May 30, 2020

Writing in defense of the mundane

Having attended a school consisting of an overwhelming majority of in-state students for nearly three years now, I can say that I have overheard much heated debate over one eternal, pressing question: Which geographic region of the Garden State is superior – north, south or central New Jersey?

This simple question has posed an even greater array of questions, each particular to the state’s three geographical regions: What is the best shore destination? Is it a hoagie or a sub? Is Philly or New York “The City?”

Of all of these questions, maybe the most divisive and hotly contested question by far is: Which is better, Wawa or QuickChek?

This edition of “In defense of the mundane” will settle the Wawa vs. QuickChek debate once and for all.

In the interest of better journalism, it is only appropriate that I acknowledge my bias as a north Jersey resident.

According to Google Maps, the Wawa nearest to my hometown of West Milford, located at the top of Passaic County, is the one I pass on Route 206 in Hillsborough every time I drive to or from the College.

But I am a well traveled New Jersey citizen, and I have sampled both the atmosphere and fine cuisine of Wawa and its northern counterpart, QuickChek. Let’s see how the two measure up, shall we?

Names cannot be overlooked in judging this competition. “QuickChek” conveys speed and efficiency. In north Jersey, you go to a QuickChek for a tank of gas, a fast and halfway-decent meal or a frosty beverage. Apparently, expediency is essential to the QuickChek mission – so essential that there was no time to add the second “c” in “Chek.”

I must say, I’ve been thoroughly unimpressed with the speed of service in both the Hopatcong and the Butler QuickChek locations where I’ve waited up to 20 minutes for gas and spent excessive amounts of time at the register, respectively. Therefore, QuickChek fails to live up to its name.

“Wawa” just sounds and looks ridiculous, which I have total respect for. It sounds even better when your long-board-toting, Ugg-boot-wearing friend from south Jersey says to you, “Hey bro, let’s go to Wawa.”

In terms of atmosphere, I’ve also got to hand it to Wawa.

Many times, on the long drive from West Milford to the College, I’ve had to make a pit stop at the Pennington QuickChek on Route 31.

There, I’ve been met with the steely eyed disapproval of the local men who lounge about drinking their coffee, reading newspapers, complaining about the weather and gossiping.

Wawa has a more relaxed, carefree atmosphere. After an end-of-summer beach adventure with my friends in Colts Neck, a few of us were bold enough to stride into the bastion of hunger-satisfying goodness without shoes.

The sign on the door warned us that such an act would not be tolerated, but no, the first-rate Wawa employees served us with pride anyway, and we rejoiced.

Wawa also wins in the final category of fan devotion. My housemate, Pete Spall, junior criminology and justice studies major, is an upstanding Wawa fan and a fine American.

Spall has traveled across the New Jersey border to Pennsylvania on several occasions to obtain wholesome Wawa food stuffs.

I don’t know of any QuickChek fans that can match Spall’s devotion, and I have heard his love for Wawa echoed in the voices of numerous fans statewide. In fact, I can say most north Jersey residents consider QuickChek to be a last-ditch food option. Certainly, it gets the job done in satisfying my hunger, but it lacks the quintessential Wawa character.

Here’s to you Wawa – you are the New Jersey convenience store king. South and central Jersey desperately need you, for they will never know the joy of G & A’s Hot Bagels.

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