The Greyhound:

Nora Taylor

There are few American institutions that can bring people together regardless of color, religion, creed and you know, that kind of stuff. Usually it is joyous occasions like the Fourth of July! Basketball championships! Big sales at Wal-Mart!
While many consider it the antithesis of joy, the Greyhound certainly brings a diverse cross section of the population together with the unique aspect of putting all of those people together in close quarters for an extended period of time. It’s what one might imagine the inside of a Crayola box is like, but I digress.
Almost everyone who has ever been to college has ridden the Greyhound and almost anyone who has ridden the Greyhound has a Greyhound story. Due to my desire to leave campus as much as possible, I have a few. The best of which speaks to the disintegration of the American family and/or is hilarious.
I was coming back from Chicago and was sharing a bus with one Travis Fondow. It was a pretty standard ride: strangers talking about recreational drugs and government conspiracies, children yelling and the air feeling like one big clammy handshake. Around about Oshkosh, a gentleman behind Fondow and myself placed a phone call. He made some general chit chat then exclaimed, “You know what I could use right now … a beer.”
True enough. “And a joint.” Fair play. “And some strippers.” Not for everyone, but okay. “But first I have to see my kids.” … Well yes, I suppose you should do that first.
The Greyhound is fascinating because it tends to bring to life those abstract fears we half worry about. Fear of reckless driving: A friend of mine had a driver drive backward down the street to return to the station in order to retrieve, you guessed it, his lucky troll doll.
Fear of germs: Another friend sat behind a woman who would cough into a tissue and then make the sign of the cross each time.
Fear of confrontation: I once watched two people almost come to blows over the time zone in Florida.
Fear of your future: I saw a woman at the Chicago station talking to herself and eating cat food with a pencil.
Lacking the glamour of long distance train travel and the privacy of driving, the bus is often a last-resort option for many leaving it to be generally populated by the thrifty. On the Venn diagram of things college students and homeless people have in common, two things occupying the middle area are the greyhound and Colt 45.
I could go on forever but the baby behind me has started crying and the man in front of me has leaned his seat into my laptop which I am using to google hot guys. Next stop: Appleton. Thank god.