GCSPrank Is Here

For people who spend the day saying and writing things that others accept, while thinking things that are infinitely more interesting.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Trailways Trash

“See America” is a slogan often linked to riding a bus across the length and breadth of the nation. A more accurate slogan would be “See Ugly America.”

My biggest gripe is that in over 130 hours of bus-riding on Trailways, Greyhound and assorted lesser-known diesel dogs, I never once saw a pretty woman riding a bus. Nor one who may have looked pretty at the beginning of her trip. Now I know that “Beauty is as Beauty does” and “Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder,” but that doesn’t change the fact that on my buses, Beauty wasn’t even Skin Deep.

Considering the surrounding cast of characters (excluding me, natch) and the locations, a pretty woman on a bus would be an unwanted anomaly better described as “target.” People seldom look their best on buses, and when they are not paragons of success and virtuous living before they get on the bus, it would take some sort of miracle (or several ounces of hard liquor) to suddenly make them attractive.

For one thing, a cross-country bus ride doesn’t encourage a high degree of self-interest in one’s appearance. The miles drag, the bus smells, your clothes get wrinkled and bathing suddenly drops off the list of daily activities with an ease that rivals a politician’s shutdown when he discovers you can give him neither money nor a vote.

For another, why worry about your appearance if the reason you’re on the bus is usually that you lack the wherewithal, attention-span or opportunity to worry about it anyway? It’s not like you’re riding in a church, right?

Then there’s the food. Bus stations are the last bastions of Medieval food left in the States. Food that is served regardless of the condition it might be in. It is served because it is there, it is meant to be eaten, someone will eat it and you have just ordered it so it’s up to you to make sure it doesn’t go to waste. It is prepared without care or fuss, as simply and as quickly as possible, with the least amount of personality to suit the plebeian surroundings. And this pleasure comes to you at a price that rivals fine family dining in some other corners of the city, corners that are quite far from the Medieval keep you find yourself in.

Sleeping on a bus is possible if one is deprived of it for 2-3 days, uses drugs (including alcohol) or has experiences that make riding a bus a potential pleasure. Some of these experiences are prison, combat, a busted drug deal three states back or a death wish. Some of the hardier souls prefer reading over sleeping, but they are only kidding themselves. Sleep will creep up on even the finest book and when it does, one is still left with the situation described above, only it’s now three hours later, those that can sleep are snoring and those that can’t—or won’t—are watching you. Very, very carefully.

The best part about the lengthy bus trip is the end, the moment you arrive at your destination and realize the long dark sojourn into the soft underbelly of America is over.

The second best moment is when you are about to begin the trip, when your imagination fueled by hope dares to envision moments of purity, enlightenment and Elysian camaraderie. The doors close, the rumble rises, the diesel slices into your brain and you understand that imagination and hope have stayed behind. For you and everybody else on board.


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