Man I have caught the Greyhound at least a hundred times. Everything that can possibly happen on the Greyhound has happened to me and I have seen it all. For those of you unfamiliar with the Greyhound, which I have rode in about thirty-states, the company features customer service on par with the middle-east and transportation about as fast as the pony express. If you are going a short distance, like NYC to DC or St. Louis to Chicago, then the Greyhound will actually work pretty good for most people. The problem comes when you have to catch it a long distance like I will be doing tonight when I ride from St. Louis to DC.
Every time I ride the Slimdog I say it will be my last; but then something happens and I end up back on the bus. For example this time around I was supposed to be riding with two brothers but when the one brother cancelled I basically ran out of options. I do not trust my 97’ Cavalier with 172,000 miles on it to make it back and forth, it is too late to get a good plane ticket, and I can’t find anyone’s credit card I can use to rent a car so it will be the Greyhound.
The Greyhound has unique demographics and if you go to a major terminal you will likely see the combination of the following; the Amish, young people heading to boot camp, soldiers on leave, parolees, people on the run, drug smugglers, undocumented workers, newly arrived immigrants, drifters, truckers, runaways, people scared of flying and those who are too poor or broke to travel any other way.
In recent months the Greyhound has cut out many of its smaller stops and is catering more to the urbanized areas of the country and this is cutting off the only out of area transport that many of these areas have. One place that the bus will still stop is at prisons. Sometimes one or two prisoners will get on and sometimes like twenty will get on. Usually the guys are nervous and well-behaved butI had the unfortunate experience of being on a bus when an eleven year old girl was assaulted in the back of the bus by a parolee. Another time I was on the bus in Chicago and two guys who had been in prison for years got off on the West Side stop and just stood on the corner for a few minutes looking both ways before they could figure out which way to go; that strengthened my belief that if you take someone out of society it should be your responsibility to appropriately put them back in
On other occasions I have seen drug raids on buses going to the west coast, sex scenes, all sorts of drugs being used, fist fights, melees, and nervous breakdowns. Once I was on a bus that was late leaving the New York Port Authority and then when we got to Philly the driver got sick and we had to wait an hour for the new driver. This driver was new and promptly got lost on the interstate and when it stated raining she told us that she couldn’t drive in the rain and pulled over to the side of the road. When she dropped us off in Columbus, OH we got a good driver; but in Indiana the air conditioning went out and he pulled over to a gas station in the middle of nowhere to try and fix it. The gas station was surrounded by wheat fields and looked like a scene out of Children of the Corn as a group of guys in jeans and overhauls just stared at us as they leaned on their trucks. After about an hour of fooling with the AC, in 1oo degree weather, we drove off again, and when we got about twenty minutes away we realized we had left an elderly Jamaican woman from Brooklyn at the station and when we drove back to retrieve her she was on he knees praying.
Another time on the Greyhound I was in an accident in Pennsylvania; it was minor but the accident happened while I was reading the Mossad expose “By Way of Deception” and it occurred to me for a second that we may be getting hijacked. The worst thing that happened to me however was when I was sleeping in the middle of the night on the bus and a 6’5 large-build Native American guys who was drunk passed out and landed on top of me and I had to fight to get him off of me. We ended up tussling for like an hour on and off and most people were asleep and the bus driver seemed to not care as long as it didn’t get out of hand. When we stopped to pick up in some small town most people went outside to smoke cigarettes or to go to the Subway and get a snack; this guy headed straight for the gas station to get some more liquor and when the driver saw that he decided to just leave him there and let him figure out another way to get to where he was going.
On another note for all of you in the St. Louis area please pick up a copy of the Arch City Chronicle particularly if you are interested in grassroots independent journalism. The ACC covers the people and politics of the St. Louis region. In the latest edition I have a commentary on the future of the Republican and Green parties in the City. Props to editor and publisher Dave Drebes for getting the circulation up to 20,000 and on his outstanding column in this editon.
Also, before I leave tonight, I will be attending the five year anniversary party for Subterranean Books, the new and used book store located in the Delmar Loop that is consistently rated one of the top in the area, and in my opinion one of the best indie books stores in the nation. The store is located at 6275 Delmar and is co-owned by Javier Parada and Kelly Von Plonski. Wherever you live I encourage you to support your indie booksellers whenever you have a chance. For a list of indie booksellers in your area you can consult booksense