On Greyhound, every journey is also a trip
So, I rode Greyhound round trip to San Francisco last weekend. My previous journeys on Greyhound had been in the late 80’s. so they had plenty of time to improve things. My memories of Greyhound included filthy, run down stations, dilapidated buses, strange and sometimes dangerous clientele, and long unexplained delays. My overall impression was that Greyhound served they very bottom end of the socio-economic market, people with no other transportation options. And because they had a pretty much captive audience, they could get away with anything. In the late 1980’s. if you absolutely had to go see your parole officer in Sacramento and you had no car and only $100 you borrowed from your mom, Greyhound was it, baby. And everything fit that mode.
So, how have things changed? Well, I was impressed that the stations were cleaner and not as torn up. Also, the buses were in much better condition. They even have outlets so you can charge your phone! Greyhound, getting it together! My ride to San Francisco was peaceful and uneventful.
But like a bad relationship, things went back to shades of the bad old Greyhound on the way back from S.F. First off was the station in San Francisco. I got a very thorough hand and wand search at the station there. I had never seen that in connection with riding Greyhound. But in S.F. they have signs everywhere proclaiming no drugs, not even marijuana, and no weapons are allowed. And they really mean it. The TSA could learn something from the security guard at the S.F. Greyhound station. They seem especially paranoid about marijuana, since S.F. is Stonerville.
But, hey, ok, they are trying to look out for my safety, no big. I had nothing of interest to them. Next stop, Oakland. I was reading a book and was suddently jolted by screaming at the front of the bus where people get on. A black family was there, with two crying little children, a huge black dude with a shaved head, and a small female. The female was screaming at the top of here lungs, (cleaned up for your gentle reading pleasure), “You stupid (black person)! Don’t you be grabbing my (vagina), you dumb (rear) (black person)! Nobody wanna see you grabbin’ my (vagina)!” The guy, who was at least 250 pounds, screamed back, “Shut up, (female dog)! I done paid for that (vagina)! I be grabbin’ it all day, (female dog)! You don’t say (feces) to me, (sexual act) (prostitute)!” This went on and on.
However, I quickly noticed that the visual cues did not match the auditory ones. Despite the profanity and aggression in the language, their eyes and body language wre friendly and, yes, strangely, quite loving. I figured out that was how this particular couple says “Bye honey. I love you and miss you. Be safe.” They just say it in a very different manner. Finally, they stopped and the woman and children got on the bus. Thank you.
Ok, now with that drama behind us, let’s get home: But first we have to stop in Modesto. Damn, there is a old guy in a motorized wheelchair trying to board in Modesto. And the wheelchair lift will not work. The driver folds and unfolds it over and over again. He calls people for advice on his cell phone. Oh boy. I know how stubborn Greyhound is about corporate procedure: they will fiddle with it all night if necessary. Then, they will wake up another driver someplace and send him in a replacement bus to come get everyone, even if that guy has to drive from LA or Sacramento or Las Vegas. And if that procedure takes twelve hours, so be it. I had court the next day, and the thought of still being marooned at the stop in Modesto for God knows how long just reminded me of the worst of Greyhound.
To make things more stressful, there were two, count them two, people screaming at the heavens at the bus stop at Modesto. One guy was obviously drunk to the point of oblivion and talking nonsense. The other guy appeared to be high on some really powerful drugs and was aggressively menacing other people at the bus stop, who tried their best to ignore him. So, I am thinking, “Oh God, this is about to become the toughest Greyhound bus ride ever. If these two idiots get on the bus, things are going to go downhill quickly. Yikes…” So, I prayed the lift would work and these two guys would not get on the bus.
Well, God works in mysterious ways. Once they told old feller that they were going to have to get another bus to come get us, he just stood up and walked on board. Why we didn’t think of that an hour ago, I don’t know. Drunk crazy dude did board the bus. But he passed out in a drunken stupor immediately, so he was no trouble at all except he was sprawled in the aisle. But relatively speaking, it was a victory. He was barely able to walk three quarters of the way down the bus before passing completely out. Nice timing. I hope he woke up wherever he was going.
Crazy dude high on drugs and trying to start fights didn’t even get on the bus. Perhaps it was a really slow day in Modesto and there were no other people to harass other than the other people at the bus stop. Or maybe he had a ticket and was too loaded to remember to get on the bus. Either way, it saved us another dangerous trip on Greyhound. Thank you, Jesus!
Now that we were considerably behind schedule, the bus driver put the hammer down and got us home within a reasonable margin of error from the original time estimate. Yay! It was a long and exhausting trip.