Getting It Right
New Jersey … the Garden State … the place I call “home.” Unfortunately, many out-of-towners (maybe a large portion of this blog’s readership) are slightly misguided about my stomping grounds thanks to the media. Over the past few years, entertainment channels like E!, Bravo and MTV have peppered the airwaves with reality television programs that paint an unflattering picture of N.J. residents. (Think “Jerseylicious,” “The Real Housewives of New Jersey” and the now-defunct “Jersey Shore.”) Case in point: On a recent trip to Arizona, I grabbed some dinner at a local burger joint. I can’t remember the specifics, but during a brief conversation with the cashier, my residency was revealed. His response: “Are you like those Jersey Shore people?” Although my first instinct was to yell back: “Do I look like a cast member? Do you see the radioactive-looking tan and hair that reaches the sky?” Instead, I politely smiled and said, “No.”
The city of Camden would be another source of negative N.J. press. The word alone conjures up images of unthinkable crimes. Sadly, this is more accurate than the above scenario. Last year Camden saw a spike in its homicide record, exceeding 60 murders. Morale is low and the city’s decision to make drastic cuts to its police force isn’t helping matters. But, recently, I saw something that caught me off-guard.
On my daily commute to Promo Marketing’s office, I technically drive through Camden (on a major highway) to hop on the Ben Franklin Bridge. The other week, I glanced up as I approached the tollbooths and noticed a giant billboard. It said: “Say something nice about Camden.” That’s it—no frills, no long-winded gimmicky plea—just one sentence. It actually wasn’t a difficult task for me. My response? I completed my bachelor’s degree at Rutgers-Camden. The campus itself is safe, easily accessible and filled with some brilliant people.