June 22, 2024
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June 22, 2024
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It Wasn’t Just the Parking

In a previous column I related how Ellen and I settled in Teaneck near­ly 40 years ago because of the ample, easy, and free parking here as com­pared to Queens. Actually, that was not the whole story. The recent disastrous traffic nightmare on the George Washington Bridge (“the Bridge”) reminded me that there was another motivating factor for our move to Teaneck: the Bridge.

How so? Many, many years ago, probably in the early 1970s about six years B.C.* and two years B.M.** when Ellen and I were dating, we visited friends at a bungalow colony in the Catskills one fine summer Sunday. On the way back to our homes in Douglaston, Queens and New Hyde Park, LI late that afternoon, we encountered a monumental traffic jam on Route 4 heading toward the Bridge; I mean a total stand­still backed up to Teaneck, just like what happened at Bridge-gate. Ellen and my kids will attest that I am impatient and eas­ily irritated in general, and with traffic jams in particular. Even my grandkids know. For example, just this week my six-year-old granddaughter graduated kindergarten. After she ascer­tained that I would be showing up, she asked “Will you be pa­tient?” Really….I’m not making this up. Anyway, back to the story. As I munched on the steering wheel and fumed about the traffic, I noticed a sign on the side of the road near Belle Avenue that said “If You Lived Here, You’d Be Home.” (By the way, I think the Township leadership should resurrect that sign after the traffic mess).

The sign didn’t register at the time, but a few years lat­er when we were apartment hunting and were frustrated with the bad parking in Forest Hills, Ellen’s brother Ed and his wife Barbara suggested we consider moving to Teaneck. As I wrote previously, they confirmed to us that Teaneck had great parking and was an up-and-coming Jewish communi­ty. But I now recall what really sold me on Teaneck. Ellen and I had this conversation:

ELLEN: Eddie and Barb think we would like Teaneck. It has a really nice Jewish community, a bus that goes to the City, and there’s a kosher pizza place.

ME: What about the parking?

ELLEN: They say there’s plenty of free street parking, and no meters. And they think they can get us into their apartment complex.

ME: What’s the town’s name again?

ELLEN: Teaneck.

ME: Isn’t that the place with the sign that says “If You Lived Here, You’d Be Home”?

ELLEN: Yes. I think that’s the place.

ME: Oh, then let’s settle there! I hate Bridge traffic.

George’s Bridge Rules

Having lived in Teaneck for almost four decades, I am still obsessed by the Bridge. My life in many ways is structured around the Bridge and anticipated Bridge traf­fic. For example, for the last 15 years of my career, I com­muted to work on Wall Street by ferry from Weehawken. I typically took Route 4 East toward the Bridge, exiting at the last exit before the Bridge in Fort Lee and then taking local roads to Weehawken. I quickly learned that leaving Teaneck after 6:30 in the morning was fraught with potential Bridge traffic peril. So I starting leaving by 6, and usually arrived at work very early. One of my new colleagues asked my executive assistant this ques­tion: “Why does Mr. Friedman get to work so early?” To which she responded “The Bridge.”

Over the years, I have developed rules on when I will head to the Bridge, and when I won’t. Ellen thinks I just invoke the “No Bridge Today” rules whenever I don’t want to go to Queens or Long Island, but that’s not so! My rules are actually quite logical, and I don’t make it up as I go along. As a public service, I publish them here in the Link. They follow the secular calendar unless other­wise noted. Note that, as a general rule, I will not take the Bridge the afternoon before any Jewish holiday (well, may­be Tu b’Shvat):

Event Take the Bridge?

Martin Luther King Day Sure. Also includes any Sunday of a 3-day week­end

Presidents Day Nope

Easter Toss-up. Check the traffic reports

Mother’s Day Are you insane? Not happening

Memorial Day Yes.

Father’s Day Probably. Unless the Yankees are home

July 4th No, sir

Puerto Rico Day Parade No, señor

Israel Day Parade (sigh) Yes

Labor Day No, unless it’s an early in-and-out, hit-and-run drive-by visit

Thanksgiving What?? I would sooner host 25 people (which we do every year)

Christmas Not eve; yes day

Within 3 hours of a Yankee game No way. And I hope they lose

Within 3 hours of a Mets game Sure. What’s another 24 cars?

Any of those bike tour events Nope

So, there you have it, some simple rules to preserve your sanity. Maybe I’ll turn this into an app. Just enter when you plan to travel and the app advises you what to do, kind of like GPS with ESP…ESGPS anyone? And, keep this in mind: if my rules don’t work because there is an un­expected traffic mess, if you live in Teaneck you can turn around and be home!


* Before Children ** Before Marriage

George Friedman and his wife Ellen are members of Congregation Beth Aar­on, and have lived in Teaneck for 37 years. He sits on the Board of Arbitration Resolution Services, the world’s first completely online dispute resolution fo­rum, and has taught arbitration at Fordham Law School since 1996. He is also one of the co-owners of Lose-Win Situation.

By George H. Friedman

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