Upon telling my friends and family I was planning on riding the Greyhound bus alone to my spring break destination I received serious warnings and distressed looks.
The Greyhound has a bad rap, as I soon learned. The stations are notorious for theft and strangers invading your personal bubble. How could they not, when you’re packed onto a bus like sardines for X amount of hours? And you might be stuck sitting next to the crazy guy who enjoys talking to himself, or the newborn who won’t shut the hell up. My local station is particularly infamous for its crowd of homeless people loitering outside. The tickets are also quite cheap, suggesting close contact with those who cannot necessarily afford to fly first class every time they travel. Poor people? I can still feel my father’s shudders.
Needless to say, I ignored my father’s grocery list of concerns and rolled my suitcase up to the station as the rooster crowed 7 a.m. The attendant simply tagged my bag, which, as it turns out, I could check for free! Thus began the waiting. The numbered terminals were confusing, as my printed ticket didn’t specify where my bus would be rolling in, or really specify very much at all. But I soon learned that arrival locations were announced over a loud speaker. Way too paranoid and Type A to find an activity to occupy myself, I listened like a hawk for my bus arrival announcement.
My ride was peaceful. Yes, you heard me correctly. I slept like a baby as my bus traced the lake coast, only waking for the occasional stops to load and unload passengers. Among my four bus drivers were two common characteristics: friendliness, and ain’t-taking-no-shit-ness. Each was more than willing to answer passengers’ questions and they always kept us updated on what city we were in and when to get off. I even caught a few smiles. But, each driver wasn’t hesitant to lay down the Three Bus Commandments: no drinking, no smoking and no disturbing the driver or, “I will throw you off this bus.” As you can imagine, I was the most well behaved Greyhound patron around.
I did notice during my station layovers that everyone minded their own business. I wasn’t harassed for money or conversation or sex, or anything my friends warned me about. This was not too surprising. It’s a bus station, after all. People just want to get to their destination, so making it onto the right bus is slightly more important than annoying a bystander. Shocking, right?
Would I take the Greyhound again? Absolutely. Maybe I just got lucky for my first Greyhound experience, but I truly wonder why more people don’t take advantage of this public service. I paid $80 round-trip to sleep soundly on a bus and arrive at my destination of choice on time. And if that ain’t happy trails, then I don’t know what is.