I think it’s kind of a bummer a state feels it must have a Be Nice To Us Week. Apparently, New Jersey, itself, did not originate this special commemoration. I did a little homework and found out that Lone Star Publications of Montgomery, Texas proposed it as a tongue-in-cheek salute.
After all, New Jersey has long been the butt of comedians’ jokes. We’ve been conditioned to react to New Jersey put-downs like this:
Q: Did you hear about the power outage at the Rider University Library?
A: Thirty students were stuck on the escalator for three hours.
To be fair, I suppose most states are the butts of jokes from people in their neighboring states. I can imagine Iowans spitting coffee on their computer keyboards when they read such jokes about Nebraska as:
Q: What do you call a Nebraskan who watches Fox News?
A: A CORNservative
The problem is that New Jersey is next door to the immensely famous New York City, one of the most media filled places on Earth. When New Yorkers dish about New Jersey, the whole world hears about it.
If New Jersey is one of the least popular states, California is consistently ranked as the most popular state. However, the Golden State still gets dissed by famous comedians. Even the founding fathers got cheap laughs at New Jersey’s expense. Benjamin Franklin once said, “New Jersey is like a barrel tapped at both ends.”
What’s the deal with New Jersey, anyway? Some experts say the state gets knocked because it is caught between two major metropolitan areas, Philadelphia and New York City. New Jersey might be regarded as their “country cousins”.
Many people, myself included, have passed through the state via the New Jersey Turnpike. This road leaves much to be desired due to the high traffic volume and unsightly scenery. I felt uneasy when I stopped in Newark and Camden. It didn’t help that the sky had an orange-grey overcast on the day of my visit.
Despite public perceptions, New Jersey actually has many positive aspects. Although NJ is the most densely populated state, the Garden State actually grows food crops. About 15-percent of New Jersey consists of bonafide farmland. The state ranks second in blueberry production, third in cranberries, number four in bell peppers, eighth in tomatoes, and tenth in sweet corn crops.
Most people don’t realize that New Jersey is the third wealthiest state in the Union. Telecommunications and pharmaceuticals top the list of thriving industries in the state.
New Jersey has had its share of famous people. Thomas Edison developed his light bulb in the state. Meryl Streep hails from Jersey, and Bruce Springsteen sings about the merits of New Jersey culture. It also turns out that New Jersey has fostered many renowned writers, especially some from Newark.
Even though New Jersey drivers are infamous for their rudeness, folks in the Garden State seem to be about as friendly and kind as people anywhere else. It doesn’t take too long to accustom oneself to their unique accent, either.
After you leave northern New Jersey and leave the turnpikes, the rest of the state has some fairly nice scenery. There are plenty of beautiful flowers in people’s yards and in the town squares. There are more trees than I expected, too.
I hope I have done more than my share of being nice to New Jersey, this week.