The Only Thing About Jersey

There was a very short period of my life when I lived in South Jersey. It was early in our marriage and I moved from DC to Russ’ small house in Palmyra. It was a cute four square house that Russ and I renovated so we could sell it and move to North Carolina. We lived between Jim the lineman for the electric company and Jim the lineman for the telephone company. Needless to say I was madly in love, but ready to move because I was just a little bit of a fish out of water in South Jersey.

There were no good grocery stores, no farmers markets, no one without big hair. The best restaurant in town was the Red Lobster so if you wanted to see a marriage proposal all you had to do was be there on Friday night. The staff was great at hiding the ring inside a lobster tail or a cheddar by biscuit.

There was hardly anything about South Jersey that I thought I was going to miss when we thankfully moved to Durham. I was wrong. I miss the Commerce Bank. Don’t get me wrong, I am perfectly happy with my bank here, mostly because my Banker is my friend, but no bank here had what Commerce Bank had, a coin sorting and counting machine in every lobby of every branch. And it was free to use, even by non-bank customers.

This was long before Coinstar moved into grocery stores and started charging a ridiculous percentage to count and sort your coins. On Saturday morning at Commerce the machine was busy with kids and their coin jars. It was a brilliant marketing tool. Once a kid poured his jar of coins into the machine and got to watch the works as it sorted and counted their money, with a small slip of paper produced at the end with their total which they took to the teller, they were hooked on this bank. I was hooked too. I would carry in a big sack of the coins Russ and I collected and loved turning that annoying change into twenties.

It was a free service. Girl Scout troops would bring their cookie money in, as would people who had yard sales. If I had played Mah Jongg back then I could have brought in my Mah Jongg winnings. Now that we live in a North Carolina I have to sort and roll my own Mah Jongg winnings. I refuse to pay CoinStar a percentage of my hard won gains.

So today, as I rolled my coins I pined away for Commerce Bank and South Jersey. I wonder if the two Jims still live on either side of Russ’ little house. It wasn’t a place that people moved away from, but that was just because they didn’t know they could and they too loved Commerce Bank.



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