Wednesday, August 3, 2011


* We're driving into the Lincoln Tunnel. There are always cops there protecting against suicide bombers and the like. They usually pay no attention to anyone. Today, a female cop quickly takes three steps towards the van and waves at us. She then goes back to where she was standing.

"It must be my sideburns," Charlie says.

* We're in the city. We drive past a woman pushing a giant water cooler bottle.

Charlie points her out.

"Don't talk about her jugs like that," Barbara says. "It's unbecomming of you."

* Barbara's hair is down and is very frazzled looking.

"She looks like a witch," Christina says after Barbara leaves.

Christina claims Barbara recently shoved her when they were both trying to board the van.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

What's Up, Mommy?

* The inter-machinations of the Montville School District is the topic of the day. It appears many on The Vanpool are fond of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.

"I guess our thug teacher's union didn't like the new principal," one guy said about the deposed leader of a particular elementary school.

"I heard rumors to that effect," one other man confirmed.

* Barbara is taking up two seats today. She's carrying with her an overstuffed Lord & Taylor shopping back filled with a pink pillow.

* We pull up to the red light to get the newspapers. Roland starts talking to us.

"You know what sucks," he asks. "People tell us to stay cool. How you gonna stay cool on a day like this?"

"We have to go," Barbara says. "We can make the light!"

We end up not making the light.

"What you don't want to talk to Roland? That's okay, Mommy. Because I want to talk to you," Roland says as we drive off.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Avon Calling

* Scandal once again erupted as Barbara "forgot" to hand the collected money forward. Jennifer's 10-year-old daughter also rode The Van today (some sort of Take Your Daughter to Work thing) and Barbara tried to make her pay. Charlie, however, waved his $6 fee.

* We pick up the newspapers and Roland comes to the car.

"Hey, ladies, tomorrow I'm going to be selling some boxes of Avon," he says. "So make sure you bring some money--"

Right as he ends his spiel, the person getting out at the corner slams the door right in his face.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Hey Baby

* We get the newspapers from Roland, who is now wearing a Bluetooth headset. He leans into the van and asks us how we're doing. Then a lady walks past.

"Hey, baby," he shouts at her.

"I gets all the ladies," he says to us. "Do any of you people need some quick lovin'?"

He then opens the side panel of the van. Barbara is the first person he sees.

"You, baby," he says. "You're the one I want. I could definitely love you."

He then kisses her hand.

"Don't tell your husband about that."

Tuesday, May 24, 2011


* Barbara has a shopping bag with her. This is not uncommon. However, it is filled to the brim with husks of corn. She does not explain why. No one asks.

* The man who hands us newspapers is not there. We ask the girl who looks like Precious why. "He just took off his apron and ran away," she says.

* The Van is completely quiet. Finally, someone up front says, "What is it about Belgium that gives them the ability to make such terrific waffles?" Everyone then discusses their favorite waffle toppings for a few minutes.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

End Times

* The man who hands us the newspapers in the morning's name is Roland, which is not what I was expecting.

This morning, we're stuck at a red light up the block from where he hands us the papers. He leans into the window. The light turns green and he tells us to take him to the corner. He then holds onto the window and surfs the van back to the corner (not quite as extreme as Teen Wolf but not too far away), going "WOOOOOOOAHHHH" the entire way.

* A woman I've only seen once or twice before is on today. She turns to the back to another semi-regular.

"You asked me what I've been up to since the last time you saw me," she says. "Well, I don't know how to tell you this on the van. So I'll tell you the next time I see you."

* The internal machinations of Morris County, NJ country clubs is also widely discussed. One man, in particular, talks at length about issues he had with the manager of a local club.

"She once told me that me and my boys couldn't go swimming during a certain hour. But I looked at the club bylaws and let the board know she was violating them. But they didn't care."

He then brings up at least four experiences where he had to cite country club bylaws to the board of trustees, and the never cared.

* The May 21 End Days prophecies are another major topic of discussion.

I haven't heard much about the May 21 prophecies and ask what they're about. People then explain it to me.

"Don't worry, Gregg," one man says. "The guy who is predicting all of this stuff was wrong in 1994."

* Residents of Mountain Lakes are inundated with people going door-to-door looking to discuss May 21, according to residents who ride The Vanpool.

"Have you ever seen those gypsies that come around selling stolen property," someone asks.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Right Here Right Now

A new man is on the Vanpool. I have to explain to him the whole "I live in Philly but..." part of my existence. He looks 85% like Joe Flaherty circa Freaks and Geeks.

"One time when I was there, I went to this club and I saw Soho and Jesus Jones. They were REALLY awesome together."

He then asks me, "Say I came down to get a cheesesteak. What would you say I could do with three kids... maybe four?"

Tuesday, March 22, 2011


* I now own a bookbag with Chairman Mao's face on it. Photos up sometime later this week.

* A scandal erupted on a Vanpool trip that I was not on. Accusations have been made that Barbara tried to pocket $20 when handing money up to Charlie. She has denied these allegations.

"I saw her put the $20 in her wallet," this young Indian guy says. "Then she tried to flip the script and say I didn't pay. Heh! If I had a chance to steal $20 every chance I got, I'd be a millionaire."

He pauses.

"I manage $800 million in a personal services account alone. You think they'd give me a job like that if I stole $6?"

Thursday, March 17, 2011

A Bookbag for Chairman Mao

* Jennifer turns around to me all of a sudden.

"My son has to do a book report and it has to be a biography," she says. "And he picked Chairman Mao. One kid picked Tony Hawk. And like three others picked Nicholas Tesla."

"The teacher's really weirded out by it. I think I have to call her and tell her that my family believes in democracy."

She then asks me if I remember her telling me about a bookbag with Chairman Mao's face on it that her sister, who lives in China, bought and gave to Jennifer's son as a gift. I tell her that I do.

"Do you still want it? I'll sell it to you for $20."

I will be receiving this gift on Tuesday.

* We pick up the newspapers. The woman who looks like Precious tells us Happy St. Patrick's Day. The guy riding shotgun asks her where her green is.

"Oh, I got green socks on," she says. "But I couldn't find a green shirt to wear."

The guy who gives us the papers runs up behind her.

"I have on green underwear."

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Moves

* My parents have a house in upstate New York. Barbara brings this up in conversation. I ask her if she's ever been to Saratoga, which is a pretty well-to-do town.

"Surprisingly no," she says.

"That's a surprise. I would have thought that a woman on the go such as yourself would have been there," I say.

"I do have the moves," she says.

* I am sitting next to Barbara. She asks me if I could move in the backseat before she gets out.

"You know me. I need to fly in the morning."

* The guy at the corner who hands us newspapers runs up to the van.

"Sorry I'm late. It's raining out. And you know what happens to me when it rains? I start to mellllllllllltttttt."

* Christina fakes (I think?) being mad at me.

"Make sure you don't talk tomorrow so I can sleep."

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Are We There Yet?

* Most of The Vanpool talk focuses around college basketball and China's emergence as a world power. We make it into Midtown and let Barbara off at her stop.

"Are we there yet," she asks. She then pauses and laughs completely by herself.

She then leaves the van without shutting the door. One of the middle aged guys who sits in the front of the van has to shut it for her.

"Hopefully one day she'll leave me a tip."

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

A Charlie Sheen Moment

* Vanpool discussion focuses around Charlie Sheen, as all discussions in all aspects of my life have the past few weeks.

"I had my own Charlie Sheen moment," Barbara says.

"I'd like more details," I say.

"Yes, please," Nick says. "Don't be bashful."

Barbara is elusive, but we finally get her to spill.

"I was at a private club with a boyfriend of mine," she says. "He was cute. So he came up to us and and said he was going to another party and wanted to know if we wanted to go. So we got into the limo with him and went to this other party."

I ask her what a "private club" means.

"You know," she says. "It's private."

She then continued about Charlie Sheen.

"He was young to have a limo. It was when Red Dawn was coming out so he must've been about 26." (EDITOR'S NOTE: I just checked. He was 19.)

"He gave me his number so I called him once or twice and then that's it. I was going through some old things a few years ago and found his number. But that was so long ago. It wasn't really anything."

* After Barbara leaves, everyone turns around laughing. I thought they were sleeping the entire trip. They thank me for my ability to fish information from her while keeping a straight face.

* John Krazinski's Uncle leaves his briefcase in the back of The Van this morning. He goes to retrieve it but Charlie doesn't see him. He's then nearly dragged for about 10 feet as he runs while holding onto the back of The Van. Charlie finally stops before an awful tragedy strikes.

The Meatpacking District

* Barbara reflects on the changes in Manhattan since she used to live there.

"Look at you," I say. "All the chefs you know."

"Not chefs," she says. "Owners."

* "It used to be that the only reason you'd go to the Meatpacking District is to bring a boyfriend to get a you know what so you could keep him." -- Barbara.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Take My Clothes Off

Barbara, once again, is cold. Ed is manning shotgun today and turns the heat up. However, now it is too hot for Claire and Christina. He has to adjust the heat for them. But now once again it's too cold for Barbara. This lasts for 15 minutes.

I am sitting in the back. I am now asked what I think about The Vanpool temperature.

"Well, it's a little hot," I say. "But I'm okay."

I'm wearing a ski hat.

"You can just take your hat off," Barbara says. "If you're worried about your hair being messy, Christina does hair on weekends."

Christina just glares at Barbara.

"Who does hair on weekends," Barbara says.

Christina then tells me I can also take off my jacket.

"Maybe I should put on my stripper music," Barbara says to me.

I ask her to repeat herself since I am in disbelief.

"You know, my stripper music. So you can strip."

Nick then tells me I should give Barbara my change (I paid with a $20 today and received $15 in singles) so she can put the money down my pants.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Cold Feet

* Barbara asks for the blanket. Nick asks her if it's for her feet.

"Why would it be for my feet," she asks.

"Because you say that you're feet are always cold."

"Do you know what would warm my feet up? If you or Gregg would rub them for me."

* Nick compliments Barbara on her hat and asks her if it's hand-made.

"I don't own hand-made anything," she says.

* We pick up the newspapers.

"Hey, my beautiful peoples. Make sure you give me some chocolates on Monday," the paper guy says.

John Krazinski's Uncle notes that there is only AMNY and not both AMNY and The Metro.

"Oh, the girl who does the Metro, I'm punishing her."

Monday, January 31, 2011

Pocket Protector

* It's my first Vanpool ride in a while. When I get on, Christina for some reason asks if I have Super Bowl tickets I can give her.

* Barbara makes Charlie adjust the heat on the van about 64 times.

"My feet are just so cold," she says.

John Krazinski's Uncle tells her that he can bring her a blanket.

"Well, what good will that do me? I don't want to put a blanket on my feet. I'll get the blanket dirty," she says.

* We're at the corner where we get our newspapers. The guy at the corner asks us how are weekend was. We then ask him how his was.

"I can't remember," he shouts. "I think I have to check my pocket."

He then cackles in glee and walks away.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Out of Context

* I took the bus home yesterday and sat in front of Barbara and her niece. I couldn't hear what they were talking about but her niece did call a Chinese place for takeout.

"I would like an order of Moo Goo Gai Pain and a Ceasar salad. WHAT DO YOU MEAN YOU DON'T HAVE SALADS!"

* Barbara's niece also took the van the next morning. Snippets of their conversation that I overheard:

"The only reason she's dating him is because he owns a hot tub."

"Auntie, I told you 18,000 times already, I like hardcover books."

* After Barbara and her niece got off the van, Christina turned to us in the back.

"So, what did she say about me today?"

Claire said she didn't say anything. Christina said that Barbara gave her crap when money was being handed to Charlie, which no one else seemed to have heard.

"I should get a discount for putting up with her."

When I left, Christina told me to say a prayer for her for dealing with Barbara. I told her that I'd do even better and light a candle for her at the Cathedral.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011


* We're on Route 3, driving behind a truck. Someone reads the bumper sticker out loud.

"If I'm not honking, I'm Reloading."

At least three people practically cry from laughter.

* A car honks behinds us and cuts us off at a fast speed as we head into the Lincoln Tunnel.

"I bet he has to go deal drugs," Barbara says.

* We start to talk about Brett Favre's latest sex scandal. John Krazinski's Uncle says that he thinks that there might be more to the story than initially thought.

"Whatever happened to discretion," he says.