It is 2:00am, almost nothing good happens at 2:00am. The guy sitting next to me reminds me of Charles Manson. He smells like tobacco, body odour and criminal insanity. Maybe it’s something to do with the animated discussion he was having with himself in the line; maybe it’s just that he genuinely looks like he sleeps under a bridge and drives a shopping cart for a living or perhaps maybe it’s the fact that he has a swastika tattooed on his neck..
Whatever it was, from now on I’m going to refer to him as ’Just Released’ and right now he’s sitting uncomfortably close to my right side.
As I’m typing away ‘Just Released’ leans his unshaven face over towards my ear and quietly in a voice that sounds like a body being dragged over dry leaves, whispers: “Have you ever made love to man?” Shocked I shake my head in disbelief as he adds: “Do you want to?” Thankfully this worst case scenario I was playing out in my mind fades as we hit a bump in the road and I get a fresh whiff of his body odour.
Luckily I was not sexually assaulted by Ted Bundy on my way into Portland.
As some people may have guessed I have chosen to ride the ‘Greyhound’ bus service. This particular ride was an enlightening 17 hour journey that started at 4:00pm yesterday (at the time of writing) in San Francisco and will end early tomorrow (this morning) in Portland.
The worst part is I actually got off lightly sitting next to a Nazi version of Chopper. The rest of the Greyhound clientele look more like the kind of villains you get in superhero movies.
My poor girlfriend is sitting next to a woman who is honestly so fat she should come with a health warning. I was going to try and take a picture but I’d need a wide angel lens, and the sound of the shutter would draw her attention and might make me a target for her next meal.
Why you might ask does the Greyhound bus service attract such ‘interesting’ clientele? A question I have been asking myself ever since I decided to forgo the pleasures of flying to spend time with California’s criminally insane. I have no idea, it’s actually not that much cheaper than the train.
As we thunder towards Oregon ‘Just Released’ starts snoring loudly. I’m torn, do I elbow him to wake him up and risk leaving the bus with a far better idea of the techniques involved in ‘Shanking’ someone or do I just ignore it?
I decide to keep my mouth shut and read a book.
An interesting choice, given that reading would have been more at home in Nazi Germany than among these fine fellows. I put the book down in frustration and glare at the now very loudly snoring ‘Just Released’ and contemplate all possible meanings of the word ‘strangle’ wanting to kill someone so badly hasn’t happened since I was throwing elbows on 5th Ave in New York.
Meanwhile on the other side of the bus: A thick shake, 3 packets of chips and a double cheeseburger have fallen into the fat ladies gravitational pull.
Hours later we arrive in Oregon, in one piece and with a better understanding of what prison time would be like. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger I guess and this bus ride was no exception. I have had some memorable bus rides throughout Asia in my time but this one has to be up there!
Moral of the travel story: There are many different ways to get around and see America. Bus, car, train and plane, each has its own unique pros and cons. Sometimes when you travel, it shouldn’t always come down to cost: sanity, safety and serial killers should probably factor in there somewhere too.
Lesson learned for next time, and the wheels on the bus go round and round…Pin It