Why can't Greyhound be like this? Yeah, I know what you're saying - "BLARG THAT'S A PARTY BUS GREYHOUND CAN'T DO THAT". I humbly disagree, for I believe that a party can happen anywhere. Even on an inter-city bus. Inter-city buses are where they need parties the most.
I’d like to formally apologize for last week’s update. If you’re thinking, “Good – it wasn’t particularly funny and had very little of the form or structure that makes your blog The Greatest Non-Pornographic Thing On The Internet”, then you’re wrong, because I’m not apologizing for that. I’d had perhaps 4 hours of sleep in the past 24 at the time that I wrote that update – four hours of sleep on a friend’s lumpy green couch in the slums of Eugene whilst he engaged in delights unimaginable at his girlfriend’s house across town, the sort of soiree to which I had not been invited, the strength of our friendship notwithstanding. I’d had a long day after my long night, and so when I returned to the apartment at 1:00 AM, the last thing I’d wanted to do was write a blog entry about my experiences on the Greyhound coming to Eugene. It’s really hard to be witty and verbose when you can barely stay awake; this is why most comedy writers abuse amphetamines instead of sedatives.
But I digress – that’s not what I’m apologizing for.
Last week’s update wasn’t just mediocre, it was an outright slap in the face to what little journalistic integrity I pretend to have. It wasn’t hard hitting and it wasn’t of any use to you, the reader – for that I apologize. Last week’s update was a Friday insert in the Flihova County High School Newspaper, a tongue in cheek essay about the eccentricities of bus travel that, in some circles, could be seen as an advertisement for Greyhound. Nowhere in my update did I attempt to smack the reader in the face with the slimy dead salmon of The Truth; nowhere did I dig deep into the Subject Matter soil with my Word Shovel and painstakingly excavate the much heralded Story Behind The Story, nowhere did I grasp that glistening, ambiguous mass and hold it upward toward the light for all to behold. You must accept my apologies for subjecting you to such one dimensional, lazy, I Love The 80s Strikes Back material. I hope that I can somehow remedy the situation by finishing today the job I started this past Wednesday. Allow me to open with a joke:
The Greyhound Bus Company walks into a bar. The bartender says,
“Hey! We’ve got a drink named after you!”
The Greyhound Bus Company says,
“Wow! You’ve got a drink named ‘Bunch Of Good-For-Nothing, Limp-Dick, Pissant Motherfuckers’!?”
“Ho ho,” You chortle to yourself. “Truman’s using hyperbole once again to prove his mild dissatisfaction with Greyhound.” No, sorry, that’s not it at all. I choose my words carefully (not enough people say pissant anymore, wouldn’t you agree?) and I mean every one of them – Greyhound is a wholeheartedly corrupt entity which ought to be destroyed for the good of all mankind, preferably by sending a couple of pro wrestlers to infiltrate their headquarters and blow shit up a la They Live.
Maybe my understanding of capitalism is flawed. I will admit that I’m not good at economics, but I thought that it was reasonable for me to expect that, when I spend $24 on a bus ticket from Eugene to Portland on August 20th, 2008, departure time 6:20 PM, that I can expect to end my day on a Greyhound bus heading north. That’s how I think it works. I didn’t spend $24 to not ride a Greyhound, and yet, that is exactly the experience Greyhound provided me with. So maybe that’s what they’re doing now; maybe, instead of being a company that gives people rides on buses, Greyhound is a company that doesn’t give people rides on buses. Maybe that’s their thing. Perhaps Greyhound just really likes dicking good people over, and when there are no good people left to dick over, then they dick people like me over. I suppose that business plan has some merit – God knows it works for Wal*Mart.
My friend dropped me off at the Eugene Greyhound station at 5:00 PM, well over an hour before my bus was due to leave, as the pissants at Greyhound advised. Things got off to a bad start right away when I saw a sign explaining that the 6:20 Greyhound to Portland was going to be two hours late. And yeah, that sucked – it sucked like a chest wound inflicted by a gun that shoots black holes – but I realized that complaining loudly to everyone in the bus station about it would do nothing to get the bus there any faster. Thereafter, when I complained loudly to everyone in the bus station, I did it purely for my own entertainment.
I sat in the Greyhound station for an hour and a half until the ticket agent received a phone call and announced to us that our bus had stopped in Medford – a full two hours away – and the driver was refusing to go any further, saying that there was something wrong with his bus. Now, I’ve got to agree with the bus driver, because there was something wrong with his bus: It was being operated by Greyhound. Never before have I encountered a company this old that still sucks as badly at what it does. I mean, I’m not going to go and say that it’s easy to run a bus line, but I imagine that after doing it for 93 chuffing years I’d have most of the kinks worked out.
So, at this point, Greyhound has made a pretty big fumble. They’re operating a bus with mechanical problems driven by an employee lacking the suitable Man Parts™ to shepherd his malfunctioning eight-ton rolling freakshow through the rest of his route – clearly, affirmative action has forced Greyhound to start hiring mega-weenies. Sometimes the cooling unit in the soft-serve machine breaks, but do I stop making milkshakes? No! I sack up and I do my fucking job!
Greyhound went for damage control, and shortly thereafter we were informed that a replacement bus was being sent out. However, since the Oregon Greyhound headquarters is in Portland and the malfunctioning bus (and its passengers) was in Medford, some 273 miles away, the replacement bus would have to travel south all the way across the state to Medford, pick up the abandoned passengers there, and then resume the route all the way back up to Portland. The ticket agent helpfully told us that this would mean our bus would be here in “about eight hours, at 3:00 AM”, and then reminded us that the bus station closed at 9:00 PM, so we’d have to wait outside.
And, oh yes, it was raining.
I cashed in my ticket for a refund, used the money to buy a ticket on the 5:30 AM Amtrak train to Portland the next morning, and then walked 12 blocks in the rain to a Courtesy Inn near the train station and, thanks to my parents’ willingness to part with $60.00, got a room for the night. The next morning I walked through downtown Eugene at 5:00 AM to the train station, and was mercifully not eaten by hobos. The train arrived right on time, there was plenty of space, and nobody had vomited/urinated/given birth in my seat within at least the last month. While I arrived in Portland well on time, it’s not unreasonable to assume that the other Greyhound passengers in the station are still waiting for their bus to show up.
Here’s the moral of the story: Greyhound is absolutely the worst way to get anywhere. If you have a choice between taking a Greyhound to your destination or riding a unicycle made out of flaming velociraptors, I’d advise you to think carefully – both options have significant drawbacks, but I have yet to post an update deriding unicycles, velociraptors, or fire. Simply put, Greyhound will not get you where you want to go in a timely fashion; in some cases, it won’t even get you where you want to go.
Here’s a fine alternative for you: Use Amtrak. The only reason I wasn’t using Amtrak in the first place was because none of their trains or buses ran at convenient times for me. At first I was pissed at Amtrak for forcing to ride Greyhound because they’d scheduled all of their trips for the late afternoon on the day that I wanted to arrive early, or the early morning on the day I wanted to leave late, but in light of my recent experiences I’m actually okay with what they did. I’ve come to accept that, if you choose to travel somewhere, you’re basically asking to get dicked by a corporation at some point. Airlines dick you with security, car travel dicks you with fuel prices, and Greyhound dicks you with false advertising. Amtrak, however, dicks you with inconvenient scheduling, and while this still constitutes being dicked, I find it the most preferable way to be dicked in the travel process. Amtrak does not force you through draconian security measures or cost you an arm and a leg, and in my experience it’s been pretty clean and reliable, unlike Greyhound. Yes, they do schedule their trains and buses at times that aren’t necessarily convenient for me, but I can deal with that. It’s not a last minute surprise dicking that leaves me stranded in Eugene for the night – it’s the sort of dicking that I can anticipate and have time to prepare for, and if you’ve got to get dicked, that’s the best way to have it happen.
So that’s what I think of Greyhound.
Truman Capps will admit that Amtrak also dicked him with a $2.00 bagel.