Not the Love Bus

It has been a long time since I graced these virtual pages with an eloquent tale of romance and victory. You will continue to wait. This is a story I though I had already told. It is a story that has left an indelible mark upon Mike, and now so it shall mark you.

Let’s hasten back to our freshman year at UB. I had completed my first semester, and has spent my break back in New Mexico with my family. Boy, what a mistake. Spending four weeks with them conquered me of ever needing to spend more than a few consecutive days with them. My month-long semester break was over. I had used the time to reflect. I had discovered I had some annoying behaviors that I decided to stop, and I had decided I wanted to move out of mechanical engineering and into computer science. Unfortunately I was too scared to switch majors after only one semester so I stuck with engineering for the rest of the year, and it became crystal clear I was correct as I spent less and less time on my engineering studies. Be I am jumping ahead. The long and short of it was it was time to head back to Buffalo, and I was going to travel by bus.

Why on earth volunteer to take the bus across the country? Well, it was not exactly voluntary. My parents were still my primary source of income, and my father felt that taking the bus was a good experience. Just like how on family vacations he felt it was best to start the day by 7AM and was angry I was wasting the opportunity by sleeping in the car instead of staring out the window as we rolled back endless amber waves of grain and cows across the mid-lands.

Knowing this would suck going into it, but ecstatic to get away form my family again, I was willing to take the blow and hightail it out of Dodge, Dodge actually being almost eight hours further east than Albuquerque would have been a blessing. So I purchased my bus ticket, and two days later my father dropped me off at the Albuquerque bus station and I sprinted inside to board my Greyhound. I was to be a 38 hour trip, with 2 stops to transfer buses. Not so bad since they drive through the night, and I figured I could sleep away much of that time. By the end it took 50+ hours. Keep in mind this was the pre-iPod days.

The first leg was the longest. It was a 12 hour drive to a bus transfer. It was early evening when I left Albuquerque, incidentally we took a left turn out of town. I boarded what was the most jam-packed vehicle of any kind I have ever seen before or since. Even though I always board vehicles early so I have a solid choice of seats, I got one of the last few seats. There were several old people and families with many small children who also boarded early. Luckily the last seat was with the only other lone traveler, a 20-something black man who clearly did not subscribe to single-serving friends (a la Fight Club) as I did not. We sat next to each other for 12+ hours in silence. Each of us listening to our walkman and sleeping. Our only communication was the occasional nod or eye roll at the family who took the several rows behind us. This family consisted of a dad who did nothing, a frantic mom, and 3-6 screaming children. I saw 3-6 because they moved in a chaotic cloud of constant motion that made it nye impossible to count them. Kicking seats, running up and down the isle, screaming, poking, etc. My seat-mate and I kept them at bay with an aura of hatred with apathy and disgust. Honestly I did 90% of the work here, providing him a shield, as I had the isle seat. Maybe this is where my desire to procreate dissolved.

When we finally arrived, they took out a giant Spam key and unfurled us like oily sardines, and after that trip we were all oily. Not having a window seat, and avoiding all eye contact I had not surveyed the landscape until I was peeled out the bus. As I made a slow 360 to force blood to once again pump through my extremities, I saw we were literally nowhere. In every direction I was nothing but sand. There was only the bus station. A lone sign of civilization. I wondered if I had slept through the Apocalypse.

The station was one giant room, with a counter, and a lot of seats. They did have the seat TVs, but I had spent my change on the vending machines, and the mutt behind the counter had never heard of quarters.

To enhance our experience they gave us two choices. The transfer bus was overbooked, picking up several lost souls at this station – and I think they were literal wraiths, so we could cram onto the bus that was leaving in 10 minutes, or wait FOUR FUCKING HOURS for another bus. Myself, and two others, including my former seat-mate elected to wait four hours once we learned the later bus would be virtually empty. I had suffered through 12+ hours of excruciating hell already, what was a few more? At least it would be quiet without those damn kids.

I can’t recall how I spent those four hours. Due to the boredom and heat I entered a zombie-like state, and not the fast-moving zombies that are popular today. I was ecstatic, sweaty and exhausted when the bus finally arrived. The wait was well worth it. My row-mate and I joined only three others on the newer bus that had cushy seats and working AC. Did I forget to mention this first bus had half-ass AC and seats one level above the shit bench seats you get on a yellow school bus. I boarded and we sped off above a relative heaven of transportation. A business-class womb with wheels.

I was so enthralled by the new bus that I have no idea what happened until I pulled into the next bus station for my final transfer. According to my original itinerary I should have been setting foot in Buffalo, but due to my self-induced delay I had to wait several hours for another bus. This bus at least knew what the concept of change was, and had some surrounding structures and populace.

I wasted most of the time here studying the Amish family who was also waiting. I was fascinated that the Amish were taking a bus. I was also certain an explosion of famed Amish anger would take place at any moment. The family consisted of a father, mother, and two boys (about 10 and 12); all very Amish looking. What keyed me into the potential entertainment, was not just their handling of their misplacement in modern society (albeit this cruddy bus station was hardly the height of modern society), but that both boys had two black eyes. Was this the result of an improper churning of butter, or a disastrous raising of a barn? I have no experience with the Amish, other than buying a delicious pie on the side of the road once, so I make no commentary on them as a whole. No smiting of furious anger took place. They boarded their bus without incident, but the purpose was served; I had passed the time.

My final bus ride proceeded without incident. I arrived at the downtown Buffalo bus station. Finally, home again! Damn. My trip was not yet over. I had to get my ass back to the Amherst Campus. I struggled my bulky luggage the several blocks from the bus station to the train and managed to board. I spent an uncomfortable ride back to Main Street Campus. All the while I was made more uncomfortable because I had not purchased a ticket, relying on my pitiful looking state as payment enough for any ushers.

I was able to get a ride from Louis back to the Ellicott Complex. That was no joy.

I finally made it home. I derided the bus as the worst form of transportation ever. I vowed to never ride a bus again when traveling greater distances than across the city. I have made many vows in my life, but none was more serious. This is also the only one I have ever kept. The bus sucks.

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