Thursday, January 28, 2010

TNC #3: The Greyhound Download

Before the column, I have to address three things. First, two weeks ago I wrote about my dinner that evening. It was right after the earthquake in Haiti. Today I saw a video of a girl being removed from the rubble of the quake. So, this girl has not eaten a calorie since before that blog entry until today, and she lives! When I think I'm tired after a day at the hospital, I will remember her. Darn it, complaining brings so much personal comfort, and hopefully a back-rub, but in perspective I live the life of a care-bear in the clouds.

Second, I laughed at Anna the other day because she said the ozone smells during a storm. Well, Anna bird, my hat's off to you, last night I read in Wilderness Warrior a journal entry by Teddy Roosevelt in which he mentioned the lovely smell of ozone brought in by a storm. It's a good thing you don't carry a Big Stick to beat my ignorant ego. Instead, you patiently endure.

Finally, I might have asked this question before, but it bugs me daily: Why can't the English language just settle on using "closed" instead of "undisclosed?" Now, on to the matter at hand...

If we all lived according to the schedule of the Greyhound Bus service, we would be late for EVERY single appointment. In my limited, yet delayed, experience with Greyhound bus trips, I have waited at the terminal for 14.5 hours. I arrived on time, but those darn buses seemed to keep breaking down. And for a skinny white boy in Pittsburgh (this line is supposed to inspire feelings of awe and respect for me surviving the experience with my eagle scout street smarts, but in reality, Pitt is a friendly place) being stranded in a terminal is no fun. Tonight Anna and I started preparing our Spring Break trip to...get ready....Austin, Texas!! We are excited. I sat on the bed. She stood across the room. We talked flight prices, gas prices, driving time, baggage fees...the usual mumbo jumbo of travel plans, when I casually offered the idea of the Greyhound Bus. Have you ever wanted to download a personal experience into the mind of someone else? I wanted to tonight with Anna. But I'm going to just go ahead and download it to this blog, instead, because Anna is already asleep after a 12-hour shift in the ICU, followed by a mandatory hour-long staff meeting, followed by a forty-minute bike ride home ( yep, her schedule puts me to sleep for exhaustion also). Enjoy my downloadable Greyhound Experience:

I sat in the Pittsburgh bus depot for a couple hours waiting for my bus to Harrisburg. Greyhound was characteristically behind schedule (just ask my roommate Alan, he can relate) but as a result I met Mariasol while standing in line. She's a fellow college student attending Pitt. She was traveling home for the weekend. We connected as easily as dew collecting on grass, sharing college experiences and fun. It's so easy to be a missionary when you say you go to BYU, people automatically know who and what you are. So with the temperature dropping to below freezing, we finally loaded onto the bus. Outside it was cold. Inside, our bus driver was neutrally cold to the passengers. But I was warmed from this double-chill as I sat next to a lady eating "Quaker Express Instant Oatmeal," cinnamon-roll flavored. I'll buy some when I get back to Provo.
"Crazy Earl," our bus driver, introduced himself and said, "If cell phones go off, I go off the road." By this moment I felt as vulnerable as I did in Brasil and Ghana, where drivers care though government roads don't. He then adds, "Please don't take your shoes off and I won't take off mine....I think my feet smell pretty good since they've been fermenting in my shoes. I haven't taken them off since Columbus ( I assumed he was talking about the city)." Having just deplaned from jetBlue earlier in the day, the airline's courtesy by now resembles the treatment you get at Lavell Edward's Stadium if you are a member of the Cougar Club, thanks to "Crazy Earl." But we're off.
Grandpa says to never go anywhere without a spoon in your pocket. The spoon in my backback finally sees action after a two month respite. Joel, my oatmeal-eating seat buddy has no spoon. We continued down the highway, rolling, green hills on our left and right, and the sun is down by 5pm. At the rest stop, riders catch their sodas in plastic bottles and Roy Rogers chicken. Mariasol grabs a fat-free yogurt and diet Snapple. I notice the diet change in generations from baby boomer children to college students. Traveling is so much easier without GI problems, and my veggie Sub from Subway has caused me no problems. Don't worry, I'm thinking about all the meat at Thanksgiving and Christmas.
My Greyhound back to Pittsburgh was ultimately heading to St. Louis. Two things instantly popped to mind: One, I read four days ago that St, Louis is the most dangerous city in the U.S. Two, I remember Churchill's quote during the Allied victory in Africa in 1943, "This is not the beginning of the end, but the end of the beginning." And it truly was the end to the beginning of the longest day in my life. I arrived in Pittsburgh Saturday morning at 6am. I walked downtown in 22 degree weather and at 7 am crashed in a Starbuck's where a fire was roaring. After a few hours rest, I caught a bus to the airport. At the bus stop I see a couple with luggage. They are also wearing long spandex and running shoes, the tell-tale signs of runners. I ask if they run, and they instantly socialize. "We're from San Diego", they chatter. Running and southwestern residency bonds strangers like I can't imagine. We talk about the New York Marathon. Dean Karzanse is finishing his 50 marathons in 50 days in 50 states tomorrow and Lance Armstrong is running. But I later find out that a Brasilian wins the race! Copacabana pride. Hooray to Greyhound for making the moments possible."


Gabrielle Turner said...

You're coming to Austin for Spring Break? We live in Austin!! Come and stay with us while you're here!

NanaH said...

Why Austin?