November 15, 2013

Around the World on a Greyhound Bus

By Stephon Boatwright In On the Road

The circumference of the Earth is 24,901 miles.  According to my Greyhound Road Rewards (the frequent flyer equivalent for us Greyhounders), I’ve made 92 one way trips between Syracuse and New York City, 25,116 miles in 460 hours; take that Earth!  That’s not counting the dozens of trips I’ve taken but forgot to sign into Road Rewards, nor the times I took Megabus (forgive me Greyhound).  All in all, I’m probably halfway to going around the world again.  And folks, when you spend that much time on a bus you see some things.

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I’ve been on buses with no AC in August and others that had no heat in January; I’ve seen the soft orange glow of flames coming from the engine illuminate the walls of the Port Authority bus station, as the coach belched thick smoke into the night air; I’ve fallen asleep on beautiful strangers who were too kind to wake me, and I have been fallen asleep on by more obese men to count; I’ve made friends with a Canadian mother taking the treacherous 12 hour ride from NY to Toronto to see her daughter for Xmas.  Another time I made a friend from Kentucky who offered to drive a complete stranger, dressed like AC/DC guitarist Angus Young, two hours out his way because they had missed their bus.  I’ve caught glimpses of Rhiana and Lady Gaga in Times Square while waiting for the bus to depart;  I’ve been hit on by homeless men, women, and cross-dressers; I’ve seen a driver jokingly state that our “coach” (never a bus) was heading express to Miami Beach and sent a Serbian couple into a panic.  I know the exact point to look right in the Delaware Water Gap and catch a glimpse of the Appalachian Trail, and the exact points to look up and catch the first views of Syracuse or the Manhattan Skyline.  I’ve devised ways to make sure I am the last person on the bus you would ever want to sit with, and also ways to not smell like the distinct funk the busses have when I get off.

I feel like the experience has made me tougher, my tolerance for aggravation has had to go up quite a bit in order to deal.  With grad school coming to an end though, so will my weekly trips to and fro; yippie!!!!  From there on out I’ll ride when I need a lift to a trailhead someplace, but until then I have a few more months of the circus which is Greyhound, a circus I appreciate very much.  So I leave you with the words of my favorite driver:

“I hope you enjoyed the ride and have a pleasant day.  Remember to cover your mouth if you need to cough, no one wants your germs. Take care and God to bless.”

4 Comments
  1. Jake Dean November 16, 2013

    As a Greyhounder myself, I can appreciate your insight. I used to ride it from Syracuse to Albany pretty often, and more recently, from Seattle to Portland. You get to meet some really interesting people; some better at the hygiene thing than others, but interesting nonetheless. There is something to be said about seeing the world at slightly above street level.

    Reply
  2. Stephon Boatwright November 18, 2013

    I never knew you were a fellow Hounder! You need to take a long ride on a Japanese bus and tell me how it compares.

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  3. Jake Dean January 19, 2014

    As a matter of fact, I recently have taken a long ride on a Japanese bus! Unfortunately, it was a "sleeper bus", which I'm not certain they have in the States. Basically, each seat is equipped with a giant hood over the headrest that folds down over your face, and the seats recline back enough to be comfortable sleeping. On top of all that, all the windows on the bus have black-out curtains so its very dark. So, as you can imagine, I didn't see much on the ride from Tokyo to Misawa, but I did get a lot better sleep than I usually do on the Greyhound.

    Reply
  4. Stephon Boatwright February 28, 2014

    I'm so immensely jealous I don't know what to say! If I had a hood to block out my neighbors I'd pay extra!

    Reply

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