Monday, September 6, 2010

In The Wayback Machine:
Bus Ride From Hell

I had other plans for today's blog post. 

For one, I was going to do it yesterday, but as my friend Meem told Current Husband the first time she met him, "There is something you need to know about Julie - she will always, ALWAYS, be late, but she will show up with beer and a good story." Meem said this to CH because she got to his place on time when she traveled to Iowa State to meet him for the first time, and I was late. But I showed up with beer and a story.



So here is your virtual beer - "POP!" - it is open - and your story.  Let's go to a new ADITW feature called, "In The Wayback Machine".  I would like to preface this story by saying that unlike some of my stories, which can be prone to some exaggeration to protect the innocent and confuse the details, this story is certified Hand To God True.  Let us begin:
My mom was here for Labor Day weekend, and it made me harken back to another time when I wanted my mother for Labor Day.  It was my freshman year at Iowa State University, and my mom had just dropped me off a couple of weeks earlier to start my adventure three whole hours from home.  I'd spent the previous eight years dreaming of the moment I could get the heck out of my house, so I felt giddy with the possibilities of college.  Labor Day weekend arrived, and with it, offers of rides home with people who lived in my area.  Was I going home?  Hell, no!  I was a college girl now!

Saturday morning arrived, and I walked out on campus, and it was completely empty.  I assumed the other Freebirds would be out celebrating or something, and it turns out that nearly everyone actually went home.  No big deal, I'll read a book or something.  Crickets...crickets... By noon, I was actually getting homesick.  I called my parents and asked if they would get me.  "No way!" they said, with the party music blaring in the background.  The hot tub was being moved into my room as we spoke.  However, they did say they would pay for me to take the bus to Omaha if I wanted to come back.  And this is where my adventure began.


The Greyhound station in Ames was a nice little college town station.  It was 3 p.m., the sun was shining, the birds were singing.  Thank God for the bus, right?  I bought my ticket and walked down the aisle, wearing my preppy Polo rugby and torn jean shorts, my Walkman ready to go.  As I walked, I took stock of the bus occupants, and I quickly realized I was on the Petri Dish express - every bus cliche was present:  Freshly sprung convicts, runaway teens, nuns, tired-looking women with young snot-nosed children clinging to them.  I took the last empty row and counted my blessings that I got a solo seat.  Soon, an old gentleman came down the aisle and took the seat next to me.  At least he looked nice.  He turned to me, put his mechanical larynx against his throat, and buzzed at me, "HELLO. I AM. ROBERT."  

Oh holy shit, you have GOT to be kidding me.  It was no joke.  Robert just got out of the hospital from having his voicebox removed due to a lifetime of smoking, and let me tell you, Robert was a pretty chatty guy for having no voicebox.  He talked to me for about an hour, when suddenly the sky got noticeably dark.

"IT. LOOKS. LIKE. A. BAD. STORM."  Thanks, Robert.  The bus driver, a woman in her thirties, seemed to get ruffled, and started muttering to herself.  Pretty soon, I could hear tornado sirens going off.  Really?  REALLY!?!  Yes, really.  The bus driver actually got on the intercom and I swear to you she came unhinged.  

"Lawd almighty, I ain't never had nothin' like this happen on my bus.  Look y'all, there is a tornada, and don't axe me what to do 'cause I don't know.  Lawd help us all!  I'm gonna pull over here, and I think y'all needs to get out of the bus and into that ditch, because ain't nothin' good gonna happen if that tornada hits this damn bus."

So she screeches over to the side of the highway, bus rocking in the wind, and we all file off the bus - the nuns, the convicts, the teens, the mothers, Mr. Roboto, and me.  We get into the ditch and sort of sit there for a few minutes in the wind.  It wasn't raining, but it was really dark and windy.  Pretty soon, the convicts are all, "Screw this" and get back on the bus, and the rest of us looked at each other and sort of shrugged our shoulders and said "Ditto".  The bus driver had disappeared, so we sat for a little while and waited for her to show up.  She got back on the bus, and we got on our merry way.

What was normally a three hour trip between Ames and Omaha ended up being a six-hour trip with the various stops and the weather.  We arrived in Omaha after 9 p.m., and if you've never been to the Greyhound station in Omaha, let me tell you what a popular place it is.  It's in the middle of downtown, and it is full of drug dealers, prostitutes, pimps, and pedophiles.  I'm sitting in my little Ralph Lauren shirt, my "I Heart My Sorority" pin on my bag, and cute little Tretorns, my eyes as big as half dollars and my foot nervously tapping the chair leg. 

I needed to trade this......................... for this.

In walks my Dad, and he's looking around, and I swear to you, he couldn't see me.  HELLO!  The place is full of prostitutes and he can't pick out his daughter, who has only been out of the house for two weeks.

Dad found me, after I ran, waving at him, and hugging him for the first time in ten years.  "What's wrong with you?" Dad said, looking shocked and uncomfortable.  "I'm just so happy to see you," I said.  And this is when Dad knew something was very, very wrong.  He REALLY looked around, and said, "Let's get the hell out of here."  Agreed.

And that, my friends, is the last time I boarded a bus that isn't painted safety yellow.  Do any of you have any bus adventures?

Hope you had a terrific Labor Day weekend!

8 comments:

CrackedGem said...

I once took a bus trip from NYC to North Carolina... My seat-mate was drinking something out of a brown paper bag and kept asking me to go into the bathroom with him. **Shudder** Thanks for resurfacing THAT memory...

Kris said...

I don't do the bus thing ... I am a weirdo magnet so the weirdo rich bus environment is bad for me! ;)

Michelle said...

Why didn't you CALL ME? I would have come to get you! Of course, I was a self-absorbed freshmen myself then, so I don't know.... I do know I wish you were only 3 hours away NOW!

SueWags said...

My nephew just moved into an apartment next door to the Omaha bus station. :)

Toni said...

One time on a bus, a drunk snatched my baby son out of my arms and wouldn't give him back. He staggered up and down the aisle with me running after him trying to grab my baby, until the bus stopped and put him off in the middle of no-where. I mean, seriously, no-where.
Last time on a bus, ever.

Brooke said...

Did you take the bus back to college??

Tonya said...

I went to Turkey with my boyfriend (now husband) in 1994. We had been living in Poland and not getting any world news, so we had no clue about the political situation and the fact that the Grand Bazaar had been bombed the day before our arrival in Istanbul. We decided to take a bus to the beautiful seaside village of Antalya...scariest thing I've ever done. The 65 year old bus with chickens squwaking in the aisle was driven by a madman who loved to careen around the mountain curves at 70 miles an hour. I literally threw up when I looked out my window and saw ocean 500 ft down. But that's not the crazy part.....about 2 hours into the ordeal, we reached a roadblock. Guerilla soldiers stormed onto the bus with massive machine guns,screaming and kicking chickens. Steve told me to hide my passport because they would steal it and sell it for thousands on the black market and we would be stranded. So I shoved it down my pants. The soldiers finally got to us, saw that we were foreigners, and demanded our passports. That bastard of a boyfriend was terrified and produced his passport in .2 seconds. I stuck to my guns...and was escorted of the bus BY a gun. No passport....no right to live. So finally, while lying in the dirt outside the bus, I say "Oh there it is! heeheehee" and pull it out of my pants and hold it out to the soldier. He got this freaked out look on his face and wrinkled up his nose, like no way was he going to touch that thing that just came out of my nasty-ass undies. Oh ok, big man with a gun.........whatever. I was allowed to continue on my journey and Steve was denied sex for 6 weeks.

Anya said...

I took a summer vacation with one of my friends all over Europe. We were supposed to take a train from Nice, France to Rome, Italy, unfortunately minutes before we were meant to board a train employee strike began, so a few hours later all of us, all of us that were supposed to board an entire train, were piled onto a bus. All of us and all of our luggage. It was hours of being squashed by our luggage, bombarded with far too many smells and sounds and my friend wanting to kill me. For some reason I was in a hyper happy mood, and she, very understandably, was NOT. I have lots of "great" train stories from that trip too. We both vowed whenever we travel Europe again we are doing everything by plane.

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