Summertime, and the livin’s far from easy

By Pam Hersh, Special Writer
   Summertime and the livin’ may be easy — someplace.
   My summertime leisure activity as I sit on a Nassau Street bench with my iced tea quickly becoming hot tea is to compile some of the FAQs (frequently asked questions), FACs (frequently angsted comments), FAWs (frequently announced worries) that have come to my attention over the past few months.
   1. What is a “trente?” As people watch me sipping iced tea from a giant cup that looks as though it was injected with illegal growth hormones, they stop and ask me, What is that? It is the new drink size from Starbucks which has decided to serve 31 ounces of iced liquid in a cup whose name implies only 30 ounces. I am a little worried about being associated with this very big drink, but my life would be ruined if I were banned from the coffee drinkers league.
   2. Are the fireworks, and assortment of outdoor events, i.e., parades, concerts, theater performances, weddings, movies on the square, barbecues, golf tournaments, etc. going to be canceled because of rain? This is a source of major summertime angst.
   All I can say is that we need to tap into the Ray Wadsworth/Princeton University connection to the heavens. Both Ray and the President of PU (whoever is in office at the time) seem to have this uncanny power over the heavens. The rain seems to hold off for Princeton University’s graduation ceremonies as well as Ray’s Spirit of Princeton activities.
   This year, during an extremely rainy spring season, was another stunning example of such magical powers. Rain showers came before and after but not during The Spirit of Princeton’s Memorial Day Parade and the Fireworks on July 3, as well as the Princeton University Baccalaureate Ceremony and Graduation Ceremony.
   Ray has said often that he goes to church the morning of his events and prays for good weather. I have no idea whether someone is doing that on behalf of PU, but it may not be necessary, because it is rumored that God is an alumn.
   3. Even though the town’s residents are highly educated, can no one read? The one sign that no one seems to be able to comprehend is the no-swimming sign at the Woodrow Wilson School Fountain Pool. Every day in the hot weather — day and night — the pool is crowded with grownups, teens, pre-teens and toddlers romping in the pool oblivious to the sign. If there were a Guinness Book of World Records listing for the Most Ignored Sign, this sign would be No. 1. Runner up for the Ignored Sign category would be the one that says no skateboarding.
   4. Did you know that the Princeton Starbucks has become an official tour bus stop? When the buses land on the corner of Nassau and Witherspoon streets, I sprint into Starbucks to get in line before the hordes descend upon the coffeehouses (they manage to find Panera and Small World, as well) and clog the passageways; the line to the bathroom in Starbucks recently snaked nearly out the door. This is not good for those of us who have just finished drinking a trente-sized iced tea.
   5. Who are those clipboard people invading Nassau Street? Like the summer tourists, the clipboard people soliciting signatures and/or money for a variety of causes — generally human rights, environmental issues and diseases. I want to wear a T-shirt that says. “I support everything; just leave me alone.”
   The most interesting street solicitor was the guy who tried to get me to sign his petition against the National Security Agency and its listening-to-all-every place techniques. He initially had a “F—- the NSA” sign until the cops made him remove the obscenity. His clipboard became a little wobbly when I informed him that my first job out of college was with the NSA.
   4. When are you (meaning me) going to do something about blah, blah and blah, blah? I guess I should feel slightly flattered or cursed that people think I have any power whatsoever to bring about change to thorny local issues. I know the local mayors are the ones who really bear the weight of these ongoing FAWS. Because my place of employment now is in Plainsboro on the other side of Route 1, my geographic complaint service area has taken on a new geographic dimension. The following worries were brought to me:
   A. No food store in Plainsboro. Plainsboro Mayor Peter Cantu is working hard with the new owners of the Plainsboro Plaza Shopping Center to find a replacement for the SuperFresh supermarket.
   B. The traffic on Route 1 – All the mayors of the area, particularly Princeton’s Liz Lempert, Plainsboro’s Cantu and West Windsor’s Shing-Fu Hsueh are working with DOT Commissioner James Simpson and Princeton University to find a solution before we all retire and do not drive anymore.
   C. Bike/pedestrian crossing over Route 1. This is being discussed in conjunction with the project of figuring out how to relieve the congestion on Route 1. If we ever achieve this link, it will be as significant locally as linking East and West Germany with the Berlin Wall down. The East and West of Route 1 might really come together some day. The 655 bus route between Princeton and Plainsboro has punched a few holes in that impenetrable east/west barrier, but a walkway/bikeway would be truly a remarkable accomplishment in any season.
A longtime resident of Princeton, Pam Hersh is vice president for government community affairs with Princeton HealthCare System. She is a former managing editor of The Princeton Packet.