2019 Chamber Train Reflections: The Enduring Awkwardness

(Washington DC) — Trenton Mayor Reed Gusciora threw a fun and memorable party last night at Pitchers, an LGBT sports bar in DC’s Adam’s Morgan neighborhood. The event was one of dozens of ancillary events associated with the NJ Chamber of Commerce’s Walk to Washington #ChamberTrain extravaganza that brings hundreds of NJ political- and business leaders to DC for a raucous road trip to lobby, network, and have a good time.

I had a little too much fun. I proved it while cooing “I LOVE YOU MAN!” to Congressman Frank Pallone as he was trying to leave Mayor Gusciora’s soirée. I had enough to drink that I insisted on a hug from Chairman Pallone but I was sober enough to immediately march myself home and put myself to bed at 11:30.

We can all comfort ourselves in the knowledge that someone else’s Friday morning reckoning was far worse  than yours.

That’s my plan.


While some of us woke up with a hangover, we all woke up to a wintery mix. But there’d be no delay getting home. The Chamber of Commerce chartered this Amtrak train so we pulled out of Union Station right on time, unlike many passengers whose trains got delayed by the weather.

As the 14-car train hurtles towards Baltimore I’m struck by how many awkward encounters I’ve had already today. It was especially uncomfortable when I saw Governor Murphy’s deputy chief of staff Joe Kelley. The Murphy camp really bristled when I reminded the world about Joe Kelley. Long story short: he threw a chair during Murphy’s campaign to become governor.

There’s been immense focus on Murphy’s hiring policies. Joe Kelley proves there should be.

In some cases I went out of my way to avoid awkward encounters. I mean, what am I supposed to say to a certain friend who’s enriched herself and her family with government jobs they’re not qualified for. It’s beyond awkward, it’s actually painful, when people I respect and admire behave selfishly and unethically.

Can’t we stop throwing chairs and ripping off taxpayers please?

Pretty please.

To be fair, many encounters where infinitely more positive, and a few were downright joyous. For example, I finally met Assemblywoman Yvonne Lopez and her husband Sam Delgado who made last year’s Power Couple list. It’s a treat to finally meet some of the folks who’ve made our lists over the years.

The trip home is infinitely more mellow than the ride down. You can stretch out and relax and actually type an essay. I wanted to do video on the way down but it was so loud the audio was virtually unusable. And it was too croweded to take my computer from the bag, much less actually type something cohesive like I’m trying to do right now.

Jay Lassiter is an award winning writer and podcaster who just had another awkward encounter on the train. 






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