You can’t stand in the way of progress

In New Jersey, the NJ Dept of Transportation has already started working on the widening of the NJ Turnpike.  The Turnpike itself has separate bus/truck and car lanes, but southbound at exit 8a, they all merge.  The merge causes huge traffic problems as everyone who can’t can’t drive slows down to a crawl.  Many times on the weekend, the backup will stretch all the way to exit 9 and northwards. It basically sucks. Many times on the way home on a Friday evening, the traffic is bad, and I’ll jump off at an earlier exit, but so has everyone else.  This results in me being mired in traffic on the local roads.

So, some time ago, the DOT and NJ finally approved a plan to widen the Turnpike all the way to exit 6.  This gets the southbound drivers a better shot as they make their way to 7a (Jackson and Great Adventure), 7, and exit 6 (the PA Turnpike.) Sounds like a win-win, eh?

Progress isn’t good for everybody.  On our exit, they are also moving the toll plaza.  As a result of the plan, and the need for space for this long-term construction plan, they’ve flattened and paved a large area of green pastures.  They’ve also bought out nearby homes to make room.  I can tell, because their decks/porches are ripped away, and the lawns are gone. 

This past Wednesday, I needed to get oil changes for both of our cars, as we were way past due. In the past, I’ve taken it to the local Exxon gas station and mechanic shop.  In 2006-2008, I used to get all my car work done there, which included oil changes and all that engine work and windshield replacement on the old Honda Accord.  I spent many times walking in and out of Exxon station, spending gobs of money there on the Honda.  The station manager was an Indian man named Nathan — an older Indian man in this sixties who has done various jobs in the past, but now working here.

After a lot of engine work done on the Honda in 2007 and 2008, but without any real improvement, I got annoyed and stopped going to the Exxon station.  Nathan would call me every so often, sounding a little lonely, wonderingf if I would be coming in for any work.  I guess he was hurting for some business, but I was still too annoyed. Too many mechanics in and out, and none could solve my problems.

Back to this week — I needed a fast oil change, and I figured it couldn’t hurt to try the Exxon, and throw them some business.  It’s close, and I didn’t want to be away from work too long in the afternoon. I saw Nathan, who was looking very haggard and slow. He got the mechanic to stay a little longer past quiting time to do my oil change.  Nathan then told me that the station would be closing in two days, on Oct 1st.  The NJ DOT had purchased the land on the station, as they needed the additional space next to their staging area.  Wow.

Nathan mentioned that he and the rest of the mechanics were out of jobs in two days, and had nothing lined up. Now I knew why this guy was depressed.  I felt bad, as Nathan (and the mechanics) couldn’t afford to be out of work.  Heck, none of us can these days.  Nothing lined either. Tough break. Progress is great, but you don’t always think about all the repercussions, and how not everyone may benefit. Much like the robots added to assembly lines, or the Internet affecting brick-and-mortar stores.

Our Exxon gas station will be no more

Our Exxon gas station will be no more

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2 Responses to You can’t stand in the way of progress

  1. AJ says:

    ummm – why not buy up another exxon? in the area … or not.

  2. Joel says:

    Well, the Exxon owners could do whatever they wanted, but it seems like they were just taking the NJ DOT money and running. It was more of a question about what the employees were going to do, since they had no options on the horizon at this point.

    I felt bad for the manager, because he seemed despondent. He had to be in his sixties, can’t afford to be out of work for any extended period of time, and wasn’t finding anything decent. He said he looked around through Exxon, but most options were run-down places that he would have to try to build up a business again. He didn’t seem too thrilled.

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