"She came by way of Archer, Bridgeport, Nanuet, worked off 95 in jeans and a denim jacket, carrying a plastic bag and shower shoes, a phone number, waiting beneath an underpass, the potato chips long gone, lightheaded."

This is the first sentence of the novel. What does "worked off 95" mean?

http://www.kcrw.com/news-culture/shows/bookworm/atticus-lish-preparation-for-the-next-life/excerpt-from-preparation-for-the-next-life - that is a larger piece of the first chapter if some more context is needed.

  • 95 is Interstate 95, a major highway running down the East Coast of the US
    – Nonnal
    Commented Dec 21, 2015 at 2:31

1 Answer 1


This is only vaguely idiomatic. Bridgeport (and I'm guessing the other places as well) are cities that Interstate 95 (or I95) runs through N-S. She works, literally - does something for money - "off" I95, that is, she gets her work from people travelling on that interstate. Without other context, she might be doing something unsavory, like selling drugs, doing illegal work, procuring, or other.

With more context, it can mean her job was right off (in the immediate vicinity of) I95.

  • 1
    Bridgeport is indeed a city in Connecticut which I-95 passes through. Nanuet is a small hamlet in New York, about 25 miles west of I-95, and about one hour from Bridgeport. There is no municipality called Archer anywhere near that area. Commented Dec 21, 2015 at 3:28
  • @StevenLittman - Huh, I obviously didn't know that. Thanks! Commented Dec 21, 2015 at 3:33

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