Posts Tagged Philadelphia

Driving in the 215

Last year I drove at least 40,000 miles insufferable miles in California. Probably triple of the average person driving in Eastern Pennsylvania. In fact, when you factor in my air miles I’m probably responsible for a 2.5% of the Texas-sized hole in the Ozone Layer. Cut to the quick — I know my way behind the wheel and on the road. Like water I pride myself on getting places.

Presidents or not, don't bother looking for these in the 215

But one month back in the Philadelphia area and I need to be a good citizen and forewarn would-be visitors to get your Garmins now or stay put. Street signs here are nearly non-existent.  And if they exist at all, they’re likely behind a hugely overgrown tree — that you need to pass (along with the actual turn) in order to see the sign.

I think they want you to feel lost so you’ll make your way back to New Jersey or New York and leave the Liberty Bell for those truly committed to finding it.  I’ve resigned myself to driving aimlessly but very aggressively through the many “76” highways here that seem to intertwine like two snakes French kissing. I think the boorishness of my driving is welcomed. Text messaging while driving is kind of treated like pot is in Amsterdam — we know you’re going to do it, just do it here.

In fact, with the lack of a helmet law I almost feel like the governor is encouraging motorcyclists to make calls like to local friends asking: “What the hell is the blue route? Is that the 276?”

– Jose Mallabo

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Peace to the station wagon

I visited a friend and neighbor of mine in the hospital yesterday.

Driving away, I couldn’t quite put my finger on what that sojourn through the hospital was like. Having not been in one since I was wheeled out after leg surgery several years ago, I’d forgotten how ominous, humbling and flat out awesome hospitals can be. By awesome I mean it in its literal sense, not in the Mountain Dew sense.

Everything there is beyond a typical person’s comprehension.


You see it in people’s faces and their demeanor. No one is putting on airs. No one is needlessly text messaging plans for dinner. And the doctor doesn’t give a crap if you came in on the bus or behind the wheel of a BMW 740.

People there are actually in the moment – forced by the gravity of whatever brought them there – and arguably better, more urbane human beings for it.

Whether you’re there to visit a newborn or bid adieu to a loved one, it’s a place – maybe one of the only places I know of – where status, wealth and ego mean absolutely nothing.

By the time I got home I figured it out. That hour in the hospital – absorbing all that was around me – there was a sense of peace that was oddly comforting to me. Like, dropping all the concerns of daily life, stresses of work and the weight of having to be in control of it all was OK. It was OK to be small and humbled by the life and death situations going on all around you.

The Vista Cruiser: Great Sunday driver, proven girl repellent

The Vista Cruiser: Great Sunday driver, proven girl repellent

And the only thing it brought me back to…was the walk from Sunday mass with my family to our used-to-be cool wood-paneled station wagon parked across the street. In that 4 to 5 minute stroll after a sermon that was to me the voice of God, I always felt alright and unconcerned about the material stresses of the day. I always felt at peace with just being a small speck of carbon on the planet.

If only those moments weren’t so fleeting.

Wishing you a speedy and full recovery, Joe. I miss our talks about Philadelphia sports, Penn State football, mortgages and the stock market.

– Jose Mallabo

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