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A Jitney Myst’ry

Jitney season is winding down. If you live in New York, you know those big green “motor coaches” that rumble along the avenues, collecting weekenders and second-homers and hauling them east: the tonier south forkers towards the Hamptons, the rusticating north forkers towards Orient. (Long Island splits at its tip into two “forks,” north and south, with Shelter Island in the middle. The north fork is Long Island Sound; the south fork is the Atlantic. Thus North Fork and South Fork).

We’ve been to both forks in the last month–double-forkers, that’s us–and so we joined the throngs of jitney riders standing on the corner of 3rd and 40th. And that’s when I noticed: there were no kids waiting for the bus, other than my own squabbling pair. The first time, I sort of understood: we were riding the so-called “luxury liner,” which despite the overtones of White Star Lines, means only that you get a plug for your computer, and bins in the back of the bus filled with individual packets of cheez-its and chocolate chip cookies. 

On our way back from the East End, again on the luxury liner, and again: no kids but ours. Some truly sophomoric men (usely the term loosely) sat in front of us and cackled about cute girls on facebook, but there were no actual chronological children on the bus.

Then, on a subsequent weekend, we were again waiting for the jitney–the regular ol’ green bus jitney–to go to the North Fork. A definitively more down-scale crowd all-round, and no bottomless bin of chocolate chip cookies, much to the boys’ disappointment.  But again: they were the only kids. Going out and coming back. 

Friends who ride the jitney report the same thing: they are a seemingly child-free zone.

And yet, I see children on the beaches of both forks.  How’d they get there? Are they shipped with the baggage (and why didn’t I think of doing that)?  Is there some unwritten rule that people traveling to one or the other fork with kids must do the train-switch sprint, kids in tow, through the hellishly crowded train station in Queens?

It’s a mystery. Because let’s face it: unless you’re traveling on, like, Beyonce’s motor coach, a bus is a bus is a bus. I don’t care how many packets of cheez-its you give me, it’s still a bus. Not a glam way to travel. Those jitneys should be crawling with kids, while the glam-forkers whisk out east on the train, or the ferry, or some other more eleganza conveyance.

Clearly, our friends on the forks should continue to invite us out for visits on a regular basis (I’m thinking weekly) so that I can continue this jitney-based research.

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One Response to A Jitney Myst’ry

  1. karen September 7, 2010 at 12:00 pm #

    catching up on my reading…now that you mention it, i’ve never seen children on the jitney. it may have something to do with the fact that it’s twice as expensive as the train, and that the children must remain seated for the duration of the trip (while the train allows a little bit more freedom if it’s not overloaded with people). i think the main thing is that families who frequent the forks frequently, have cars. Once you are out there, a car is very handy, if not downright necessary. If you’re going for just a weekend to visit friends, the friends will supply the car. If you are making a habit out of visiting the east end, you better find that parking space in the city.

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