A Stench, A Serb, and Some Cereal :
Idaho to Michigan Aboard The Silver Sanitorium
"Maybe we can live in Boise when we have more money...Boise is no place to start over with nothin'..."
He was tall, thin, and at a glance a regular looking white guy, but with buck teeth and an air about him that something was more than slightly off. His girlfriend was a very large on the shorter side pale white skinned no makeup gal who was wearing a blue dress and old white sneakers with no socks.
Inside the Boise Idaho Greyhound bus station, a nasty stench lingered about. It seemed to remain stagnant in one area, and then suddenly emerge in another. Every new place it would surface, seemed to be the last place that Big Blue Dress had been standing.
Now, these are the kind of important little ancillary items to take careful note of when riding the Hound. Once you are inside the Silver Tomb, you want to know which section to distance yourself from. When it came time to board, Buck Tooth and Blue Dress sat in the middle left section. I headed for the rear right.
I watched as Blue Dress cozied up to her man, body to body, her face planted next to his as she tugged, prodded, and played with his right earlobe. For the life of me I couldn't figure how he could stand such close and constant proximity to "the smell", but I suppose he was probably used to it by now.
DONNY was an older guy sitting in front of me . A cool looking cat with long wild gray hair. I figured he was part recluse, and part reckless. He was leaving Nampa Idaho which he didn't like, and was going to move in with a lady in Twin Falls that he met on the internet. They had met up in real life only once before. "She told me to come on out and live with her. She's paid for my ticket and everything." Donny was a bit worried about the lack of public transportation in Twin Falls. He told me he couldn't drive for another several months as he was on his 8th DUI. We didn't speak a whole lot, but Donny seemed to be longing for a buddy.
"Too bad were not traveling together" and "Well, Eli, maybe we'll run into one another in the future." To that I said, "yeah, I'll be back in Idaho sometime, and I'll keep an eye out for you Donny," whatever that means.
IN SALT LAKE CITY we had the big 3 hour layover. Sitting inside the Hound station wasn't going to cut it for me, so I took to the streets and started walking. I vaguely remembered some outdoor mall from when I was layed over here before some years ago, and I remembered it had a Starfucks coffee place tucked within it. Salt Lake had a massive amount of homeless roaming about. I noticed that the shelter was nearby, and many were lining up for a meal and a cot for the night. Ironically, right across the street, was the fancy outdoor mall. By memory I weaved my way to the south end of the upper level and found the Starfucks. I got a coffee and slouched into one of the very comfortable chairs. I thought about all the other poor sap Hound riders who chose not to roam and were stuck disgruntled and discomforted inside the loud, dank and dreary station.
By the time I made it back the SLC Hound depot a few hours later, I noticed my bus already had a large line formed. But it wasn't for boarding, it was for a security check. Fuck. I figured they were looking for weapons, but finding my bottle of red wine disguised inside a plastic cherry mountain dew bottle, would likely be grounds for getting the boot off the bus. Before getting in the security line, I begrudgingly shot towards the men's bathroom where I took out my plastic bottle and angrily put it in the trashcan.
The security line took 45 minutes until I finally got to the guard. But just as I was about to get checked , the guard looked at the clock and realized that it was time for the bus to board. So he canceled the rest of the bag checks and told everyone to proceed to door #2 for boarding.
Naturally, I quickly b-lined my way back to the mens bathroom, where I reached inside the trash can and pulled out my plastic bottle of red.
Because of my restroom retrieval, by the time I got back to the boarding line, I had landed directly behind, Big Blue Dress.
By now, the other passengers had picked up on the stench, There was a guy in front of me who had an aerosol air freshener can and was frantically spraying it all around him to basically shield him from the odor. Words like "rotting corpse" and "vomit inducing" were whispered among the passengers. I distracted myself by conversing with a young 25-year-old guy behind me, and soon an extremely pretty 20-year-old girl joined in the conversation. She was moving to Alabama where she had family who lived near a swamp. Leaving Tacoma, Washington, where she said it was pretty ghetto, was a spur of the moment decision that she had just made the previous night.
Meanwhile I had noticed the security guard had moved to the boarding door, and I began to fear he might resume his stupid bag checking thing from this new position. Naturally I had stuffed the vino at the top of my pack, making it the first thing to be revealed, and I remained convinced that it wouldn't pass as cherry mountain dew. By the time I got to the door, the guard had me wait and wouldn't allow me to proceed through. My eyes were rolling inside my head. Did someone peek through a stall crack and see me retrieve my juice? Goddamnit...
After a few minutes, the security guy leans right into me and says:
"Let me ask you a question...."
I began wondering how late that Starfucks was open..looks like me and Salt Lake aren't finished for the night.
He continues, "Does that couple in front of you....do they have...a body odor issue?"
I was so relieved that me and my wine were fine, that I suddenly blurted out:
"Yeah, the woman in the blue dress does....it's real-real bad..."
The Greyhound guard thanked me, and then left. Meanwhile my new buddy behind me, shook his head disapprovingly and said to me: "Dude, I wouldn't get involved in that shit..."
But as it turned out, all the other passengers disagreed with the guy behind me. After the security guard left me, he quickly took Buck Tooth and Blue Dress out of the line before they could board the bus, and escorted them back inside the station.
At this point, all the passengers who were already inside the bus were watching as Buck and Blue were escorted away, and they all began cheering as loud as could be. "YESSSSS.. .WOOHOOO..THANK YOU JESUS THANK YOU!!!"
Despite the entire bus erupting in cheer, and my new found savior status, I felt really lousy for being the one who would end up providing the final word on whether these two would continue their travels or be kicked off the bus entirely. I thought about how I would pass through Salt Lake 10 years from now, and I would see Buck Tooth and Blue Dress in line at the homeless shelter, all because they never made that midnight Greyhound bus a decade earlier; all because of some asshole with a plastic mountain dew bottle of wine....
On board the bus, there seemed to be a delay in departure, and a minor anxiety began to brew amongst the passengers, that they might allow Blue Dress to return, so some preventive seat shuffling measures were taken. I had secured two seats to myself, and planned to sprawl out, but a tatted up guy behind me asked, "Hey Bro-- could you sit here with me, I don't wanna get stuck with Blue if they let her back on." I had to oblige and gave up my two seats to self.
They never were let back on the bus though.
The extremely pretty 20-year-old gal decided to sit behind me , next to Lucky Charms. "Can I sit here?" Lucky didn't hesitate at all on that request. Who could? A real pretty one.
Lucky Charms was a half Asian/half black young dude of around 23 with long curly hair in a pony tail. A sort of intellectual alcoholic who immediately started telling Pretty 20 about the book he was reading which poised an argument regarding plants and human consciousness; how in their own particular way, plant life possesses a mind of their own.
Lucky earned his nick name about 20 hours ago when he showed up at the Greyhound Station coming straight from the bar, after a full night of partying. He said he had his friend make one quick stop at his apartment, where he frantically filled up a suitcase with everything he could fit inside; clothes, socks, underwear, an extra jacket, as well as all the essentials like his cell phone, laptop, headphones and chargers. He then arrived at the Greyhound station with only minutes to spare before boarding time. Relieved to have made it in time, he sat down and relaxed for a moment. But when he went to open up his suitcase, the absolute only thing that was inside it, was a box of Lucky Charms cereal. No clothes, no phone, no laptop. No underwear. No nothing, but a box of cereal. Other passengers watched as he sat there, eyes squinted in a state of total confusion, looking at the box of Lucky Charms as if it where some foreign object that somehow had vacuum sucked all his belongings up. He opened the box and looked inside just to make sure he wasn't losing his mind. But then he quickly turned the other cheek, and with a calm and cool "oh well" type of attitude, he leaned back in his seat, cupped a handful of charms and just started munchin'....
The nick name proved prophetic as well, as Lucky did indeed get lucky. About 4 hours into our ride, my tatted up seat mate turned to me and grinned, "you see that shit?" He nodded his head behind us, and when I looked back Pretty 20 was all wrapped up in Lucky's arms, a major cuddle fest was going down as the two of them drifted off to sleep together...
The second day was a new bus and new driver as we left Denver Colorado, heading into Nebraska. It was an old school Greyhound which had small overhead screens sporadically placed around the coach. There was a DVD player up front and for the first time ever experienced aboard a Greyhound, we were allowed to watch movies. The woman bus driver said that if anyone had any DVD's that were not X-rated, she didn't have a problem with having them played. So for the next 12 hours, it was movie after movie after movie. Passengers would pull out illegal bootlegs of Hollywood movies that they had burned off torrent sites from the internet. We watched films that were called, "American Sniper", "Taken 3", "Guardians of the Galaxy" and many more quickly forgotten Hollywood "hits". I took note of how odd it was that the usual human interaction was now interrupted, as passengers were now glued to the overhead screens. I realized why the driver allowed DVD's to be watched as it was a tactic to numb up the passengers and greatly lessen the likelihood that they would cause trouble.
The next to final stretch of Hound travel was from Omaha Nebraska to Chicago Illinois, and it consisted of yet another bus and another driver. This driver stated that he had just graduated from "Trailways Bus School" last Friday. It was clear that he was trying to quickly make a name for himself, and try to set some precedents, as he had already kicked a lady off the bus for disagreeing with him. A real prick.
Instead of using the intercom to announce the rules of the bus as every other bus driver does, this guy chose to stand in the aisle and shout out the rules as loud as he could:
"There is to be NO alcohol consumed on this coach, nor any smoking of tobacco, marijuana, or crack cocaine. Now the reason I am yelling out these rules is because I know that there will be at least one of you within the next hour, AT LEAST ONE OF YOU, who will break one of these rules and you will not be able to say to me that you did not hear these rules because I am shouting them as loud as I can."
As soon as he shut the fuck up and started driving, I broke out my plastic bottle of wine and started drinking.
In DES MOINES IOWA I managed to secure two seats to myself, until a real cute young gal asked if she could sit next to me in the window seat. She was seated next to a real large dude who soon started snoring. A vacant seat was in front of her, but a Greyshirt was sitting there, already sprawled out (Greyshirt = recently released prisoner, they issue them grey sweatshirts upon release. Nice guy, been inside for 7 years, released 4 days ago on his way to a halfway house in Ohio, but he was 2 days late due to him getting off the bus in Reno and having a 2 day bender. He was drinking a ton of water hoping like hell he would piss clean by the time he got to the halfway).
She was a young gal from Serbia, working as a nanny in Des Moines. We talked much of the ride and she shared a bag of her potato chips with me. She talked about the differences here and in Serbia, like the seemingly little things such as parks are hard to find here, where there they are plentiful. On the weekends she would take off for trips to places like San Francisco and this weekend was a quick jaunt to Chicago. This way she could experience as much of America as possible while she was here. I think she hooked up with other working nannies in other cities and they would all go out to the clubs and get a little drunk. It was 4 am and we both ended up falling asleep after polishing off her bag of chips...
From Chicago to Michigan I once again managed to secure 2 seats to myself, yet once again it was short lived. Some kid across from me was coming off a drug trip and kept nodding off, his head would keep landing on the guy next to him. I already noticed that the young guy next to him came on the bus with a carry on bag that said something like ''narcotics rehab facility". I also noticed an orange band around his wrist which read "recovery". And so now here he was, on board a Greyhound after 6 weeks of getting cleaned up, and he ends up having some kid coming off a stretch of crank, sit right next to him.
"Hey, why don't you sit over here man."
He thanked me, really appreciated it, and acknowledged that the kid was nodding hard, and acknowledged the irony of it all, him just getting out of rehab himself. "I'm just glad that today, that's not me..."
It was a decent little deed, and one that would round out yet another long haul Hound ride across America, full of these oddly magical little sociological moments that always seem to make up for the sleeplessness, misery and madness the Hound never fails to provide.
Buck tooth and Blue Dress, Idaho.