Okay, so this is not anything to do with Reflections in Ministry. You’ll forgive me, right?

Welll, I should say that it is connected. This time last year my wife and I flew from our comfortable southern-state home to New Jersey to interview for the church position we’re now working for. We moved two months later and have been loving life in New Jersey ever since.

A couple of things that we have learned about New Jersey:

  • It has incredibly high property taxes. Fortunately, we live in a parsonage and it doesn’t directly affect us.
  • Getting into New Jersey is free, but the surrounding states will charge you to get back out. There is no way to leave NJ without paying for a plane ticket, ferry, or bridge toll. Well, there may be a way in to get from the New York suburbs into New York state without paying, but I’m not sure about that.
  • While most of NJ is citified, there is a lovely part of the state called “South Jersey” that has some beautiful farmland and is sparsely populated.
  • New Jersey is one of two states where it is illegal to pump your own gas (Oregon is the other that I know of). So every gas station is full service (well, not in the sense that they will wash your windows, check your oil and tire pressure, and give your engine a once-over, but they do pump your gas for you).

The funny thing about this last one, the pumping gas, is that my wife and I were both sort of intimidated about this fact when we first arrived. Mostly because neither of us just relishes new experiences, and we had never gone to a full-service station. But after 10 months of it, we’re quite accustomed to just pulling up to a pump and sitting in our car while someone comes up to us and pumps it for us. Oh, the life of luxury!

So we’re traveling this weekend. And not to Oregon. We’ll have a car to rent. I’ll have to return it with a full tank (or pay upward of $7.00/gallon for them to). That means I will actually have to pump my own gas for the first time in 10 months. Wow. Life changes quickly!

(As an aside, New Jersey is a small state – you can get out of it and into one, two, or three other states in a matter of one or two hours, depending on your course. The surprising thing we’ve found is that NJ, where they pump the gas for you, generally has gas that is $0.15-$0.25 cheaper per gallon than the other states. Because we have a lower gas tax. So even if we’re running on fumes in, say, Delaware, we’ll cross over to NJ and get gas there where someone else can pump our gas and we can pay less for them to do it!)

Anyway, having someone pump the gas for us may be a legally mandated luxury in NJ, but we certainly enjoy it. I hope that I can remember how to pump gas when we get to where we’re going!


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