An index card stapled to a sign on the Garden State Parkway caught my attention not too long ago.

I was driving on the Parkway and headed off at Exit 44 by Stockton College in Galloway recently. While sitting at the red light at the end of the ramp, I happened to look over and I saw a very small sign attached to a wooden pole.

Typically at a traffic signal, you see big signs stuck in the dirt or a bigger sign nailed to a telephone pole — this wasn't either of those. This was an unprotected index card stapled to a sign in a place where no one would ever see it (unless you're me and you keep an eye out for bizarre, random things).

Let me put this into perspective.

This was a little 3×5 index card stuck to the sign way over there where no one ever crosses the road or has time to read it while they're driving. And, it's parallel to the road so you can only see it if you are the first car stopped at the light. And that light changes pretty quickly.

Strange note found on the Garden State Parkway in New Jersey - Photo: Google Maps
Strange note found on the Garden State Parkway in New Jersey - Photo: Google Maps

As luck would have it, the light changed, and holding up traffic over an index card wouldn't have won me any awards from my fellow Jersey drivers, so I had no idea what it said.

That was a Wednesday afternoon.

Remaining perplexed about this little index card, I drove back there the following morning, but being on Pomona Road, I couldn't stop to see the sign without getting on the southbound Parkway, driving down to the service plaza by Exit 41, hooking a U-turn, and driving back to Exit 44.

By now, I've invested a great deal of time and mental energy in this little index card. And since I've been overthinking it for almost an entire day, I was becoming more and more curious as to what it said. Something witty? Something stupid (like, "Did you really think something intelligent would be stuck to a sign on a Parkway ramp")?

No. It was someone looking for a roommate.

Mysterious sign on the Garden State Parkway - Photo: Chris Coleman
Mysterious sign on the Garden State Parkway - Photo: Chris Coleman

For a moment, let's talk about the fundamentals of advertising. Whatever it is that you are advertising, you want to make sure your message gets seen and heard. You do that by putting your advertisement in a place where people will see and hear it.

On the surface, this little index card violates the basic rules of advertising.

No one will ever see it and this person will never get a response, and therefore, never get a roommate and be lonely for eternity (that's a bit of a stretch, I know). However, it succeeds in one other way — it does something to bring attention to itself. It gets people (let's be honest, "person" -- that being me and only me) to think about it and wonder about it.

And now that this person, who is looking for a roommate (female freshman preferred, mind you) with most utilities included whose insignificant 3×5 index card would have gotten no attention and therefore no response is now the focus of a blog that thousands of people will read.

Index card - Photo: Chris Coleman
Index card - Photo: Chris Coleman

I'll let you guess at the phone number. And if this index card is your creation, you're welcome. And a finders fee would be a nice gesture.

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Gallery Credit: Chris Coleman

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