It’s eleven o’clock at night. I’m sitting on my driveway with my husband, my sister, my son, and my cousins (from Brooklyn and Long Island). We had just come back from seeing Tony Bennett at the Great Auditorium. We were passing a dessert dish around when someone, unfamiliar to any of us, walks up to the table.
It’s kind of alarming that out of all of the boroughs, towns, cities on the Jersey Shore, Ocean Grove has the least amount of police presence and the most amount of wierdos walking through town. I can honestly say this about police presence, because I’m working on travel articles encompassing the entire one hundred and thirty miles of the Jersey Shore. I’ve been reporting Monmouth County beaches, starting at Sandy Hook and working my way down the shore, making my way into Ocean County.
Every beachfront has police officers, two, three at a time, perhaps standing around watching their town residents. Or perhaps just standing around on duty, but the fact is they are there. In Ocean Grove, we don’t have a daily police presence or a week-end police presence, so our chairs get stolen from the beach. Our umbrellas lifted if you walk away to go into the water or go up to the bathroon. This year has been the worst.
So this guy comes on my driveway, wants to shake my husband’s hand, introduces himself as Randy. It’s eleven o’clock at night. My husband refuses to shake his hand and asks, “What is it that you want?” He wants to know whether we’re renters for the summer or if we live in our house full time. Again, my husband asks, “What is it that you want?” There are three men sitting at the table and four women. My husband poses the question again. It’s obvious the guy is getting nervous. “Where’s 71,” he asks. My husband points him in a westerly direction.
After he staggers off our driveway, we look at one another, “What the hell was that about?” as one of my cousins puts a bottle from under the table back on top of the table that he obviously grabbed feeling threatened himself. One of us was a retired police officer at NYPD, the other a captian in NYFD, two of us work for federal judges. We are not your typical hysterical people, but you know when you come from Brooklyn or a big city you have to be street smart. And I’m warning Ocean Grovers to be street smart, too.
Don’t let people you don’t know engage you in conversation, especially if you feel they’re drunk or high on drugs. Don’t leave your possessions like bikes, scooters, chairs, and things that you value outdoors or unguarded on the beach. I don’t know what’s going on this year, but we’re being preyed upon. We pay an awful lot of taxes in Ocean Grove to receive police presence on a daily basis on our boardwalk. Why don’t we have it?