Before I relocated to New Jersey a few years ago, my impressions of the Garden State were consistent with the stereotypes: Interstate 95 traffic jams, cogeneration plants spewing smoke, Tony Soprano, roadside diners, dangerous cities, people with annoying accents. But it took little time living in New Jersey to see that its range of natural beauty — from coastline, to quaint towns, to farmlands and deep woodlands — can match any state in the union. In spite of MTV’s Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi and Mike “The Situation,” most New Jersey residents have much more on their minds than “Gym, Tan and Laundry,” and the notorious Jersey accent is actually from Staten Island. Sorry New York.
So why doesn’t New Jersey hire a PR firm to set the record straight?
Before I had an opportunity to register my car in New Jersey, a group of teenagers who spotted my Connecticut license plates yelled at me in unison: “Go Home!” In defense, I screamed back: “Hey! I live here!”
So I asked my next door neighbor: “New Jersey’s a beautiful state, and doesn’t do justice to its lousy reputation. Why are people here so content to have outsiders believe all the negative stereotypes?”
“People who live here all know what a great state New Jersey is,” he said. “And we don’t care if other people find out, because then they might move here.”
New Jersey loves its bad PR, and has no interest in improving its reputation. Bad PR means fewer people to discover New Jersey’s prime fly fishing locations, more blanket space on its pristine beaches, and available tee times at its world-class golf courses.
But you didn’t get that information from me.