Stranded, Broke and S.O.L. *EDITED JUNE 2010*

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Non-Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

This story is a true story based on a failed road trip my sister and I were taking from Ohio to New Mexico June 2009 *feel and relive our adventure!* (I've edited this for my Creative non-fiction class in Spring quarter 2010*

Stranded, Broke and S.O.L.
My little sister, Nikki and I always wanted to go on a road trip together. It was a dream of ours to do so. When we were going up we never went on vacations to Disney world or Myrtle Beach. The farthest we ever got to being “out of the state” was up north to Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio every summer with our grandparents. That was our summertime ritual until 1997, when my grandpa passed away that March. Throughout the rest of our school years, school trips to Dearborn, Michigan, Washington D.C. and NYC were our only ways out of Ohio. We had been to Indiana for an overnight trip while I was six months pregnant with my son, Dylan in 2006 but even that was a short-lived journey.
Nikki and I had had a rough first few years of childhood between having two different Mexican fathers and our mother was an on-the-run criminal. Our mom had taken us away from my grandparents (who was trying to get custody of us for the last year or so), and was running away from the Delaware County Sheriff’s Department and Child Protection Agency. I can remember when Nikki was about 2 years old and I was around 3 ½ years old when we were with our mom at a convenient store in Marion, Ohio. From the stories I’ve been told by grandparents and from what I can remember was that my mom had some items that she has trying to steal from the store and was trying to leave with just me to somewhere. All of a sudden Nikki was in an aisle a few feet away crying, “Mommy! Mommy!” and someone had asked if she was her child. Now, I can’t exactly remember what happened but what I am told was that one of the employee’s gave Nikki back to my mom, when they had discovered her stolen items.
They had called the police to come arrest her. When the Sheriff’s department arrived, they pulled her record up to find out she had a warrant back in Delaware for child endangerment and shoplifting charges as well. Sometime later that day we were taken to the Sheriff’s department where my grandparents had come claimed us and from that point was granted temporary custody. A few months later, via multiple court proceedings, my grandparents were granted full legal custody. We hadn’t heard or seen anymore of my mother until I was 9 years old. She had been in and out of ours life ever since then, and she has always tried to buy our love and be our friend. We do love her, but she has never been the mother that we had always needed growing up. My grandma has said that Nikki has a lot of the traits like my mother, sometimes even calling her Peggy, my mom’s name.
Nikki has always been a spontaneous girl. One day, she’s at my house talking about life, the next she’s in Nashville, Tennessee visiting an ex-boyfriend. I have been to both coasts, but never with Nikki. This girl has been to more states than I can remember. I think she should have been a flight attendant or travel agent by how much she loves to be on-the-go. Nikki and I are only half sisters but have always looked upon each other as full blooded relatives. When we were growing up my grandma used to dress Nikki and me up in matching outfits when we went on outings like to Cedar Point. People used to always think we were twins, despite we don’t look alike at all. I am 18 months older than her.
I remember we used to go everywhere together. I remember one summer we went to a week-long summer camp. It had been the first time we had been separated for a long time. We were both at the same place, but in different bunks. It was awful! The first day of camp I cried all day long to the point where my eyes were bloodshot and burned with every teardrop that formed. I hated every day there and was only reunited with Nikki at swimming and meal times. I had learned that I never wanted to be at camp again.
Nikki and I had started to go our separate way as we got into our teenage years. I was moving on with my studies attending high school with a college prep outlook. I was planning on going to college after graduation. At 16 ½ , I had gotten my driver’s license in the end of my sophomore year and landed a job a month at Wendy’s a month later. A few years later, in 2004 I had graduated from high school and that fall enrolled at Ohio State majoring in Spanish. I balanced school, a shift manager position at Wendy’s and my then-boyfriend, Bernardino were my main priorities.
In the fall of 2005, I was plagued with severe medical conditions that caused me to pass out during a Sociology midterm and wreck a car. I found out I was having seizures because I was high-risk patient, that was 6 months pregnant with my daughter, Megan. I gave birth to her on Christmas Eve morning, two months premature at a mere 3 lbs. 11.5 ounces. I was lucky to have Megan alive and well, despite she was so tiny. In a déjà vu the following fall, I found out I was once again 6 months pregnant with my son, Dylan. He was born full term on December 29, 2006 at 6 lbs. 13.5 ounces. My plate was overloaded with work, school and kids balance. Free time with Nikki was little to non-existent. In April 2008, Bernardino, the kids’ dad decided that he needed to go back home to Mexico to be with his “real family” – wife and two other kids. He promised he’d call and send money here. He never did.
Nikki on the other hand was not a fan of the school system. She had been in trouble with the juvenile courts for being truant since she didn’t want to go to school. She had dropped out of high school half-way through her second freshman year and spent the days sleeping in and watching daytime court shows. She had considered home school and online school to earn her high school diploma. In 2006, Nikki decided to get her GED because she did want to pursue a college education. She had passed the exam and graduated from the program. The fall of 2007, she enrolled in Columbus State Community College to begin her general classes. She was considering a Spanish major as well since she had an interest in Mexican men as well and was in love with the language as much as I was. Knowing Nikki, she was up for a new adventure and was looking into transferring to an out of state school to expand her horizon. Not to mention to sharpen her Spanish skills. She had looked at colleges in west the southwestern states and New Mexico seemed to be her dream area.
She was going to transfer from Columbus State to New Mexico State University in Las Cruces, New Mexico to finish her bachelor’s degree in Spanish. Her car was not the greatest vehicle on earth, but it got her from point A to point B. It was a dark blue 1998 GMC Jimmy. It had just gone through some major mechanical work, i.e. new transmission; Nikki claimed “it was ready for the journey”. My grandmother was wary about the whole trip, but Nikki and I had reassured her that everything was going to be fine.
We were so psyched to go on our cross-country road trip to New Mexico. I had planned my vacation around this trip just for her. I was up for a new adventure and never had been to the southwest. I was really excited because we were going to be traveling along the historic Route 66. I had even done some history on this stretch of highway! It was supposed to the ultimate adventure and sisterly bonding.
Her car was packed of all her belongings. I had packed a tiny suitcase of my own junk as we were both stoked to hit the road that June morning. We bid our good-byes to the family and set off for our journey for the southwest. We jumped from Interstate 71 South to Interstate 70 West to zoom through southwestern Ohio and into Indiana. I was trying to keep ourselves entertained by dancing and singing along (badly) with the radio. I was keeping Nikki in stitches from laughing so much as I made a complete ass of myself. Nikki had recorded a mini-video of me dancing to some Danity Kane’s “Damaged” on her cell phone. I looked so stupid; I hope that video never leaks onto YouTube! You’ve got love karaoke and old songs that you remember from middle and high school to sing so dreadfully because I’m no Madonna! (That’s for sure!) It was so fun to re-connect with my little sister. We hadn’t had that much time to hang out together since I’d had my kids back in late 2005.
We made our first pit stop in Cloverdale, Indiana. It was basically a small town full of semi-decent gas stations and fast food joints. We had stopped at the BP station there, which was owned and operated by some odd Indian people. The facilities were terrible mainly because it was an independently owned station. They didn’t give a hoot if it looked like a shithole. One thing that really disgusted me was the vending machines located in the restroom. I remember seeing those (Guess your weight/predict your fortune) machines like when I was 6! It’s the 21st century!Get with the times! The final straw was the horrid looking perfume dispenser. You could deposit 50 cents and cup your hands around a nozzle and smell like some cheap knock-offs of the “real” thing like “Tommy Girl”, “White Diamonds” or “Exclamation!” It was enough to make you want to jump back in the car and get the hell outta there!
We continued down the road with me manning the wheel. I continued on through Indiana and into Illinois, the birth land of Lincoln, as it is proudly noted on the welcome sign.One thing I can remember would be that I was irritated with driving down a two-lane highway and the constant speed limits changing from 70,60,65,55 and (gasp) 45mph? “Well, if I get pulled over I’ll be like, which speed limit sign was I supposed to follow?” I told Nikki.
It was amazing we had drove for six hours and not seen one cop. About an hour into Illinois, the car seemed like it wasn’t speeding up when I had my foot to the accelerator to the floor. The car started decelerating from 65 mph to 60 mph and I thought it was me since I was too short to drive the car. I said to Nikki, “I think we have a problem.” and we pulled into a rest stop and switched places. Maybe I was just having bad luck?
Nikki drove down the road again and everything seemed fine. “I think you’re just too short, Jamie. There’s nothing wrong with the car.” Nikki said. Within a few moments after saying that the rain showers that came tumbling down and the passenger side windshield wiper came off and was dangling. Nikki said, “What the hell?” and quickly pulled off the highway and fixed her wiper blade in the pouring rain. The showers kept coming down in buckets as we pressed our way through the humid storm. Eventually, the storm had slowed down and gradually died out. The sun poked its rays beyond the clouds. “Yay, the sun is back!” Nikki said in a child-like voice. “Yeah, yay.” I said back dryly. The thought we were in the clear. It was after we pasted a town called Effington, Illinois when Nikki started experiencing the same mechanical problems as I had.“Okay, what the hell is going on?” Nikki said. “What do you mean?” I said. “My car is slowing down.” She said. “Oh great, here we go again!” I said. I then suggested that maybe the car needed a break since we had put in almost 6 hours of drive time from Ohio.
We were running low on fuel as well and pulled off the next exit into a small town called Vandalia, Illinois. Nikki had pulled into the Marathon station and filled up the car. While Nikki was putting gas in, she had noticed that her back driver’s side tire was flat and wanted to put air in it. So we moved over to the air machine, put air in the tire and tried to start the car. It hesitated to start so we wait a few moments and tried again. But no luck still. Nikki went into panic mode and tried to figure out why her car wouldn’t start. She called AAA for assistance. While she was on hold, we had noticed this woman, about in her mid-40s get out of her car to re-fuel. I pointed out to Nikki that her pant legs were soaked as if she was peed on herself while driving. She was from the neighboring state, Missouri. It was a cold-heart shot of humor that relieved some of the trouble we were experiencing but we were in our own problems.
Luckily, the city we broke down in was near a mechanic shop and the tow truck arrived within 15 minutes after the initial call. The driver, Scott, loaded her car onto the flatbed truck and headed to McDowell’s shop. When we had arrived it was around 5pm and they had claimed from what we had told them they thought it was going to be a fuel pump and it would be a “quick fix”. I felt like we were in a country folk sort of place, by all the older people there and we definitely didn’t feel in place there. Nikki and I just sat there as they gossiped about their own lives, while we examined the new territory. It was “quitting time” for them but one of the other employees had dropped us off at a near-by motel called Jay’s Inn. It wasn’t anything classy: it had a bed, A/C and hot shower and that’s all that mattered. We were given a key card to our not-so fabulous suite where we camped out for the night. We were sure that we would be back on the road in the morning and on our way back to New Mexico, possibly with driving all day and night long.
We had called back home to let the family known of our mishap. I still think we weren’t determined to go on this trip, as if some force from a unknown world made us break down and find our own solution. After all that excitement, it was dinner time and so we ventured on to the local Pizza Hut across the dangerous road. We entered the restaurant and despite I hadn’t been in a pizza joint in many years. I had grown sick of the fast food for the night. As we waited on our pizza, the dining room conditions were less to be desired of, with filthy tables dotted with crumbs and drink cup rings. The booth we were waiting in was in terrible shape with the stuffing sliced and exposed to the customers view. Not to mention that the floor was covered in straw wrappers and used napkins. It’s not what I call, “quality cleanliness”, however with the conditions we were in, the pizza was all we came for. So after patiently waiting ten minutes for our beloved pizza, we got it and ran like hell back across the street and to our room. We gobbled down on our over-priced dinner, sat andprayed that we would be back on our way to New Mexico. We had hoped this little mishap would be just a mere memory. Trying to sleep was difficult since the beds were rock hard, and I had tossed and turned all night. It was one of the worst hotel beds I’ve ever slept in, but it was a bed so it didn’t matter.
The next morning, it was barely 8am when I woke up in pain. My lower back was sore from an uncomfortable night from sleeping on an extremely firm mattress. I channel surfed and found some daytime court shows to watch while Nikki waited on the mechanic to call and give us an update on her car. It was around 10:30 am when the mechanic called us and gave some more bad news: she was going to need a new fuel pump and relay that (including labor) was going to be $900! Neither of us had that kind of dinero and now we were scrambling as what she was going to do with her car and how the heck we were going to get back to Ohio. I had to be back at work on Monday! I had called back to the family to give them an update and explain the situation. They’d become even more worried.
Nikki and I were starting to panic and but eventually we started to formulate a plan – “So what the hell are we going to do?” I asked Nikki. She was thinking, writing down ideas. “Well, we can try to put the car in storage.” “Yeah, like this place is going to have storage? It’s a damn ghost town!” I said. “Well, you got any bright ideas?” She snapped. “Nope. I’m clueless. This sucks though. I swear we weren’t meant to go on this trip.” I said. “Well, grab the phonebook and I’ll price storage centers.” She said. Nikki called a couple local storage places and found one just a few miles from the motel. Despite she had to found a temporary home for the car, we had to find our own ride out there. There were no taxis in Vandalia. No surprise, it was like we were stuck in the Bermuda triangle. Luckily, one of the workers (Bobbie Sue) at the motel offered to give us a ride out to the shop.
When we arrived at the mechanic’s (McDowell’s) we were bluntly greeted by the owner of the shop, Mr. Lynn McDowell, rudely stating: “Sherry’s at lunch, you’ll have to wait for her to pay up.” We (in)patiently waited for Sherry (his mother), to return and cash us out, paying out nearly $165 for unauthorized work done to the car such as changing the fuel filter when it was not requested. I remembered Nikki and I were whispering to each other since we didn’t want to “cause” any more trouble since the owner already hated us. What a jerk! I wanted to tell him to go jump off a bridge because he was so rude and inconsiderate of our situation!
After waiting two hours in the “gift shop”/mechanic shop, we were towed away to the storage facility where my sister had rented the area to place her car into.The owner of the storage center was also in charge of a carpet/tile shop and had stated that she needed to purchase a lock for her garage. We had asked if the tow truck guy could take us to the nearest hardware store, but he claimed he didn’t know where it was. So I said, “Forget it, we’ll find It.” and walked about a half-mile up the road to True Value hardware shop.
While walking, we had our backpacks full of our junk from the previous day’s misadventure, in the 95 degree weather, as we made it up the hill to the hardware shop. That walk felt like it took an eternity. We got the lock and bottles of water and sat at the picnic tables for sale outside the store, planning out our next moves. We knew since the car was out of harm’s way, we needed to get out of this quaint, black hole.
We had learned that there weren’t any taxis in the town, and so we had to find a way over to the next town, Effington, which was about 30 miles east to get to a bus station. Trying to find a ride out of that town was a challenge. Bobbie Sue had mentioned of an older gentleman by the name of Mr. Mesky that could had possibly give us a ride out of town. Nikki had called him but said “that unfortunately, he was “hulling wheat” but could have done it on Friday. “He sounded like an old farmer grandpa, but he was nice.” We kept him in mind as we high-tailed it back to the storage garage to retrieve our suitcases and walk the 3 miles back to the motel.
I had to make a quick pit stop at the gas station and I could tell that Nikki was overexerting herself and needed to get into the cool air. When we had arrived at the Phillips 66 gas station, it was a fresh breath of air. They had A/C on full blast as she was barely able to stand from being in the heat for an extended period of time. I had led Nikki to the rest room to use the facilities. When I closed the door, Nikki collapsed on the floor from heat exhaustion. She had me call her boyfriend, Rufino, to see if he could help us get home. It was no luck. We stayed inside for little time and headed back into the heat on over to the storage area. Nikki was digging through her belongings, debating on what she really needed as to what she could give without. I was able to get all my clothes into a large suitcase along with a lot of her clothes too. She was even crazy enough to put her 19 inch LCD TV in her suitcase, claiming she didn’t want anything to happen to it – which was understandable (to a point). I said “the only option we had was to walk the 3 miles back to the motel and spend another night in the inn and plan our escape out of this one-horse town.”
It was at least 95 degrees out and the heat index was over the 100 degree mark. Being in the hot weather was not a good choice on our part, but no one was willing to help us out. We drug out suitcases along the gravel coated roads and shoulders, treading our way onto the road en route back to the motel. We would walk for 5 minutes or so and then stop again, resting our worn bodies from all the heat and pulling our luggage. I was way ahead of Nikki, and thought “I could do this. These suitcases can’t be that heavy to lug around. Nikki is just not pulling her own weight.” And I kept yelling at her to “hurry up” and “pick up the pace” because at the rate we were going, it would have been nightfall. “Jamie, c’mon, it’s too hot. And my suitcase is way heavier than yours. Cause I have my TV in there!” she yelled. “Well, let’s switch bags, mine is not as heavy.” I suggested. “NO! You need to stop being a bitch and wait up for me!” she hollered back. I just scoffed at her and continued on my way with her trailing behind.
Nikki kept insisting that “maybe if we stop, someone would be kind enough to pull over and help us out.” Yeah right, I was sick of relying on others for help. To me, most of these people in this town were crooked and unwilling to help out strangers. We had gotten near a Mexican restaurant, Los Amigos, and Nikki said, “We need to eat, I’m so starved and we can cool off in there.” I thought, “Are you serious? I am not dragging my suitcase, book bag looking and smelling like sweat into a sit-down restaurant.” And I yelled, “And no one is going to be able to help us so let’s just get to the motel and we’ll be able to cool down.”
Finally, after stopping for the umpteenth time waiting on Nikki to catch up, a woman and her daughter pulled up in an old beat-up white Chevy truck asking if we needed a ride. It was the godsend we were looking for. The truck was only big enough to hold three people and so the woman got out and waited for one of her kids to come and pick her up. We only had another mile left to go but a big hill was the final obstacle for us to overcome. I doubt if we were going to be able to do it either. As we rode with the girl back to the motel, Nikki gave her the quick run-down of the events that occurred to us within the past 24 hours. We then learned that McDowell’s had been screwing over people with their costly prices for years. Once we arrived at the motel, we thanked our angels in disguise repeatedly and once again checked in for another night in confinement in this town.
Finally, after pushed around like yesterday’s garbage and walking in the blazing sun like a couple homeless people, we were greeted by those stiff beds but it was the sweet air conditioning is what drew us into a relaxed state of calmness. After resting from our outing, I was volunteered to walk over to McDonald’s and get some dinner. We hadn’t eaten in almost 24 hours. It was still deathly humid out but I pressed on and arrived at the restaurant. While I was waiting on my food, I had noticed there were a lot of older folks dinning in the restaurant. But yet, all the younger residents of the town seemed to be “running” the restaurant. That was something I had clearly noticed from the time we had arrived in this quirky, little town. I returned to our room, with dinner in hand, and somehow we survived another night. Nikki had sent me out again to retrieve some aspirin from across the road at the BP gas station.
I ran like mad across the two-lane road and entered the BP/Burger King location. It looked like a typical gas station with the normal products that a BP would hold, but this one was special. As I was grabbing an ice cold Pepsi to quench my thirst, I had noticed that there were yellow and blue capped Pepsi’s.I had gotten a yellow cap one, but then noticed the expiration date - - May 31, 2009. Here it was June 26, 2009!I thought, “Oh, hell no!” and put it back and grabbed a blue capped one, noticing a August expiration date, paid for my items and got out of there. This is what I couldn’t understand though: how could you put new product right next to old product knowing that the stuff is a month out of date?! This shall be the question my children will ask their great grandchildren and still no answer will be given.
When I got back to the room (again), we started to plan our “escape”. We realized the only way out of this town was to find a ride to Effingham and catch the bus back to Columbus. Nikki had talked to the taxi company in Effingham and they said they could pick us up and take us to the bus station no problem. We just had to call a few hours ahead of time for them to come get us since it was a 30 minute drive between the towns. Being under the assumption that we were going to get a ride to Effingham, Nikki bought the two bus tickets for the ride home for the next afternoon. “Jamie, I think we are finally going to get out of here!” Nikki said. “Man, I sure hope so! I don’t think I could spend another day in this black hole. This place sucks so much!” I said.
The next morning, it was around 10 am when Nikki made the phone call to the taxi company to set up our ride when they told her: they weren’t going to be able to come get us unless they were paid the money up front. The woman from the company stated that she didn’t know who Nikki had spoken to the night before, but they couldn’t do that.
We were once again down on our luck with no ride out of the town. I felt like this was rock bottom and we were never going to recover from this experience. Nothing had been going our way and we were never going to get home. Nikki had broken down into tears, with no clue on how we were going to make that 3:25 PM bus ride back home. She and I exchanged yells at one another saying “What the hell are we going to do now we’re never going to get out of here! We might to call Uncle John for help!” as tears ran down her sun burnt cheeks. “Dude, you really want to sit in a car for 6 hours with that chain-smoker?” I said. I have nothing against my uncle but I hate the stench of cigarette smoke. I sat in a plush recliner starting at The Price Is Right, trying to ignore Nikki’s sobs. “I’m going to the front office to talk to them.” She said. “And what are they going to do for us? Nikki. No one is going to get us there.” I said as I threw my hands up in anger and frustration.
She went to the front office and attempted to find a ride for us out of Vandalia. She had explained the miscommunication she had with the taxi service to Bobbie Sue and finally the motel’s housekeeper, Katie, stepped in to help. Katie was a tall, slender, middle-aged woman with bleach blonde hair to coordinate with her tan skin tone. She started scanning her contact list through her cell phone, trying to find for us a way to get to Effington. Finally, she called her older sister, Cindy, and was willing to take us. It was miracle! We are going to get out!
It was around 1:45pm when Katie had showed up at our room and was ready for us to head to Effingham. We waited on Cindy to show up while Katie was cleaning our room, the last one. I grew worried that we weren’t going to make it to the bus station on time as time drew nearer to 3. Cindy arrived right at 2pm. She was a tall, slender woman with a sun-kissed tan and bleached blonde hair. Nikki and I could have sworn that they were twins, despite Cindy was 2 years older than Katie. The sisters got our suitcases and backpacks loaded up in Cindy’s Chrysler Concorde and off we headed toward Effingham.
I was glad that we were getting out of Vandalia, but couldn’t breathe a complete sigh of relief until we got on that bus in Effingham. We had jumped back onto I-70 East, going towards town as the sisters carried on their own conversations about life and so forth. They would chime us in every so often, asking about our background information: such as if we were in college, what for and giving us some info about New Mexico. They were rather surprised that we were only 22 and 23, making the joke that they could have taken us out with them and introduced us to the locals -- who in turn would look at as “fresh meat” for being young, out of town girlies.
They had been told that the bus station in Effingham was located at the McDonalds’ just off the highway. When we had arrived there, Katie had run in to check to see if the greyhound station was located there. It wasn’t – it had been moved to the Pilot gas station at the next exit off the highway. When we were left the restaurant, we saw the make-shift shelter center for the former passengers to wait for the bus. It was less to be desired of, as if the employee’s of the McDonalds’ had built it themselves. It was already 3pm when we had arrived at the restaurant and was detoured back to the highway for one more exit.
We had arrived at the Pilot gas station. It was 3:10pm and we saw the bus parked, taking a short break along with their other passengers. Nikki, I and seven prisoners were to be picked up at the gas station. Nikki had run in to get our boarding passes as the sisters and I waited in the 90 degree weather. There was an array of characters that littered the fuel station/McDonalds, some stranger than others.
Once Nikki arrived with our tickets in hand, we bid our goodbyes and thanks to the helpful strangers, Cindy and Katie. They hugged us as if they knew as forever, wishing us well. It was rather odd, but we were so thankful for their help, as they truly were our guardian angels! As we waited to board the bus, the prisoners were standing around; with all there “jail stuff” in large, cardboard boxes standing around and talking about heading home.
Finally, 3:25 rolled around, and we still waited on the bus driver. She appeared around 3:30 and started to load the prisoner’s boxes first, despite the under carry below was well above capacity. When she tried to stuff my suitcase underneath it kept falling out. It was because there were already too many bags under there. This frustrated her as she tried to shove it under there again and made the comment, “I hate it because can’t do their jobs and put them (the suitcases) in right.” She then went to the other side and was able to put my suitcase in there. Nikki and I were the last two to get on the bus and so the choice of seating was very slim.
I ended up sitting next to some quiet, African woman who was nice enough to move over so I could sit in the aisle seat. Nikki was stuck next to a heavy set woman who was a constant gabber on her cell phone throughout the entire road trip back to Columbus. The clientele of the bus was not what I was expecting: it had every kind of person from ghetto fabulous to semi-decent. I believe every major race was represented on there too. People all throughout the bus were carrying on their own conversations of utter knowledge, debate and pure stupidity. I passed the time by playing on my old-school Game Boy Advance with the Super Mario World Advance game. I’ve spent hours playing that game on the Super Nintendo system when I was only 5 years old, and still to this day, I am a gaming champion on it. Between fighting King Bowser’s minions in my game I tried to tune out the multiple conversations of what prison was like to “Yeah, my baby’s mommas at home makes some mean fried chicken, corn bread and greens! OOhhee! Now that’s some good eatin’ y’all!” to “Hey, what’s up my bro? Yeah, what the hell? Oh no, she didn’t? I’ll find Devon to help go to his house for the fight.”I saw one of the prisoners asking people for something and everyone kept turning him down. He was a few seats in front of me. He said, “Hey. Can I borrow your phone? Just for a quick phone call home.” I didn’t mind, I wasn’t using it anyway. “Yeah, sure. You just have to dial the area code.” I handed him my purple, flip phone and kept my eye on him. It wasn’t that I didn’t trust him I just didn’t want to lose my phone. He made about a 10 minute conservation and handed my phone back. “Hey, thanks. I appreciate it.” He said. “It’s no problem.” I said back. I was also trying to ignore the horrid smell of musty, rotten ass; it was quite unbearable to inhale. I think I threw up a little inside my mouth.
The scenery was the exact same thing that we had traveled before our mishap, so that wasn’t anything exciting. I was ready to be home, safe and sound with my children and family and to forget about this road trip from hell. The bus ride seemed like an entirety before we ever made our first pit stop in Indianapolis. It was around 7 pm, when we had arrived there. It was a surprise to see we were near the indoor football stadium for the Indianapolis Colts. I had taken pictures of this arena two days before and was like, “Holy cow! I know where we’re at!” as I pointed at the stadium when my sister and I had grabbed seats together. My former seat buddy had gotten off in Indy and Nikki didn’t care to sit with the chatterbox for another four hours.
Plus, the farther back you went on the bus, the worse the rotten ass smell got! It was a quick pit stop and we had also picked up 15 more passengers in Indy into the already crowded and stinky bus to join along the ride. I thought there was a maximum capacity for Greyhound buses but if there was, this driver didn’t care. It was like “Let’s see how many people we can fit in this oversize sardine can”. I swore to myself I would never ride on the Greyhound again. I’ve been scarred for life. Nikki and I had talked about how awful the bus smelled and I had continued to play my pernicious Game Boy to pass the time. The lighting on the bus was terrible and the sun would keep hiding behind the clouds which made trying to concentrate and see a major challenge. “How was it sitting next to Miss blabs-a-lot?” I said to Nikki. “Oh my god, I didn’t think she would never shut up! She had that damn phone glued to her ear! And kept saying, “Hello? You still there?” It was annoying!” Nikki said. I laughed and said, “Luckily, my seat buddy didn’t say anything. But I did a good deed and let some inmate call home to his girlfriend or whatever.” “That was nice of you, Jamie.” “Yeah.” I said. “I know.” I did my once a week good deed and that was one good factor from this bus ride.
I had decided to quit playing my game and to start writing down our adventure from Hell. I also wanted to remember this trip as one of the mishaps of my young adulthood with my partner in crime. As I was trying to write about the misadventures we had had, I was distracted by an Amish father and his son, who were highly obnoxious. I always thought the Amish were good people. I guess not these two jokesters. They acted like a couple of immature kids, making fart jokes and making fun of the people in their rides as the bus drove on by. I figured they didn’t get out of the open road sin the horse and buggy all that often. What the real question was “What were the Amish people doing on the bus in the first place?”
About another hour or so later, we had arrived back in Ohio and a made another quickie stop in Dayton. I thought to myself: “Only another hour or so and we’ll be back in Columbus!” I was so ready for this trip to come to a close. At the Dayton stop, we had (even) more people jamming their way onto our putrid, smelling bus. It was completely full but there was one guy who refused to sit down in his seat. He claimed that his seat was wet from the ceiling leaking. “Go figure”, I thought. Someone is always bitching about something. The bus driver gave him a choice: either deal with a wet bum or stand in the back, next to the horrible restroom and hold on for dear life. He chose option 2. I was shocked as the bus driver was so heartless but then again, he was a jerk about it so he got his just deserts.
When we left Dayton, the bus driver hollered back “hold on to the seats” and “brace himself” for the ride. It was a quiet ride from Dayton to Columbus as the sun fell from the sky and the moon’s natural beauty came to grace the land. It was pitch black on the bus, and therefore there was nothing else to do expect try to catch some shut eye. But even that was challenge since the seats were rock hard, and impossible to get comfortable in any way. As I sat there; I tried to think about being home with my kids, getting back to “normal” life. That last leg of the bus ride seemed like an eternity since so much had occurred within that day alone, and the bus ride was like the un-wanted never ending journey that needed to stop! Seriously!
It was around 11 pm that we (finally) arrived at the Columbus bus depot. I was relived to get the hell off that grande port-a potty! I just wanted to grab my beaten up suitcase, head home and scrub the stink off! The people that were unloading the luggage said to everyone that they had to wait until everything was off the bus to retrieve stuff. Luckily, my suitcase was on the opposite side so I swiped it when the workers weren’t looking. Nikki tried to do the same thing but one employee said, “Ma’am, you need to wait until were done!” in a stern voice. “What a dick!” I said to her. About 5 minutes later, they were finished and she grabbed her bag and we found our uncle John and got the heck out of there.
I have wondered if someone or something was trying to prevent us from going on this road trip together. But I’ve come to this conclusion: don’t get off the highway for anything! You never know when you’ll break down in a total crap hole and could be welcomed into the arms of total strangers. We were thankful for those people who helped us out along the way, and we give left a nasty report to the BBB for those who well, screwed us royalty! I got back to Delaware around midnight and jumped in the shower. I watched the dirt and grime run down the drain and was glad it was over. I slept like a baby that night, in my own comfortable bed.
In mid July, Nikki had made arrangements via the internet and phone conversations to have another auto repair shop fix the car. She had to send her keys for the car and lock via first-class mail in order for the work to be completed. The work was done for about $400 less than what McDowell’s been claiming to fix the same problem and was done fairly quickly as well. Nikki had her boyfriend, Rufino follow her back out to Vandalia to pay the mechanic and bring her car back to Columbus. A week later, she repacked her car and hit the road (alone this time) to Las Cruces. It was a two day trip cross-country but she made it and now resides at New Mexico State University. Nikki received her Associate of arts degree in May 2010, and has been a crimson scholar with her 3.7 GPA. She plans to graduate with her bachelor’s of arts degree in Spanish in the spring semester in 2011. I do miss my sister and though we are not able to communicate via face-to-face as much, we still keep in contact via text messages, phone calls and Face book. I truly believe that my sister will make something of herself and I am sure she hopes the same for me as well. Despite we have our squabbles and disagreements, she is still my little sister and I will always love her.
Thinking back to the ride home, I felt that Nikki and I grew the closest than we’d ever been. It’s amazing how being stuck with your sibling for 3 days can change your outlook with that person for a lifetime. While passing through the Indiana countryside, Nikki asked me “So, do you think we’ll ever get to do another road trip ever again?” I started out the window for a moment, smiled and said, “I’m sure we will.” Just next time, we won’t take the Greyhound bus!”

Submitted: October 07, 2009

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