On the Jitney, headed to New York City, doctors appointments all in a row. Equipped with allegedly waterproof boots and an umbrella. Rain is inevitable.
Two women across the aisle; it is clear that they are heading to the city for fun. They mention the Museum of Modern Art and talk about lunch, whether at the museum or at a restaurant suggested by a friend.
I should be working on my column, but I can’t help but let my mind wander back to my first decade on the South Fork, when it was yet to become “the Hamptons,” and the family car and the Long Island Rail Road were the only options for getting to Manhattan.
Like almost everyone who grew up here or who has been around for a while, I constantly think — and carry on — about the changes time has brought: the woods that have been suburbanized, what shops used to be where, how parking on Main Street and left turns off the highway were no problem once upon a time. The idea that I would someday carry a laptop to and from New York, and actually use it while traveling, was beyond my ken.
Many of us remember the first Jitney, a van with a trailer behind for bicycles that carried people between the hamlets and villages, and we remember Jim Davidson, who started the company in 1974. I knew one of the investors and thought she had made a good move. Then, in the ’80s, as development began in earnest, I secretly started blaming the Jitney for making it all too easy for an onslaught of newcomers to commute and commune.
I admit my anti-Jitney thinking was silly. I have always taken advantage of the bus, too, and the only people who have a legitimate beef about “newcomers” are the Montauketts and Shinnecocks. Though I still do take pleasure in calling it a bus.
By now, I’m an old hand. I buy the Jitney’s bulk Value Pack tickets, and scheme to assure a seat by myself. Back in the ’80s and ’90s, I was a member of the now-defunct frevquent-roller program, through which you could earn free trips. (I miss that, as I miss the Perrier and the oft-eulogized smoked almonds.) I know enough to generally avoid traveling at peak times in summer, when you have to prove you have a reservation to get aboard. But I’m not truly a regular. I’m told some customers actually go to and from their Manhattan jobs on the bus.
Having been around since its start, though, I sometimes think us old-timers deserve recognition. Membership in a fan club, perhaps? A cloth patch, which we could sew onto a baseball cap or the sleeve of our jacket? Maybe just a tote bag?