shouldn’t Drive You To Kill Yourself

I’m really disturbed by the Tyler Clementi story. Tyler is the Rutgers University freshman who jumped off the George Washington Bridge and killed himself because his college roommate, Dhaurn Ravi, videotaped him having sex with another male and broadcast it online with the help of friend Molly Wei.

It’s so sad that people would do this to another human being; humiliate and embarrass a peer like that. Was your life that uninteresting that you had to tape someone else’s sexual encounters? Did you really have nothing better to do? Was this supposed to make you look cool to your friends? Or maybe you wanted to make sure that no one thought you were gay too?

Whatever the reasons, it was wrong, and disgusting. And the fact that someone lost their life in the process makes the whole thing even more dreadful. Even if Tyler chose not to take his own life, this was a deceitful, sadistic act. I hope you both rot in jail.

When I was in school, people teased one another, we all did things we weren’t proud of, physical violence even came into play, but I don’t remember ever feeling so degraded or humiliated that I wanted to end my own life.

These days, going to school, growing up and dating all seem so much harder than when I was younger. I know I am showing my age here, but seriously, you shouldn’t be tormented by bastards and bullies while trying to get an education, meet new people and become a better person.

Throughout our existence, we’ll always encounter people who want to make our lives more difficult for no good reason. When those people get you down, think about Tyler Clementi and the countless other young people who died too soon because of public ridicule. And for those causing the pain, think of those you’re hurting and what the consequences may be. Life is far too great to take it away from others, or yourself.

Hey Cabbie, Stop Texting and Take Me Home

I have already written about texting and driving. Remember the story I told you last summer? The one with the guy who ran out of his car after slamming into us, declaring, “I’m sorry, I was texting!”

I think people have come a long way since last summer. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still screaming at people when I see them texting and driving, but thankfully, there are more people on headsets and more awareness about the issue.

What I have noticed recently is that in Hoboken, cab drivers are relentlessly texting and driving. Does city hall know about this? Don’t they run the taxi operation or something? Well they should, because in the last two weeks, on two separate occasions, I have literally had to ask each cab driver to refrain from using their cell phone to concentrate on the road.

I am usually met with a “WTF” look, but they oblige. Then we get into a conversation about the seriousness of texting while on the road (or they ignore me), and as soon as I’m dropped off, they’re back at it.

Hey, I have no control over what you do in your own car (or cab), even though it can affect the lives of my friends and family, but I can make you stop while you’re driving me, especially if I’m paying you.

One cabbie told me that his biggest issue is when people text and walk. Can you believe that texting and walking is now dangerous? Hey, I was with him. So many people don’t pay attention to the road and walk blindly into the middle of the street because they are so busy sending messages, tweeting, or whatever it is they’re doing.

But seriously, if you’re gonna talk the talk, walk the walk. Put your phone down, concentrate on the road and maybe, just maybe, you’ll get us from point A to point B in one piece, and I’ll give you a better tip.

What’s Up with the NJ State Department of Labor?

It’s only noon and I have already had one of those days…

 

Just today, I went to a scheduled unemployment orientation order by the State of NJ Department of Labor. I called to confirm my appointment a few weeks, as I had received two different dates in the mail. I was told by a staffer that I must attend both or I would lose my benefits. Seemed odd to me, since it was the same class, but hey, when the government says they’ll take away your money if you don’t do something, you do it. When I got to the office, it was closed and the class was cancelled. Apparently furloughs have taken effect and I wasn’t the only person who didn’t get notified. If I hadn’t shown up though, would they have cancelled my benefits? 

 

To top off this pleasant experience, I was recently informed that my social security number, among other personal information (which I have worked hard to protect), has been potentially compromised due to errors at the Department of Labor. It may have been sent to employers that really weren’t my employers. Seriously? My state government can’t even keep records straight and private?

 

What do I pay taxes for?