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Overheard on the Greyhound

Wednesday, January 30th, 2008

Hey guys, going to restart the travel blog, as I’m off to the sunny Caribbean shortly. Getting paid (not too much, don’t worry) to go to the Cayman Islands, Turks and Caicos and US and British Virgin Islands for a travel guide. Am going to try and blog from there, but I thought I’d post this email about the Greyhound trip, too, just for posterity. Hope all you readers are well!

Overheard on the Greyhound
Well, I’m here in sunny Phoenix, Arizona, at my sister Janet’s place, after a Greyhound ride that started in Madison at 8:45 pm on Saturday (rescheduled from Thursday so I could watch The Game – GO PACK!) and ended yesterday, Monday, at 5:00 pm. That’s 45 hours, 15 minutes for you math-challenged types, like myself. (Added an hour for time change to Mountain) If I’d realized what I was getting into, would I have gotten on the bus of doom? Probably. I’ve taken the Dog (props to Nicolle’s friend Colleen) before, but on shorter-haul trips, like Kansas City to Minneapolis and once from Flagstaff to LA, but nothing like this. I was going to photo-journal and blog my progression across the great USA, and my progression from semi-presentable citizen to disheveled mess, but I was too busy guarding my seat. Here’s the breakdown:

Where we stopped: Madison-Milwaukee-Chicago-Springfield, IL-St. Louis-Rolla, MO-Lebanon, MO, Springfield, MO-Joplin, MO-St. Louis, MO-Tulsa, OK-OK City, OK-Elk City, OK-Amarillo, TX-Albuquerque, NM-Gallup, NM-Homer, AZ-Winslow, AZ (not that cool)-Flagstaff, AZ-Glendale, AZ-Phoenix, AZ. The good news is that I was on the same bus from St. Louis-Phoenix. The bad news is that there was some heating malfunction on the bus, and I had to use my coat and sarong-thingy as a blanket the whole time. And keep the hood of my hoodie up. Also had to get OFF the bus at almost all those stops, so they could “service” it, etc.

What I ate: It was ugly, people, real ugly. The best (and only) restaurant we stopped at was McDonald’s yesterday for breakfast. That was the most well-balanced thing I ate. Otherwise, it’s a blur of Chex Mix, Cheez-Its and Keebler mini cookies. Also had some treats from Trader Joes. (Thanks KP!) Last night after a long scrub-down, I insisted that Janet transport me immediately to the Cheesecake Factory, my very favorite (chain) restaurant, where I proceeded to stuff myself silly and had to unbutton my new fat pants just to stand up after the meal.

How long I slept: Sleep? Who needs sleep?! Not me! I took the magical Israeli sleeping pills I’ve mentioned and: The magic has died. I guess they made me a little drowsy, but the magical side effects seem to have disappeared for me. Does anyone want to buy some sweet pills? They totally mess with your mind, man. I managed to get some sleep though, thanks in large part to a fuzzy neck pillow I borrowed from Jen. I’ve always thought those things were extra-dorky, but it saved my life. Longest uninterrupted run was about four hours between Amarillo and Gallup.

Who I shared my seat with: I managed to look mean and unfriendly for most of the trip and had a seat to myself. I shared with a large snoring man for a little while, and then when a seat opened up across the aisle, I was like “I think that one’s free.” Otherwise, just a few short-haul peeps.

Conversations overheard: By far the best part of the trip. The bus attracts an entirely more interesting group of people than flying, and I think it’s almost expected that you strike up a convo with your seat mate, whereas when you fly, there’s no such obligation, unless your seat mate happens to be a cute man without a wedding ring. Which has never happened to me, BTW. Since I rarely had a seat mate of my own, I had to eavesdrop. Our first specimen is a young lady who got on in Chicago. Think Britney Spears, only trashier. She sat behind me on the Joplin-Tulsa leg of the trip talking to some hippie dude, and was so funny I started writing down quotes. I think she knew I was listening though, so I had to put on my iPod and pretend to be listening to that. She was en route to Tulsa to see her family, and had to borrow dude’s cell phone to call them:

Instead of WWJD? let’s play WWW(hite)T(rash)D?

“Momma, I got some good news and some bad news for you when I see you. OK, the good news is I’m gettin’ married. The bad news is I’m leavin’ for North Carolina in two days.” Seems she met a young army man, on a previous Greyhound trip, and was moving to the base to marry him. Sounds cool, except that her son isn’t welcome – “I would take him, but they don’t allow kids on the army base. He’ll have fun with nana anyway.” She’s the mom of a 4-year-old, God help him. So, WWWTD? Yep, abandon the kid to live with the new hubby, so she’s leaving the kid with Grandma in Tulsa. Some snippets of conversation: “I raised him since I was 14 with no daddy. My baby’s daddy got shot.” (Which makes her 18). She is also recently divorced, she said, but “my ex-hubby ain’t the baby daddy.” When he gets old enough, she’s going to tell her son, “Your daddy was a drug dealer and he got shot.” She says “I’m glad he’s dead, cause he wasn’t there for me or my son.” Now she’s off to North Carolina and she won’t see him for two years. WWWTD? “When I come back, I’m going to come back with lots of moola, then he’ll love me cause I’ll make up for the two years by buying him shit.”

Junior does have some problems, though, as you can imagine. Seems he routinely bullies other kids, including some 11-year-old whose floatie he stole at the pool. He also likes to hurt animals and get drunk. At her wedding, he was drinking beer right out of the hose of the Bud Light keg (NOT making that up). WWWTD? Instead of stopping him, she decided to let him get wasted cause, “It taught him a lesson, cause he doesn’t know any better.” Um, mom? Isn’t that what you’re there for? He passed out in the bathroom on the floor at around 5 pm, but she was decent enough to bring him some blankets and make her friends use the other bathroom so he could sleep. “He didn’t wake up till 12 the next day and he had a hangover!” It was hilarious, and she got to sleep in! He’s also looking under her friends’ skirts at age 4 – “He’s gonna be a ladies man.” Uh, I think you mean date rapist. It was so bad, I thought she might be making it up. I think she knew I was writing down what she said though, and I started to get tired of her, so I plugged in the old shuffle and she shut right up.

Uneventful trip till Amarillo, I think, where we picked up a sack of crazy for the ages. “I’m crazy.” He said as he got off the bus in Phoenix. “I can prove it.” No need, my friend, no need. He sat next to the bus driver and talked to/at him for hours. And hours. Barely pausing for breath. Some tidbits:

On driving: “They took my driver’s license, cause I’m too good at it. I was going 120 cause I thought a nuclear war was going on and I thought my car could fly.”

On his ex-wife: “She only wants me for sex. That’s not a bad thing. She’s one of those type who gets really pissed off at me and then she wants to have sex. When we got done, she never held me, she just got up and walked away like a man.”

On personal hygiene, to the bus driver: “Have you ever worn a pair of shoes for four days?” Seems our hero was on the bus since the east coast somewhere, but it “sure beats the hell out of flying.”

To the bus driver: “Hey, what’s your name anyway?” The driver was like, “You can just call me Louie.” (Not his real name) Crazy said “I’ll just call you Richard, then when I get pissed off at you I can call you Dick.” Mostly he just called him boss.

Let’s see what else… He was going to go to Vegas, but “like 100 casinos have banned me. I’m too good.” He thought instead he might go to a casino here in Phoenix, and walk the 12 miles from the bus station. “An ordinary man couldn’t do that, you know.” It was remarkable, really, that the bus driver was able to keep it together. He kept hitting the brakes randomly though, I suspect to send crazy through the windshield.

That does it, people. See you in the Cayman Islands!