Here I am sitting on a Greyhound bus on my way to Mohegan Sun Casino in Connecticut to visit one of my best gals (not to gamble — I don’t gamble; you know that). It’s been a long while since I’ve taken a bus but having attended college in upstate NY, and subsequently making friends from upstate NY, I’ve logged my fair share of hours on buses. Never before though have they offered me Wi-Fi (working) and electric outlets (not working).
I can’t help but reminisce about some of my previous bus-riding experiences, one in particular that popped into my head when a girl at the last stop boarded holding a stuffed animal.
It was my freshman year of college at Brockport, a good eight-hour drive from my hometown, and for some reason I was taking the bus home for Spring Break — this was in JetBlue’s early days when they were the only plane with personal TVs and still cost only $99 from Buffalo to NYC. It wasn’t a public bus but rather a campus-organized shuttle for those of us who had jumped on the chance to go to Uni as far away from home as we could get.
It was scheduled to stop near Penn Station in Manhattan and then in Long Island.
Eight+ hours into our journey, we pulled over a few blocks before our scheduled stop (although this was my pre-citified days so I had no idea where we were). When they didn’t open the doors for us to get off, and instead welcomed two cops onto the bus, we all began to panic.
They walked down the aisle looking at each of us, one by one. WTF?
Then, one by one, row by row, we were asked to get off the bus. I grabbed my jacket, backpack and the big stuffed dog I had brought with me to serve as a pillow.
“Ahhh, bring your teddy with you?” the cop mocked.
“Ummm, yeah?!” Probably shouldn’t be a wise arse to the cop, Liz!
All but one of us got off the bus and as we stood outside for close to an hour, the story unfolded.
Apparently, the student being questioned had been in an argument with another student during our rest stop. The cop overheard him threaten to ‘shoot the guy’ when he arrived in the city. Actually, maybe it was ‘stab the guy’… the details escape me but it was scary and life threatening. The “threatener” told the “threatnee” that ‘his boys would be there waiting for him,’ or something as equally intimidating, ‘when he got off the bus.’
Mind you, we were all 18-19 years old.
So as this story unfolded, I somehow got the message — this was before I was on mobile comm but vaguely remember borrowing someone else’s mobile — to my boyf who was waiting at our scheduled drop-off location to collect moi.
My fellow riders and I started to get antsy as our friends and family started getting wind of the situation and came to find us. The bus driver, when we asked if we could just get our stuff and go, laughed at us and said, “No, you have to get off at the scheduled place. We can’t just drop you here!
At this point the cops had come off the bus and opened up the luggage compartment in search of said threatener’s luggage. Now, this next observation I kid you not.
I worked my way into the crowd forming to see what they were searching for – the cops pulled off one of those Tupperware-type bucket containers that all college students have piled in their closet, wrapped in chains.
With a big padlock on the top — it triggered the image of a trunk secured with chains from a version of A Christmas Carol.
I’m being serious.
My fellow riders and I began to get pushy and started demanding that we be able to get our bags and get the eff out of there. The bus driver laughed again saying, “No way! You’re High School students!”
“WHAT? No we are not, we are in college.”
“Oh,” he looked at us surprised, “Sure, you can go whenever you want then.” Jack arse!
My parents hadn’t been too keen on the fact that I had chosen to have my boyf pick me up in the city instead of taking the bus to the safety of the suburbs. But after hearing about the padlocked Tupperware they were grateful he was there — and therefore grateful for my obnoxious independence and insistent disregard of their wishes.
I grabbed my bag and hopped into my boyf’s supped up Supra with Teddy Dog in tow.
And after finding out that the remainder of the trip to the suburbs took twice as long as it should have because of a traffic jam on the Throg’s Neck Bridge due to an attempted suicide [threat?], we were even more grateful.
Needless to say, that was the last time I took the bus home from university — at least until I transferred.
My subsequent bus adventures, however, were still interesting. It wasn’t until I took one of the Chinatown bus companies to Syracuse and sat in front of a non-English movie that could classify as soft Asian porn for close to 4 hours while sitting in Friday-evening Manhattan traffic — again, I kid you not. Almost 4 hours to get from the east side of Chinatown to the Holland Tunnel — that I swore off buses all together. It was after that trip that I graduated to Amtrak…
a much more reliable and comfortable method of travel sans potentially life-threatening and pornographic entertainment.