Saturday, June 8, 2013

Greyhound Stories Part 4

By the time this story takes please, Autumn of 2009, I had been traveling fairly regularly on the Greyhound and had learned all the secrets to an excellent ride. For example:

1. The bus station may forget to tell you when to board so just figure out your gate and slam your body against the door waiting. Do not move until they open the door to let you on the bus. 
2. Once on board get a window seat and pretend to fall asleep - people don't want to disturb you and will most likely not sit next to you until the bus is full. 
3. Holy poop, never sit in the back by the bathroom.  
4. Don't sit directly in front or behind children - vomit flies through the air with a surprising velocity. 
5. Be prepared to have awesome conversations with people. 
6. Except with the creepy guys who say you look like a 'sexy librarian'...more than once in a single conversation. 
7. You should probably have a fake name ready for these conversations.   

(I should note that these rules aren't just applicable for the greyhound. They are good rules for life in general)

For this particular trip I had followed the above rules, parked myself next to a woman reading a book, and was soon trying to catch up on all the sleep I wasn't getting in college.  But I quickly realized that this particular trip was not going to be filled with glorious napping; the lady who sat next to me really wanted to talk. About anything and everything - paying no head to my headphones and sleepy glares. Her age was hard to estimate; she had one of those faces where the lines are manifestations of hardship, not years. Somewhere between 30 and 50 is where I'd put my guess, but who knows if that is even close.

She talked about her job (she restored marble statues, which was actually really awesome), her convoluted love life (her rich boyfriend apparently wanted to marry her, she refused because it was not love. Or something like that) and why she got her butterfly tattoos (to remind her that you can always start over, and to never bring pain to her loved ones).

I know, you are probably thinking, "Seriously, how often do people tell you about their tattoo symbolism?" Not often enough, my friend, not often enough.

 Eventually in our rambling discussion she asked me where I was from. I mentioned my hometown, in Arizona. She immediately lights up and goes "Oh I know that place! I went to prison near there!!"
She then proceeds to warn me of the rough meth heads. "Dont worry," I say, "there is a reason I'm busing in the other direction."

We became friends after that.


Honesty time: I'm fond of these tales, and I enjoy sharing them. But when I decided to start writing them out for the blog I got hit with a crushing wave of anxiety: maybe I don't have the skill to tell these stories.

These aren't easy narratives. I am well aware that I am different from most riders I have met -- I am often economically wealthier, have a higher level of academic education, and sometimes of a different race. I have quite a bit of priveldge, and these stories have a real danger of descending into "I rode the bus, and then I found out that poor people have feelings too!!"

So I know I'm not writing the next In Search of Respect, and I am certainly not staring in a Hallmark movie. But I hope that I'm treating the subject well, and juggling the real, absurd situations with respect for the people who talk to me. If you disagree, feel free to tell me.

1 comment:

  1. I'm confused. I don't know anymore what is real and what is not.. maybe it's because of your writing style, I was hooked. I was like reading a diary with a twisted ending..

    I love your advice though about sleep-pretending but you cannot pretend the whole trip.. and that's when your seatmate will eventually talk to you. It's not that bad after all.