Bus 4501, 9:00 AM, January 7, 2011—11:00 AM, January 7, 2011

We were twenty minutes late getting into Indianapolis. The driver of the bus to Cleveland was the shortest driver I had seen. I was concerned about his ability to see over the wheel. Coming from my five foot foot stature, that is quite an endorsement. “Let’s go, get your bags, Cleveland, make sure your luggage is on the bus, Cleveland, Ohio, this way!” He had a moustache and a newsy cap and reminded me of a train conductor from the early 1940’s. I handed him my last ticket and boarded the bus.

It fucking figured: this nearly empty bus was equipped with leather seats, plenty of leg room, and though I never tried to use it, I assumed the recline lever was in working order. There were even electrical outlets on the seat. I plugged in my phone. It didn’t work. Yup, still Greyhound. I got settled, logged my findings in my notebook, and was anxious to see if the bathroom had leather seating as well. Then the bus conductor gave his announcements, which included, “I apologize, but the bathroom is closed due to someone’s problem.” Someone’s problem? What in the world does that mean? I flashed back to the Denver station’s men’s room. Greyhound kept that open, so what had to happen in order for them to actually close down a bathroom? It must have been a war zone in there.  So there I sat, trying to ignore the most basic of needs. I had to go like a scat star hopped up on laxatives after a drinking contest. I sprawled out and prayed I didn’t piss myself.

HERE I WAS! Cleveland! Praise be to whoever. I was here. I dragged my rugged bones down the aisle, down the stairs, and stood waiting for my bags. My hand was sore from wrenching open Pepsi bottles, my remaining teeth were covered in a layer of plaque so thick a dentist’s blood would curdle, and my entire body was covered in a thin layer of film. I put away my notebook; the trip was over. Right then, a Texan in a brown leather cowboy hat approached the heavyset baggage handler who was grabbing his bag to put on the trolley, ripped it from her hands and barked at her. Literally barked. There is no metaphor here: he fucking barked like a dog. I had to get out of here. I grabbed my U.S. Army-issue bag, my backpack, and walked through the gate. There was my mother and her husband, standing there eagerly awaiting my arrival. I had not seen her in nearly six years. She hugged me. “Make it quick, Mom, I have to shit.”

And so this adventure was over. No more squawking and crackling of gate numbers in bus stations on the outskirts of Midwestern downtowns; no more being herded like cattle into smoking areas. No longer would I be one of many toothless, crusty passengers on their way to their destination on the world’s worst way to travel. I finally did shit; it was lackluster. I had a burger that wasn’t from McDonalds, I was able to brush my teeth, and now here I was in Cleveland, Ohio. My trip through the worst states in the Union was over. Then it dawned on me: oh shit, I’m in Ohio, with my family! When is the next bus?


For all installments of “My Love and Peace Letter to Greyhound,” click here.

Previous installments:

  1. Part 1
  2. Part 2
  3. Part 3
  4. Part 4
  5. Part 5