riding the bus to death

so last week i took a bus to florida and back.

it was almost thirty hours long, one way.

i have spoken a bit about it, but now that i’ve had some time to reflect, i’d like to share more.

riding the bus is kind of fun and exciting.

there’s lots of opportunities for people-watching, and even talking to some of them.

there’s a sense of community on the bus, as fifty-some people slog it out at stop after stop after stop. at the bust stations, as opposed to gas stations or truck stops, everyone piles in, and sits down, with a sigh which means, “this just blows, huh?”

and you kind of nod or mumble some sort of assent — “yah, it blows alright.”

at gas stations or truck stops, where no one new is getting on or off the bus, you have to rush to get back to the bus on time, because the driver doesn’t go through any steps to ensure everyone’s there.

it is simply your responsibility to be on the thing when it pulls away.

i am sure a couple people got left along the way to florida.

seats that had people before suddenly did not — but their stuff was still there.


there were exactly zero people i met on the bus rides that i would actually want to spend any real time with. i chatted with several people, of all ages, sexes, colors, and none of them were interesting in the least. most were just plain dumb, and while i hate sound so harsh, it simply was a fact, and there is no two ways around it: the intelligence level of the people i spoke to on the bus was astoundingly low.

the person who most qualified as “interesting” was only so because she was so very stubborn about talking. (this was good for me, since i’m so bad at carrying conversations.) but she needed no help from me. she just kept talking, and talking, and talking.

i learned about a whole lot of things in her life. her kids, her boyfriend(s), her mom, her “schoolin'” her new job “drivin’ rigs” and
her ex husband.

one cool thing about her was her hair. she had one of those birthmarks that made a two-inch spot of her bangs perfectly white, while the rest of her hair was dark brown.

i thought that was really neat, actually.

the only time either ride that i didn’t feel safe was on the way home. somewhere in tennesee, the pleasant and quiet older black gentlemen i was sitting next to got off, and was replaced by a late-thirties white guy. this dood had full-on yanni hair, complete with molester mustache. he climbed up onto the bus, and i was like… “oh, no…”

sure enough, he sat next to me.

he smelled funny.

not like B.O. (and believe me, there’s plenty of that on the bus) but just not right.

he said that he had had to stay behind and “finish a job” while his boss had gone on ahead to the next one. i believe he was referring to construction of some sort, and that may well have been the source of the offending odor, but still, it took me almost twenty minutes before i stopped noticing it.

then there was simply the “vibe” this guy was giving off.

i was totally creeped out, and i really have nothing i can point to and say, “that! that’s why!”

i was glad when he got off the bus.

there was one older black lady, on the way home, who i knew as soon as i spotted her at the bus stop would be the bane of my ride.

she was heading to chicago, which means she’d be on the bus the whole time i was.

and she did not stop talking, loudly, during the entire trip.


now, i am a patient person, really. i don’t get annoyed with people easily, and i am fairly forgiving when they do annoy me.

but there were a couple times that i thought i was going to lose it with this lady — and i was wearing headphones for most of the trip. i only had to listen to her during stops.

i can’t imagine how people who didn’t bring ipods dealt with the racket.

seppaku, maybe?

Listening to: Fill My Cup from the album “Liquid Skin” by Gomez

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1 thought on “riding the bus to death

  1. When my brother and I were younger, we used to ride Greyhounds all the time to visit my aunt. We were just going to Grand Rapids, so it was a significantly shorter trip. Still, I definitely agree with your assessment of bus trips. My most vivid memory is of a man clipping his fingernails, then his toenails, and dropping the clippings in the aisle. Mmm…

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