The Other Side of the Lesson.

justin bars
Justin reflects on his recent commuting woes.

I was recently digging through some footage from last year and came across a little interview I did in the spring of 2012 with Justin right after he had his first real mishap on the NJ Transit commuter train.

Justin was headed back home to Montclair from NYC after attending a class at the School of Visual Arts. At Penn station, Justin proceeded to the regular track but boarded the wrong train, a mistake I’ve certainly made more than once. After a few hours in the wrong direction and several connections later, Justin finally made it home, tired and cranky. As nerve-racking as this was for his mother, she identified this as necessary training for Justin – the unexpected, the inconvenient, the inevitable. This is the other side of the lesson plan that everyone hopes to avoid. The concept of plan B is something we begin learning from birth, as soon as we feel hungry or tired or overstimulated. The answer babies come up with is always the same, because crying at the top of your lungs is proven to be the fastest and most effective game-changer. As we age, the problem shifts from wondering if to wondering how or when things will go awry.

I was reminded of a time several years ago when I fell asleep during an evening commute and ended up in a town I’ve never heard of before. Like Justin, I had to rely on the courtesy of strangers – not only to point me in the right direction, but also to borrow a cell phone and embarrassingly, change for the return ticket. When I eventually reached my stop, I felt foolish and frustrated but also a bit wiser, maybe a bit like how Justin felt on his first misadventure.

-Ben Stamper, Director of Don’t Foil My Plans.