Revs and Cost are like finding an Old Friend among strangers. Times uncounted have I found myself walking down an unfamiliar street, hard looks everywhere, Jim singing "People are Strange" in the back of my head, only to catch Cost and Revs winking at me out of the corner of my eye. Sometimes a witty saying like “ NYC is Cost’s toilet bowl”, or “ Cost Fucked Madonna” greets me, as if to say, “What’s up, what’re you doin’ here?” Then there is that warm sense of familiarity that Stephenson attributes the success of all of those generic chains clogging America to. I feel, at home.

The moment of realization came one morning at 7AM on a train into Hoboken, the Pascack valley line, to be exact. Somewhere in that endless marsh between Woodridge and Hoboken, near one of the largest shipping container yards outside of Newark. A cement railroad trestle, about 30 feet high, 40 feet long. Revs. 30 feet by 40 feet, white block letters. In the absolute middle of nowhere. Rising out of the marsh like an alien sigil, not yet discovered or touched by human thought. Unreachable by human feet.

After that, they became my fnords. Everywhere. 10th Ave. Houston street. Queens, Brooklyn, Shaolin. There lies on the Harlem River Drive an ancient piece of machinery whose purpose I cannot fathom. Some kind of miniature oil refinery. And Emblazoned upon a mammary tank: Revs. Cost. I was never haunted though, no more than one is haunted by a favorite bartender or a great cup of coffee. Look for them. They’re there.