"Don't Take the Greyhound"

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Other  |  House: Booksie Classic

Taking a trip on a Greyhound bus is much more than just a simple bus ride.

I step out of my car and I begin to walk towards this sketchy looking brick building.  I am already nervous enough because I have never traveled by myself before; so being in the middle of downtown Jackson, MS at nine o’clock at night did not calm my nerves.  I walk silently down the hall to the back of the building; alone, I have not seen or even heard another person since I pulled my car up.  I finally reach the section of this building I am looking for; where I am greeted by a forced smile and almost robotic response, “Welcome to the Jackson Mississippi Greyhound Bus Station.  Please place your bags on the counter to be checked,” said the young man at the counter, probably wished to be anywhere except where he actually was.  I do not have much with me, I only carry a Camp Ozark backpack and my dad’s SMEPA duffle bag.  I place my bags on the counter and wait about five minutes to hear a very mono tone, “Your bags are good to go,” said by the man at the counter again.  I take my seat again and just wait nervously in the lobby of the bus station; looking around at this nasty place, looking at my phone, just trying to avoid eye contact with anyone who was around me because I have heard about some of the “characters” that I will meet at a Greyhound Bus Station.

“Hello, how are you?” asked a voice that had apparently walked up while I had been looking down at my phone.  I look up and see this very short, skinny Hispanic man standing a little too close to me.  “Tulsa, Oklahoma,” I say back very fast and short, making sure not to ask “What about you?” so that the conversation would end right there, but it does not.  “Tulsa, huh?  Yeah, yeah, yeah I came through there on my way down here,” the man said.  “I’m from Minnesota, came down to see my girlfriend for a couple of weeks in Biloxi.”  Thinking this guy seemed alright by now I ask, “How was your trip?”  Man do I regret that, the Hispanic man now goes into detail about a car wreck his girlfriend had been in and in very graphic detail described her injuries to me.  I have no response for this, I just say, “I’m sorry for her accident,” and I move to a different seat across the room.

I’m sitting here thinking to myself I really could have gone without talking to that guy.  Right as I think this too myself I hear a very frail voice ask, “So do you like tomatoes?”  I look to my right to see an elderly white man sitting two seats down from me.  I’m now just thinking here we go again, round two.  “Excuse me?”  I respond back, probably with a little rude tone because I did not feel like really talking to anyone after that little conversation with the first man.  “Do you like tomatoes?” he asks again, this time a little louder.  Before I even respond the his question, the old man just starts rambling on about how he loves tomatoes and told me about all of the tomatoes he was growing in his backyard.  I really couldn't care less about this man tomatoes, but anything was better than the first guy I talked to.

The old man’s little rant on tomatoes lasts about four minutes before it takes a very dark turn.  “The government is very corrupt these days,” states the old man, “The government is herding people to big cities like Houston, L.A., Atlanta, and so on for one purpose.  Can you guess what for?” asks the man.  He doesn’t even wait for me to answer, he just yells out, “To mass murder them all!”  I do not even know how to respond to this, I am almost ready to just get up, get in my car, and head home; instead, I get up and just walk outside; thinking to myself I’m not talking to anyone else while I am here.

I make my way outside so I can at least see where I will be loading my bus.  As soon as I walk outside I see a bunch of Jackson Police Department cars and some medical staff.  I say to myself, “Okay, two guys probably got in a fight, or some one had drugs in their bag.”  Thinkings it's not something too serious.  Well I’m wrong, next thing I see is two men bringing a stretcher off a bus with a body on it...dead.  It looks like an episode of Law and Order or something.  My jaw drops and I don’t know what to do.  Then I hear, “Sir you need to go back inside please.”  I turn and see a police woman with her arms spread motioning me to go inside.  “Can I atleast know what happened?”  I asked.  “A man overdosed in the bathroom on the bus, please go back inside while we sort this out.”  Completely shocked I walk inside and sit down just as the guy at the counter announces, “There was an accident on the bus you all were supposed to be getting on, we are getting another bus as soon as possible.”  Isn’t this just great.  About an hour goes by and the bus for us finally gets here, time to load up and get on the road.

The new bus pulls up to its parking place and I immediately notice the bus is already full of people.  The driver jumps off and says, “Alright everyone lets go lets go.  We are behind schedule and we have a full bus now.  No time to waste.”  I step into the bus to find a place to sit...it is packed and is tight.  I do not know why, but in the back of my head the first day on the bus scene from Forrest Gump popped up.  “Seats taken” I keep hearing in my head with an eight year old Alabama accent.  I make my way all the way to the back of the bus to finally find an open seat, or really just half of a seat because the African American man, who was probably homeless, in the seat next to it was at least 350 pounds, to add to this he smells like like feet and rotten food.  Sitting by the bathroom did not help the smell either and this is scheduled to be a nineteen hour bus ride.  Only a Greyhound bus would go to Dallas before going to Tulsa.

The first few hours on this bus are miserable, I cannot even go to sleep because of how nervous I am; also I fear if I do go to sleep that when I wake all of my personal belongs will be gone.  There are also about four or five people who keep taking turns going to the restroom; when everyone on the bus knows they are just  going to use the window to smoke out of.

At my first stop I get off to go get something to eat, it’s around 12:30 AM and we are about an hour behind schedule because of the guy that died in Jackson.  As soon as I step off I hear a voice I recognize ask, “Hey man you got a cig?”  I look to my left to see the Hispanic man from the Jackson station holding out his hand.  I did not even see him get on my bus, I just look ahead and say, “Sure don’t,” making sure to not stop walking.  Luckily I did not run into the tomato man again.  As the bus ride goes on, I notice that our stops are getting shorter and shorter and that we seem to be driving much faster.  When we make what is scheduled to be our last stop before Dallas I ask the driver, “What’s going on?”  He responds, “We are still about 30 minutes behind schedule so some of you might be missing your next bus.”

We finally make it to Dallas around 6:45; instead of the schedules 6:30, just in time to see the bus with “Tulsa, OK” glowing from the front pulling out...with me not on it.  I begin to panic, I get my bags and get stuck in a line for almost 40 minutes to be told what I already know.  “You missed your bus,” said the lady at the counter with a computer she obviously had no clue how to work, “There is not another bus leaving for Tulsa until 6:30 AM tomorrow.”  As calmly as I can, trying not to raise my voice to this lady, I say “Mam, I am only sixteen years old, I cannot get a hotel room in Dallas.  What do you expect me to do?”  She quickly answered, “Oh we let people who miss their busses sleep in the station and we provide meals.”  I look around me to see nothing but homeless people; who were just out of luck and too scared to hitch hike, sleeping in corners and eating their free meals.  I look her in the eyes and say, “Hell no.”  The guy behind me apparently was heading to Tulsa because he was just as frustrated as I was.  “I can’t afford a room in Dallas, what do I do now?” he asked the lady.  She just tells him the same thing she told me, with a few more words than me he basically tells her no, just a little more vulgar.

Scared, nervous, and confused, I go get my free meal and take a seat next to the guy that was behind me in line; he was pretty much the only normal looking person other than me in this building.  Anyone else I sat by would have probably tried to take my meal, my wallet, or both.  “You heading to Tulsa too?” I ask the man.  “Yeah,” he responded, still a little mad from what just happened in line, “Going to see my sister and her husband.  Been on that stupid bus since Atlanta, and now I’m going to get stuck here until tomorrow.  I’m Will, by the way,” sticking out his hand for a handshake.  “Sawyer,” I say, “I’m not getting stuck here all day and night.  I won’t make a few hours, I’m finding a way to Tulsa,”  I say as I get up.  “Good luck, be safe,” he says as I walk away.

I walk outside and try calling my dad; no answer.  I try calling the people I am going to see; no answer.  “What now?” I think to myself.  I just start walking around the block thinking what to do.  I use my phone to look up flights from Dallas to Tulsa that were leaving today.  Luckily I find one, and it does not leave until 12:30 PM.  I try calling my dad one more time, no answer, so I leave a voicemail and say, “Hey Dad, I’m stuck in Dallas, missed my bus to Tulsa because a guy died back in Jackson.  I’ll explain everything later.  You are about to get a big charge to your credit card though, sorry. Talk to later.”  I use his credit card information and purchase a plane ticket from my phone, as I click purchase the irony really hits me.  The only reason I took a Greyhound bus in the first place was because plane tickets were too expensive and here I am buying a plane ticket to Tulsa.

I find this sign with a three digit number to call for help getting around Dallas.  The man on the other end was almost no help.  He was definitely foreign, and I could barely understand his accent.  All I could get out of what he was saying was I need to find the ‘DART’ and I will be on my way.  “The DART?” I ask, really confused and not sure what he is talking about it.  When I said “The DART” a homeless man shot up from whatever box he had been laying in and says, “Hang up that phone boy,” with a very strong New Orleans accent.  “Hang up that phone, I can get you to the DART.  You don’t need no help from no one but me.”  I hang up the phone, not really because I believed this guy, but because I was not getting anywhere with the foreigner on the phone.  “You can get me to the DART?  What even is the DART?” I ask the man, who even if I did not see come out of a box, I would have known was homeless from his dirty and torn white t-shirt and sweatpants; and the fact that he only had a sandal one foot and a torn sock on the other.  “Dallas Area Rapid Transit,” says the man, like I should have already known what it was.  “It’s a train and bus station that gets folks all around Dallas.  Were you trying to get?” he ask.  “The airport, I have a flight at 12:30.”  This guy might actually know what he is talking about I think.  “Alright, alright, I can get you to the train area, help you figure out which ones to take...but, you gotta buy breakfast. I am H-U-N-G-R-Y, hungry.”  I agree and we start walking down the sidewalk.  I am staying behind him so I keep my eye on him and I do not get jumped or he does not just lead me to some random place.  As we walk, this man starts to telling me his life story basically; I cannot even understand half of what he says because of his accent though.

We come around another corner and I see a McDonalds, “Yep, that’s where I’m getting my food from, oh yes sir.”  I’ve never seen someone get so excited about getting to go to McDonalds for breakfast, but I guess when it's probably his only meal for the day it's like fine dining.  Right across from the McDonalds I see a big sign that says “DART.”  At Least something is finally going my way for once on this trip.  “You gonna need to take the green line to left, get off at the stop when they say airport.  Even an idiot could can get that right,” explains the man as he laughs really for no reason.  “When you get off, then you gonna need to find the 724 bus and it will take you all the way.  Pretty darn simple.” He looks at me and smiles, just happy he actually could help someone and get some food out of it.  When he smiles I do realize that he only has about seven teeth still left to eat with anway.  “Thank you so much, this really helped,” I tell the man as he begins to walk away.  “Sir! Sir!” I have to go after him and stop him, as he turns around I reach out whatever cash I thought would make for a good breakfast at McDonalds.  “God Bless,” he says with another smile and goes straight to the restaurant.

I get on the green line, and the train takes me straight to bus 724; which takes me straight to airport.  No crazy guys with tomatoes, no one dies, nothing too strange.  Something actually went the way it was suppose for a change.  I sit in the airport waiting for my flight; telling the people around me about my little adventure up to this point.  “Your parents actually sent you on this trip?  On a bus?” ask some of the people listening to my story.  “Yeah,” I say with a little laugh, realizing how crazy I must sound to this people.  “Really all I can say to all of you about this little trip is: don’t take the Greyhound.”

 


Submitted: October 05, 2015

© Copyright 2022 Msawyer1. All rights reserved.

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