Several years ago I was shocked and horrified when I heard about the man who was stabbed, beheaded, and eaten on a Greyhound bus.
That was before I had ridden a Greyhound bus.
When our bus pulled in to Iowa City roughly 35 hours after leaving Montana, I remembered that story, nodded to myself, and thought, “That sounds about right.”
Let’s back up.
On Sunday we got towed to Bozeman, Montana to wait on news of our van. We checked in to the cheapest room at the Royal 7 Budget Inn Motel, which far surpassed the quality of our apartment in both spaciousness and T.V. awesomeness, and where I left Doug to deal with insurance people while I laid in our big bed to enjoy our extended vacay by watching re-runs of How I Met Your Mother and taking a four-hour nap.
On Monday we were finally told that our van was totaled. And that all rental cars within a two-hour radius were booked until the beginning of October.
Our most feasible options ended up being:
A) Greyhound bus
C) Quitting our jobs and re-starting our lives in Bozeman, Montana.
At 2am that night we showed up to the bus station with half our stuff crammed in a large suitcase we had purchased at Walmart an hour before and the other half of our stuff left in piles throughout our motel room as an offering to the cleaning ladies.
We were told to get to the bus station an hour early, 2am, but got there only to find out the bus station doesn’t even open until 3am anyway.
Anyway. When the bus pulled up, all of the bus people started filing out for their hourly five-minute smoke break.
These are some of the people we watched get off:
-A very skinny man shaking uncontrollably
-An extremely large woman whose pants only came halfway up her waist, leaving her entire naked butt exposed
-A fifteen-year-old girl and her baby
-An accountant from California traveling to see his niece perform in the baton-twirling semi-finals in South Bend, Indiana
-A young man in bright blue shorts telling a friend about a pill he found that keeps him high for ten hours
-A group of thugs who immediately walked over to the outside window sill of the bus station to start packing K2 synthetic marijuana in to a pipe (one of them loudly announcing, “You know, this stuff is illegal now”).
Doug and I held our bags close and ventured on to the bus, where many more bus people were asleep in their rows, leaving only aisle seats open. Doug and I were unable to sit by each other for the vast majority of the trip.
Over the next 35 hours, many characters would come in and out of our lives. Cincinnati Homeboy and The Traveling Salesman being two of the most memorable.
Cincinnati Homeboy joined our bus sometime in Colorado. “Yeah yeah yeah what up!” He shouted as he got on, waking me from the lightest sleep of my life. “Who’s excited to be on our way to Denver, one of the three green card states in the nation? Oh yeah, best weed in the country! Now who wants to sit with me? Who wants to sit with a Cincinnati Homeboy?” He proceeded to spend the rest of the ride on the phone, alternatively with his baby’s mama and his baby’s mama sister, alternatively abusive and apologetic.
I was excited to lose him when we got off to transfer in Denver. But when we got on our next bus heading to Omaha, Cincinnati Homeboy was already making his way down the aisle of that bus like a game-show host. “How’s everyone doing today? Who wants to sit with a Cincinnati Homeboy?” An eighty-year-old man walked by confused. Homebody reached out for a high-five. “How’s it going, Paps?”
Meanwhile, a scraggly guy ran onto the bus only to be removed by the driver who grabbed him and shouted, “Get your ass out of here!”
“This is bullshit!” called scraggly man. He then went into the station and came back out with his old driver, holding his ticket in his hand. He was then allowed back on the bus long enough to retrieve a backpack and a dirty child’s blanket, stopping to yell back at that driver, “I don’t care, I’ll kick his fucking head in!”
The bus started and our new driver came on the speaker to make an announcement. “Everybody watch their language on the bus. And no drugs or alcohol. If you are caught doing drugs on the bus you will be ejected at the next stop.”
“Oh fuck!” Cincinnati Homeboy called out. “I wanted to come on here and have a good time. But no sir- better get the fuck off of this bus. Better get the fuck off if you want to have a good time because no good times are allowed on this bus!”
The driver tuned him out by starting The Chronicles of Narnia on the small bus T.V.s.
“What is this shit?” said Cincinnati Homeboy. “Put on some porno! Hey, I got YouTube, I can put it on my phone and hold it up to show everyone. What’s everybody’s favorite kind of porn?”
We bid our final farewell to Cincinnati Homeboy when we got on our final bus in Omaha, where I sat next to a lady with a blanket over her head who Doug suggested might be dead. Everything smelled decidedly like pee, and I was wondering if everyone smelled this or if it was specific to my seat and maybe Blanket Lady had a bladder control issue when someone several rows back shouted, “This bus smells like fucking piss!”
It was pretty gross. Little did I know that a few hours later I would be longing for the smell of piss when everything started to smell like diarrhea.
I guess Blanket Lady was on to something.
Well here I am at the end of my post and I’ve completely forgotten to even mention The Traveling Salesman. He was this 20-year-old punk headed to his first day of work as a traveling salesman. (How he got hired by anyone for anything I’ll never understand). He was heading to Kansas City (his company paid for his bus ticket- he couldn’t remember which company he was working for though) but decided when we got to Denver that it was bullshit that he had to work tomorrow so he texted his employer “I’m going to take tomorrow off, ok?” to which his employer responded “No. Haven’t you ever done this before?” (He read this all out loud to the bus). So I can only assume he is no longer a traveling salesman. Also he talked openly about his extensive gum deterioration and how food hurts his tooth and dentists are afraid of him, but whenever I brought out food he stared at me until I gave him some.