8/19/08

let the big dog run

When you ride Greyhound, strangers offer you booze out of plastic bottles and illegal drugs and sometimes sexual favors. I once saw a young woman work the same fellow for a couple hundred miles, getting lunch and sodas and attention from him all the way across Texas, only to be picked up by her girlfriend in El Paso.

When you ride Greyhound, you get to see paroled prisoners in county issue suits, newly free again, dig into huge fast food meals. They suck down milkshakes and gobble hamburgers and seldom look straight at anyone. Out west, authorities pull the bus over and go down the row asking names and where you were born, and lord help you if there's some Spanish in your English. When you ride Greyhound, you watch old men in sheepswool-lined denim jackets get pulled off and herded into trailers set up in dusty pull offs, left behind as we roll back onto the highway.

When you ride Greyhound at night through the desert, far off towns become stars in an ink spill sky. I could never go into space, because that feeling of tumbling through the void while cold lights blink at you and the only thing louder than your breathing is the engine keeping you aloft scared me witless until I opened my eyes to the dawn chasing us.

When you ride Greyhound, everything is further away than you think.

12 comments:

Ms. Moon said...

That was beautiful.

downtown guy said...

Thank you. Did I mention I'm going to DC next week?

Magnum said...

And you'll get to stop at every Hardees on the way and sleep on the soft shoulder of a very large woman.

Ahh, the wafting of recycled Hardees...

B.E. Earl said...

I used to ride Greyhound from my parent's house on LI to college up by Albany, NY.

Longest effing ride of my life!

downtown guy said...

I always wind up being the one getting slept on. I did learn that if you want a seat to yourself, your best bet is to pack sardine sandwiches for lunch.

downtown guy said...

My longest ride was Florida to south Cali and back again. That was too much.

EDP said...

You really have a way with words! I haven't ridden Greyhound since college, but this took me back. There really is something about sharing a bus for hours at a stretch with total strangers. And I remember when you could smoke on board.

downtown guy said...

EDP: In 2000, I saw a woman get put out of the bus by a payphone in the middle of nowhere, Texas, for lighting up a smoke and then cussing out the driver when he told her she needed to hold off for the next stop. She looked so surprised that he would actually do that.

EDP said...

Wow. I guess that woman REALLY needed a cigarette!

tallycast said...

I love riding the dog. I miss the "full service" Greyhound stations of the past that had showers.

LoPo said...

Well, does riding the bus in Mexico count? Once I got on in Patzcuaro bound for Mexico City, and a country man sat down next to me. Poor him. Next to a gringa. But I don't drink Coke so I offered him the Coke they gave me and then he had TWO COKES! So then we settled in comfortably next to each other for the 5 hour trip except for the few minutes when he was in a panic because he couldn't find the Coke he was saving. I found it under my seat. I got to be goodwill ambassador twice. I love Mexican buses. They even show American grade B movies, and can't go faster than 55 mph. :) Does Greyhound show movies?

downtown guy said...

No, but sometimes Peter Pan buses do. That's what they have up north sometimes. For the record, this trip wasn't bad, but no one gave me a coke.