A Romance with Greyhound
trip is different in its own little way.
is just something so romantic about riding the bus. Any bus. When
it comes up to the terminal and you see that it is your bus ready
to load passengers, theres a certain excitement bubbling up
within you. You know that its time to go and you may be going
to someplace that youve been to a thousand times before, but
there is always that uncertainty about changes and what may happen
on the way there. Every bus trip is different in its own little
I distinctly remember
my first trip on Greyhound. I was nine years old, going from San Jose,
CA, to Sacramento, to see my dad. I didnt really know what to
expect. When I was dropped off at the station, there was so much confusion;
I wondered why my parents were putting me on a bus and not driving me
themselves. I mean, weve driven to San Jose numerous times; it
was only about 2 hours or so. But I got on apprehensively and the driver
pulled out of the station and I was on my way.
I was on maybe 5 minutes and I didnt know what to do. So I pulled
out a book and started reading. Then the driver asked me where I was
going. I told him and he seemed to take an interest in making sure nobody
bothered me. Nobody bothered me the whole trip. I got off in Sacramento
with no problems to report to my dad. It was actually an enjoyable experience
and I couldnt wait to do it again. I got that chance a month later.
Quite a few years later, I had to take the bus again. This time it was
from Tacoma, WA, to Roseburg, OR, to go to Job Corps, which was about
35 miles outside of town. That trip was a little more exciting- I was
older, 18 to be exact, a little wiser and was hoping to meet a few people
that were going to the same Job Corps center I was. I was lucky; I did
meet a few people. We sat there for 6 hours swapping horror stories
of what was going to happen to us when we first got there. We also tried
getting some beer, at a stopover, from some guy in Vancouver, WA, but
to no avail. We got back on the bus, disappointed, but still wondering
what was in store for us. Those last two hours from Eugene to Roseburg,
were the scariest. We were getting close and it was too late to break
free. We were doomed!
The bus pulled in to the Roseburg station and a staff member from our
awaiting Job Corps center was there, with a big goofy grin on his face.
As soon as we stepped out and got our luggage, he made us circle around
him and he welcomed us and told us not to worry, all the rumors we heard
were not true. He also told us that the first couple of weeks are kind
of rough, but not in a bad kind of way. "Adjusting takes time,"
he said, "Sure, some of them will try to get you, but
dont sweat it." His words didnt make it any better!
But, I will say, when we got there, it wasnt so bad, I adjusted,
and it was the best year of my life.
Some trips, though, are ones I wish I never did. I didnt really
have a choice with one of them. I had just gotten out of the army, eight
months pregnant and was thoroughly convinced they would get me a plane
ticket. Not so! They gave me a bus ticket from Ozark, AL, to San Francisco,
CA. This made me very angry and I tried to dispute it with the traveling
office, but to no avail. So, I took the ticket, thankful that I was
getting away from the military and waited for the day I had to leave.
The closer it got, I was actually getting excited about it. I was going
through country I had never seen before. I really thought it couldnt
be that bad, despite my big belly in the way and transferring luggage.
The day arrived. I waited almost an hour in Ozark and here comes my
bus, bound for Birmingham, my first transfer. I had no problems getting
my bags on the underside and my big-bellied self into a seat. All seemed
well for almost half the trip and then I got to El Paso, TX.
There was chaos everywhere! There werent any baggage people around
and I had to go to the bathroom - bad! So, begrudgingly, I gathered
up my bags, found a locker and went to freshen up. When I got out, there
were no free seats. My feet or ankles didnt hurt, and I had a
couple of hours to kill, so I walked around town. There wasnt
much to see or do; this was about six in the evening and most things
were closed. I debated going into Mexico, but decided not to for fear
of missing my bus, if I got too preoccupied.
I walked back, got my stuff out of the locker and sat down until they
started lining us up. I was one of the last people in the line. I had
to drag all my bags over to the line, and stand there for about 20 minutes.
By this time, my feet were hurting, and I really wished I hadnt
brought so much stuff with me. By the time I got to the front of line
to get my ticket checked, I was so relieved! A nice gentleman took my
bags, put them under the bus, and I walked up the little stairs
There were no free seats! Nobody even bothered to move, either. Finally
after a couple of minutes, a woman got up, gave me her seat and got
off the bus. Next thing I know, the driver comes on there, giving us
a lecture on giving up seats for people with children, the elderly,
pregnant women and disabled people.
Everybody just kind of sat there, in a hushed silence, for a few seconds.
The woman didnt come back on, despite a few more people getting
off. I dont know if she took the next bus or what, but I thought
her telling the driver of how inconsiderate people could be, was really
valiant of her. I felt bad, of course, I could have done it myself,
but at least I knew that there were some people that really cared for
others people welfare, especially when traveling.
The rest of the trip went pretty well. The Los Angeles stopover was
kind of a pain - it was almost four hours long, but I got through it
and arrived in San Francisco ten hours later with no problems. I had
to make the same trip again, on the same route, going back to Alabama.
That trip went pretty smoothly. When I got back I vowed never to ride
the bus again, at least not while I was pregnant.
Im not very good with holding promises, though. About a year and
a half later, I had to take the bus to from Ozark, again, to Birmingham
to catch a flight going to Oakland, CA. My son, a little over a year
old, was going with me this time, but hes a good traveler. I started
thinking of all that could go wrong. My trip when I was pregnant with
him brought back some bad memories. The trip went well, though, and
my son loved looking out the window. My faith was restored in Greyhound,
just from being on this four-hour trip. There is just something romantic
about catching the bus, sitting on it for hours at a time, the stopovers,
everything. Try it sometime! The experience may prove to be as romantic
for you as it is for me.
© Amy Thorpe
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