Slow Ride – Take it Easy

My wife and I just sold our second car. We work for the same company and generally stay close to home with our son, so it’s usually a non-issue. However, it does occasionally force us to get creative when one car does not suit our needs. I recently had the pleasure of escaping on a responsibility-free Guys Weekend that was almost derailed by a lack of transportation.

I needed to get to Raleigh to meet my brother-in-law. Our rendezvous had to happen on a Friday morning and my wife couldn’t miss work to take me all the way up there from Wilmington. I’d made an offer on Craigslist’s Ride-Share board to buy someone a tank of gas in exchange for a lift.  A few randoms responded but my wife put her foot down, doubting the intentions of my would be drivers, and fearing I would be raped, gutted and dumped in a nameless swamp off of I-40 long before I reached Raleigh.

 So I took the Greyhound.

 Riding the bus gets a bad rap. Most of us assume that this mode of transportation is kept alive solely by pitiful people who need to go from one depressing spot to another. Like Con Air on wheels, they imagine that a passing bus contains the dregs of society: the convict and criminal, the downtrodden and insane, the imbecile, the pedophile, the homeless and lost, all who need the combined momentum and refuge of a hulking tube of metal and exhaust fumes.  With a firm and self-righteous tone, let me state that those critics are wrong! The bus also contains comparatively normal people who don’t have a second car.

 But it wasn’t so bad.  There were maybe a dozen other passengers: college guys, one family, a smattering of solo riders, both men and women, one dreadlocked dude carrying a guitar case who demanded attention by having loud cell phone conversations and outer monologues between calls. Most everyone snoozed or read or zoned out on their iPods. Granted, there was one bearded, cross-eyed, sinister looking individual who sat near the bathroom and caught my eye for a second, but he was doing nothing more than sitting there with his freaky vibe and plotting something.

 I did suffer one unpleasantness during my voyage. I was maybe four rows up from the bathroom (bad choice on my part and I guess I could’ve moved but it was not a problem until late in the trip.) Someone took a crap on the bus. There’s nothing to churn your gut like a fresh, human bowel movement unloaded in your general vicinity. Either someone did it in the bathroom or the freaky, sinister looking gentleman had plotted to poop his pants. Whatever happened, it lingered in the back of the bus for several miles, settling like a fog and choking all the people in the rear seats who sat there and suffered in a quiet, polite agony. In that respect, a Greyhound bus is like a rolling Porta-John and I encourage any future riders to please try to hold it, and suggest that riders stay near the front, even going so far as sitting on the driver’s lap.

 Overall though, it was an enjoyable experience. It was a sunny morning and we followed a country 2-lane road north for most of the trip. The barren winter boondocks bounced along through the dingy windows and my spirit lifted with each passing mile.  There’s nothing like having someone drive you around. It’s nice. I read my Tom Robbins (who is a brilliant companion on any kind of trip), looked around at the other passengers, texted my buddies back at work, and basically tapped my foot to the beat of a laid back Friday morning with a wide open agenda.  The bus made three short stops between Wilmington and Raleigh to pick up more passengers and allow the people already on the bus to get off and grab a soda or inhale a cigarette.  So it took 45 extra minutes to get to Raleigh—big deal—it’s well worth it for the convenience and reasonable expense ($35 one way).

 The simple adventure of riding a public bus for a few hours has a way of connecting you to a serene state of consciousness that you would not get by driving yourself. So next time you need a perspective shift, hop on the Greyhound and let it take you someplace you’ve never been. Just sit up front.

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8 Responses to “Slow Ride – Take it Easy”

  1. I have a few Greyhound stories in me, maybe I’ll write about them one of these days. I, too, love the feeling of riding around without having to drive. Sun flashing through the trees, having to blink out sunlight when looking out the window, reading a good book mile after mile. It’s been some time since I’ve ridden a Greyhound. Makes me want to plan a short trip somewhere. Loved the story. But I have to agree with your family member that finding a ride on Craigslist isn’t the best idea. Can’t think of anything relaxing about that.

    • Thanks for stopping in–I enjoyed your site as well. I still want to catch a ride with a stranger just to experience what would be the most awkward chitchat of all time! Not relaxing, but definitely interesting.

  2. I can only imagine what the other passengers thought about you!

  3. I’m not sure where to find Mental Mudpies. Is it another blog? I didn’t see a link on the homepage of Luna.Phyte.

  4. Nice article, I once took a Greyhound from Wilmington to Chapel Hill, and it was a rousing experience to say the least, not from the port-jon factor, but from hanging out at the stops with the token dreadlocked musician that was on my ride. Heady times to say the least. I am commenting more by way of inquiry as to which Robbins book, as I am a huge fan and believe I have read them all unless he has released something in the last two and 1/2 years since my son was born and my reading time decreased.

    MKZ

    • I’m reading “Skinny Legs and All” but have read all of his novels I think. He is a genius. Hilarious and powerful with the same stroke and the unmatched champion of the metaphor and simile. I think My favorite is “Another Roadside Attraction.” But like you say, having kids will steal your reading time. I feel like I can only knock out a page or 2 at a time, which does interrupt the flow of a fine novel. I’m doomed to read children’s books for the next 5-7 years.

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