Not that I’m trying to smuggle guns or drugs, but the Johnny-Depp-in-Blow days are long gone and airport security remains in full-patriot force like 9/11 just happened. The Atlanta airport is especially crazy and now that I’m preparing to leave the city, did I choose to take the bus or a plane? I chose the bus and here’s why…I’m cheap for starters. The bus ticket was $125 and the flight would have been $350, plus baggage. Being that I’m not in a hurry, it’s no contest; thrifty wins. When I travel by air I do prefer to fly first-class though, so that I can drink heavily and steal those tiny blue blankets (which I use as fancy scarves). It’s true, airports are among my least favorite places to be, but Greyhound Bus Depots are right up there too. However, the bus station doesn’t have metal detectors or drug-sniffing dogs, and the threat of terror is, well…sort of exciting to me.
It’s a 30-hour trip north and the bus can be a wild ride, but this is far from my first rodeo. For anyone that’s never rode a Greyhound, one thing is bound to happen if you do: you will meet some characters. I’ve had confrontations with horrible mothers; I’ve listened to the stories of elderly men reliving their glory days; I’ve snuggled with temporary girlfriends between transfers; I’ve waited for hours in depots on layovers and wandered the worst parts of America’s dirtiest cities; I’ve witnessed shoplifters get arrested on fuel stops; I’ve smoked pot with complete strangers; I’ve read more books than some people will read in their entire adult lives, all on weird bus trips.
Unfortunately, America’s fast-food industry is a major sponsor of Greyhound and the bus makes frequent stops at these sorry excuses for dining. Pack a lunch, or take the opportunity to fast and cleanse your system. Your belly will thank you. Not eating food for a stretch can be highly beneficial for your stomach and for your body, much like not thinking thoughts can provide your mind and spirit with a break from the ego. Fasting and meditation can do wonders for consciousness, but the bus is a challenging place to practice mindfulness. Someone is bound to use the on-board bathroom after a Big Mac attack, stinking up the cabin from the back to the front. You’ll smell the farts of neighbors and the bad breath of the snoring passenger next to you as she unconsciously leans on your shoulder and drools. You’ll feel the kicks of the nervous feet twitching on the back of your seat. You’ll overhear the egotistical phone conversations of people who like the sound of their own voices. You’ll be offered drugs you’ve never tried and denied those that you’d like to use to numb your pain. You will be hit on, by men and women. You’ll quite possibly lose a piece of luggage, misplaced during a transfer. I would strongly suggest that you keep your valuables with you at all times. I also recommend that you pay attention to where the tires are and never choose the seats above them. The vibrations from the wheel wells provide for a nearly unbearable ride on bumpy roads. There is no first-class tickets on the bus folks; pick your seats wisely because you’re in for the long haul.
“Thank you for choosing Greyhound,” the driver says as he directs our attention to the front of the bus. He gives us a run down on the rules for the ride and some social advice that everybody seems to hear as an invitation to immediately headbutt. He does his version of a flight attendant’s safety precautions with hand motions and mumbled speech over the old-school radio…“There will be absolutely no drinking on this bus,” he says, and glug-glug goes the bottle behind me with a belch. “There is a bathroom on the back of the coach if you need to use it. Do not throw trash in the toilet! There are garbage cans at the front and the back for that. Please clean up your wrappers and don’t make a mess,” he says, and someone shoots a spitball in his direction missing terribly but hits the old woman in front of me right on the left ear. Undeterred, he says, “Also, please keep your cellular phone conversations to a volume that won’t disturb those in your general area. People do not want to hear your personal business,” and a woman a few seats back tells her lover on the other end of the phone that she fucked his best friend and that he is not the father of their child. The driver shakes his head in disgust and sits at the wheel. I feel like I’m on the way to a high school wrestling meet…
Hopefully the bus doesn’t get hijacked like in that movie, The Siege. I don’t wanna have to go all Denzel Washington on any terrorists (my body could be weak from fasting), but a strong hero tale would add some excitement to the story of my return. I’ll let you know when I arrive safely. Did you know Greyhound turned 100 last year? Check out this article (or at least read the words in the link if you won’t click it) and give the bus a try next time you’re in the mood for some adventurous travel. http://www.boston.com/business/news/2014/05/21/greyhound-turns-hijackings-accidents-decapitation-and-now-wifi/LwRQxSRlZdh4WVITtCNsrO/story.html