If you’ve been paying attention to this blog, and I know you have, you know I currently work in Life Insurance. I work in Chicago, a primarily new market for our New York-based company. My superiors thought I would benefit from some training in our NYC office because I would meet the folks who have been doing this for a number of years and I could really see how they get things done. So, a free trip to NYC, staying at Sheraton Towers and Hotel for a week (just blocks from Times Square), and learning some best practices so I can become a stronger asset to the company. Sounds like a pretty good week, right? Well, one tragically unexpected thing occurred; I was to spend one full day in our Newark, NJ office because our trainer had some things to take care of in that office. This was not planned ahead of time, and it certainly wasn’t the news I wanted to hear at 5:30pm on a Tuesday. I spent the next day in that hell, not fully prepared to take it all in. The day, overall, was a wash because no real training went on, but I had some free time to absorb my environment.
Below is the actual correspondence via text message between me and a friend I hold in the highest regard in March, 2008. Cleaned up for formatting and punctuation.
Me 1:16pm: Newark is the shit!
Zack 1:21pm: Where is that? Is that Newark?
Zack 1:23pm: Good god! It is Newark! I recognize the filth!
Me 1:32pm: This place is awful. Dregs of humanity prowl the streets. I heard they just got Snapple here.
Me 1:34pm: 12 stories up!
Zack 1:38pm: Good lord! What a vile hole of festering spew! Where are they sending you next? Dover? Good god not Dover!
Me 2:08pm: If I have to go to Dover I will quit immediately and walk home. This is bad enough!
Zack 2:09pm: Damn straight! You’re a human being, goddammit! There’s only so much you can be expected to deal with.
Me 2:20pm: This place is of the devil. How mankind dares thrive here is anyones guess. Persistence of the foolish and retarded perhaps.
Zack 2:43pm: That sounds about right. Any serious amount of time spent in Newark renders you that way irreversibly. Get out while you’re not retarded!
Me2:50pm: I’m here until 6. I hope I make it! I was starting to think about watching NASCAR this wekend. What’s next, stop bathing!? Throw out books?! Make Steak-Umms?!
Zack2:55pm: Bah! Horrible! The influence of that shithole may not be evident in your brain for years. But if you start talking about volunteering for the Nader for President campaign, I swear I’ll shoot you.
Me3:42pm: This is murder. I’ve been to ghettoes that look like Six Flags compared to this place!
Zack 3:47pm: I’ll bet they didn’t pitch this trip to you with the caveat that you’d get to visit Newark! You should bomb your work when you get back!
Me 3:54pm: For the sake of mankind I should bomb Newark Fucking New Jersey! God. Plus its been a totally meaningless work day. Unproductive. This sucks!
Me 4:21pm: Oh god no
I think their biggest exhibit is a dog skeleton collection.
Zack 4:26pm: Ha! Jesus Christ! I wouldn’t be surprised. What a disaster that town is. Better get out while you still can!
Me 4:33pm: I saw a homeless man walking a pig on a leash!
Moments after that message was sent, I managed to find a way out and get back to NYC in one piece. Zack heard nothing of my fate until the next morning.
Me8:30am Thu Mar 13: Made it safely back to NY but my clothes still smell like ham and burnt hair. Fuckin Newark.
Zack 9:46am: Thank god you made it. You are of the lucky ones. If they make you go back, go in a tank, take some of that town with you!
Me 10:42am: I’m never going back. God no.
I recommend you absolutely stay the hell away from Newark, NJ. You’ve got too much to live for to go headfirst into one of the worst places on the face of the Earth. My adventure was tame, but a torture to endure. You do not have to face what I did. The text and pictures messages do not tell the whole story. I cannot reveal the whole truth because you do not want to know.
This is your warning.