For as long as I can remember, my dad has called small shuttle buses “jitneys.” And for all twenty four years of my life, I assumed that was a clever word that he made up because it’s much more fun to say jitney than it is to say shuttle bus.
It wouldn’t be the first time my family had a made up word in our vocabulary. For example, there is a road near our house with a series of hills make your stomach feel like you’re on a roller coaster. We’ve always called those types of hills mickels. I don’t know the origin of mickel, but my entire family knows the meaning of the word and uses it on a regular basis.
The general public? Not so much.
And I’ve lived my life assuming jitney fell into the same category as mickel.
Michelle and I were at the beach this weekend and decided to paint the town red on Friday night and go to a bar. Unfortunately it was 45 degrees outside with a constant gusty wind, which would have made the walk from our hotel on 79th street to the bar on 24th A VERY LONG, UNPLEASANT ONE.
And so, we took to the Google for transportation options and there, the very first result, was the Seven Mile Island Jitney.
My jaw dropped.
HOW DID THEY KNOW MY DAD’S WORD?
It turns out that jitney is AN ACTUAL WORD.
IT IS IN THE DICTIONARY.
I HAD NO IDEA.
This will forever change the way I communicate with others about small to medium sized shuttle buses. I can use the term jitney freely and without worrying that I may not be understood.
I will just have to make sure that I don’t ask the driver to take us down the road with the mickels.