Sloane Crosley: 'New Jersey is not hard to navigate, especially when one lives in neighbouring New York'

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Here are the three circumstances under which elderly ladies in insane-looking pointy hats will ask you to come inside their house:

1. Your name is Hansel.

2. Your name is Gretel.

3. You are standing outside a church on a Sunday morning and the house is the house of God.

I got about as lost as number 1 and number 2 last weekend while trying to find my way to my sister's house in New Jersey. New Jersey is not especially hard to navigate and when one lives in neighbouring New York, there's no excuse for failing in this department. Alas, a few weekend train transfers, a misprinted schedule and the sound of a train door closing behind you when you'd like to get right back on it had landed me in the city of Newark. For a city large enough to have a less-than-desirable reputation, it was oddly abandoned. Where were the bodies that housed the personalities known for drive-by shootings?

With no one to ask about the next train, I meandered down to street level and called a cab service. I was so relieved to hear a human voice, I didn't think twice about "meeting the driver outside the Hilton". The second the phone was back in my pocket, I was faced with that age-old question: What Hilton? I will tell you that as not-ideal as it is to be standing on an abandoned Newark platform, it is even less ideal to go wandering around the back strolling over train tracks and highway entrances to circle around said station. The only building I found was a church. I stopped outside and called the taxi service back. That's when an elderly woman approached me.

"Are you lost?" she said.

"Yes," I replied.

"Would you like to come inside and pray?" she asked.

"Oh, no thank you. I'm –"

"God will save you," she patted me on the shoulder and kept walking.

Probably not, I thought, not unless God has a car and a GPS. Though when I located my cab driver, he did have a large rosary dangling from the rear-view mirror. So what do I know?

Sloane Crosley is the author of 'How Did You Get This Number' (Portobello Books)

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