1. You know why they call it the “Garden State.”

It’s because they couldn’t fit the “Chemical and Petroleum Refineries and Toxic Waste State” on the license plates. New Jersey is one of the largest chemical producing states in the country, with probably the largest petroleum containment areas outside the Middle East. While New Jersey’s agricultural outputs do include vegetables, it’s better known for leading the nation in its share of toxic waste dumps.

2. You can see what your neighbor is eating for breakfast from your kitchen window.

New Jersey has one of the highest population densities in the country, so more people are packed in here per square mile than just about anywhere else. You’re used to a lack of personal space and don’t think twice about giving your neighbor a friendly wave from your kitchen window while he peers in to see what looks good for breakfast.

3. You keep a small fortune in your car to pay for toll roads.

It’s the tollbooth capital of the country. From New York, you can only get here by bridge or tunnel; both have tolls. Once you pay the small fortune for the privilege to cross into the Garden State, count on shelling out several more bucks to travel up and down the State’s turnpikes and parkways. After you maneuver your way through all those tollbooths, you’ll need your GPS to find your way through the poorly-marked traffic circles, which were intentionally designed to misdirect you back onto another toll road.

Tollbooth road rage can be serious business here. Consider for example, the situs of the ”Corpus Christie” incident – the likely political death of New Jersey’s governor because of a politically charged lane closure scandal and traffic backup at the GWB (George Washington Bridge) toll.

4. When asked where you live, you say the closest exit number off the NJ turnpike exit instead of the name of your town.

This insightful witticism made famous on SNL is actually a cultural byproduct of Number 3 above.

5. You go on anti-depressants after paying your property tax bill.

New Jersey is one of the wealthiest states in the US and tops the list with New York for the highest real estate taxes in the nation. While New Jersey gets a bad rap for its reeking oil refineries and polluting smoke stacks, most outsiders are amazed by the pockets of wealthy communities throughout the state. From the jaw dropping towns in North Jersey’s Alpine and Upper Saddle River, to the central Counties of Morris, Somerset and Hunterdon, to South Jersey ocean resorts in Mantoloking, Sea Girt, and Spring Lake, you begin to understand why folks pay big real estate bucks to live in these hidden gems so close to Manhattan. No wonder BMW and Mercedes have their corporate headquarters in New Jersey.

6. You know that Soprano country has nothing to do with vocalists or saxophones.

If you ask someone from North Jersey what it means, they’d tell you but then they’d have to kill you.

7. You don’t get out of your car to pump your own gas.

Full service gas stations are a thing of the past for most of the country, but not New Jersey. New Jersey is one of only two states in the country that has laws prohibiting individuals from pumping their own gas.

8. When you do get out of your car, you remember to first fasten The Club® around the steering wheel.

You make sure your auto theft insurance policy is paid up. New Jersey has one of the highest rates of car thefts in the nation. Far better than the hidden Lo Jack®, the Club’s two-piece steel device that locks around your steering wheel is a highly visible and highly effective deterrent against vehicle theft. If nothing else, it tells a car thief that your car will be harder to steal so they should move on to your neighbor’s vehicle.

9. You had your first good meal at a diner and know the best places to get pizza and cannolis.

New Jersey is the diner capital of the world. Diners are displayed along with gas stations on your car’s GPS system and are all owned by Greeks. Jersey folks are serious about their food and have some of the best, authentic Italian restaurants outside of Italy and New York. Anyone from Jersey knows the best places to get pizza and cannolis within a 25-mile radius of their hometown exit.

10. Baby boomers and their parents remember the legendary Palisades Amusement Park.

Long before the birth of the mega amusement parks, the Palisades Amusement Park was New Jersey’s answer to Coney Island. Lying between Fort Lee and Cliffside Park on the banks of the Hudson River, the park was the home of the Cyclone and Tunnel of Love rides, and inspired Freddie “Boom Boom” Cannon’s popular song “Palisades Park”. Although Fort Lee’s luxury high-rise condominiums have covered the site since 1971 when the park closed, it lives on the hearts of New Jersey’s baby boomers.

11. You know that “Bruce” juice is not just for breakfast.

You get pumped anytime during the day listening to New Jersey’s favorite son Bruce Springsteen, because baby you were born to run. Your parent’s favorite son, old blue eyes, is famous for his rendition of “New York, New York” but reigns from Hoboken, New Jersey.

12. Your favorite past time is going to the shopping mall.

You can’t help it. It’s not a bad thing. You live within 45 minutes of three shopping malls. There are more shopping malls per square mile here than any other place in the United States.

13. You know the home stadium for the New York Jets and the New York Giants is in New Jersey, not New York.

The MetLife Stadium, or the Meadowlands, as it’s more commonly known, in East Rutherford, is the only NFL stadium to house two teams. And no, they still haven’t found Jimmy Hoffa there…yet.

14. You know that Ellis Island is part of New Jersey and New York.

While the original island falls within the territorial jurisdiction of New York, the rest of the island added after 1834 mostly falls within the territory of New Jersey.

15. It may be reality TV, but Snooki and Jwoww don’t actually represent Jersey people at large.

Once you get beyond the rough and tough, ready to rumble, hard-shelled stereotype, Jersey folks are big hearted and go out of their way to help each other in a crisis. You know it may be hard to crack the shell and make a friend here, but once you do you’ve made a friend for life.