Thursday, May 1, 2008

The Hoboken Experience

May 1, 2001

The day started off in a mundane way. I took the laundry in my little rolling cart to the Wash on Wash, the laundromat around the corner on Washington Street and did a few minutes on the elliptical and the upper-body machines at the gym across the street while the clothes finished the cycle. After the dry cycle I folded the clothes, put them in the cart, brought all home and sorted.

It was such a beautiful day that I decided to get lunch at some place with tables outside, which means just about any joint on Washington Street. I chose Vito's for a sandwich and enjoyed the crowd of guys placing orders as much as I did the sandwich. A sandwich here is a whole experience -- you can create your own by choosing from an array of ingredients they don't have in other places, certainly not in Alabama.

"Next!" says the guy behind the counter, and someone says "Tuna fish, roasted peppers and mutz on jabatta," then another "Next!" and "What's in a Sinatra?" "Soprozut, sun dried tomatoes, provolone and mutz." "What's soprozut?" "Kind of meat." "I'll take it." The sandwich makers have on black tee shirts with the Vito's logo on the front and "Best mutz in Hoboken" on the back. You get to choose from an assortment of spreads at the counter: olive, sun dried tomato, pesto, artichoke, whatever.

Soprozut is actually Soprasatto, an Italian sausage. For more on mutz, scroll through this blog and see my post. Lunch was tasty and ordering it was even better. I got a "Lizzie," which is a grilled panini with ham, provolone, and a few sun dried tomatoes on chiabatta ("Jabatta" above). It was chilly, but I sat outside anyway and read the book I had just gotten from the library.

On my way home I stopped in the little post office to buy a book of stamps.

The phone rang, and it was my friend Cristina offering to take me to Shop-Rite, the huge supermarket so far away I can't actually walk there. This will be my first trip to the famed Shop-Rite, so I agree and she meets me in her car in 45 minutes.

The market is awesome. Almost as big as Hoboken itself, and full of all the little things like a bottle brush like the one I didn't bring from Alabama and I have not been able to find anywhere. I am filling my cart, deciding I'll pay by credit card, when I discover that my wallet with credit cards is not in my bag. I put half the stuff back and have the cash to cover the items I do take home. I tell Cristina I am not worried, surely I left the wallet in my other jacket pocket or on the coffee table.

It is not there. Okay, let me mentally retrace my steps. I cannot remember where I had it last, but I know I went to the post office on Washington Street. On the way there I am making a list of all my cards and planning to call every company, every bank, and get my cards cancelled. It has not yet occured to me that the wallet contains my Medicare card, essential for getting reduced fares on everything here as well as the obvious, all my insurance cards, all my discount fare cards for transportation. I get to the window and wait impatiently for assistance.

"I was here today, and I'm looking for my wallet," I say to the young woman behind the counter."

Her face lights up. "Oh -- Adshead?" she says.

Yes, she found the wallet plus the two checkbooks that I also left on the counter when paying for the stamps.

"I gave them to a postman to deliver to you," she says, and recites my home address. "I put them in a Postal Service envelope. If they're not there this afternoon, they will be by tomorrow morning."

I have never been happier to be in Hoboken than I was yesterday. The envelope was in my mailbox.


Anonymous said...

Hmmmm, two checkbooks for a stamp? Happy days are here again.

More importantly. O just bought me a new Prius and it's got one of those key systems that runs on batteries. So, why doesn't some entrepreneurial sort invent a wallet and checkbook alert system that tell us old folks when those necessaries are not where we thought they were? A sort of GPS for the credit card holder?

Better yet, why not just robotize this whole experience, do away with birth trauma and death pangs, just wind us up and let us go. I can think of only one problem with this: robots are programmed like computers and are, therefore, absolutely rational. They never do anything just because it feels good. How could we ever live without our irrationalities? We need war and provolone cheese just as much or more than we need stamps and automobiles. Life without irrational behavior would not be life.

Elmer Gantry said...

Lucky you.

I'm surprised when things work this way anywhere, be it LA or Hoboken.

Nan said...

That's a great story; and one that should be yelled from the rooftops. All we hear is that the mail folks steal our Netflix movies, and play catch with our packages. And how perfect to be able to work out while the clothes are washing. A lovely slice of your life.