“There’s nothing to do”, my colleagues told me before my business trip to our IT Hub in Branchburg, New Jersey. They meant that there was nothing to do after I get back from work to the hotel.
I’m staying in Hyatt House and it is right across the road from the company parking lot. Fun fact: Even when I can see it from the office door, I have to use a car to get there. The “road” is in fact Interstate 22 and the other things my colleagues told me was: “Don’t try to cross the road unless you want to die.”
I don’t want to die just yet. However, “use a car” means in my case “get a ride”. Full disclosure: The last time I drove a car was when, at the age of 26, I successfully passed my driving exams. Not too long after that I spent 10 days in Norway, saving my nerves (and cash) hitchhiking. Why drive when you can always get a ride? Now however, 8 years older and in business casual, I don’t feel dressed for the occasion. I settle for hotel shuttle.
Arriving to the hotel, I remember: “There’s nothing to do.”
Before heading to my room, I check out the menu of the hotel restaurant. It turns out there are 13 main dishes on the menu. That’s three more than the number of nights I’m staying. I will have to make the tough choice and pick 3 meals that I will not try.
I order Korean Tacos (not aware of this meal’s existence until 3 minutes ago), glass of water and look for a place to sit. Ideally a table by the window. Then – I notice there are tables outside. It is about an hour before sunset and 24 degrees Celsius. I push the door open.
15 minutes later, the waitress (who introduces herself as Lea from Indonesia) brings me the tacos. They combine flour tortilla, avocado spread and sour cream with sweet chili sauce and grilled chicken meat. I realize plain water will not do them service. I order the closest they have to a stout, which is a beer called “Octoberfest”. How cute.
The sky just began changing colors. I look around. The table is on a small patio next to a swimming pool; the patio is surrounded by shiny green grass, flower beds with bushes and flowers, and quite a few trees. Between taco #1 and taco #2 something happens for the very first time in my life. A question pops in my mind: “I wonder how are these trees called?”
I take a bite from taco #2 and the sweet chili sauce, accompanied by crushed nuts falls off on the other side. The nuts roll off my palm; the sweet chili sauce sticks to my left palm. I don’t mind.
The air is filled with chirping of crickets. In fact, in order to get to “chirp”, I had to look up “the sound crickets make”. Or, to be completely honest, the very first thing I had to do was to Google Translate the Czech word “cvrček”. Along the way, I learned that “Crickets are named for the high-pitched sounds male specimens produce to attract females.” Isn’t that fascinating? Judging by the volume, tonight is a party night.
The atmosphere reminds me of my holidays Greece. Yes, the chirping. But there’s something more to this evening that makes me feel this way…
I know. It’s 5:57pm and Lea, a fan of Iron Maiden, brings me my bottle of Octoberfest. I grasp the cooled bottle with my sticky hand and take a sip.
There’s nothing to do.
And that’s a good thing.
Photo by Hossein Ghaem on Unsplash