The first time I remember riding the Greyhound was when I was 20. It was 2004, I was at BYU for summer school, and after summer school was over I was going to go on Study Abroad in China. Soon after I would return from China, I was going to turn 21 and I was planning on going on a mission. I thought that it would be best if I did what I could to prepare for my mission before going to China, so I decided to have my wisdom teeth pulled in the break between spring and summer terms. I rode the bus down to Flagstaff so that I could get a discount that an LDS doctor offered to any local LDS members preparing to go on missions.
Most of what I remember from this trip is that I was sitting next to a woman who was obviously not all there mentally. She talked to me about her family and how badly they treated her, about her bad luck in love and work, and many other things that I thought were too personal for anyone to share with a complete stranger on the bus. I surmised that her lack of inhibition was due to mental illness or drug abuse. I did my best to be polite, but it was an uncomfortable 8+ hour bus ride.
My next experience riding the Greyhound was during this last summer. I was riding it back to Utah from visiting Dave in Nevada. It was cheaper than flying and we were trying to find cheap ways for me to travel so that we could see each other more often. Dave drove me to the bus station, which was in quite a scary part of Las Vegas (Isn’t the Greyhound always in the worst part of town?). I went in to check in and check my suitcase. Then we had about 45 minutes before the bus would start loading. We decided to go for a drive so that we could spend that time together. It was worth it, because I missed Dave so badly during the summer that every minute together counted. But it meant that I was in the back of the line at the bus station and that I had no chance at getting a window seat. Because this was a night route, the window spots were quite coveted so people could lean on them and sleep.
I chose an aisle seat next to a nice looking man, hoping that he wasn’t a weirdo. And I was right! He was actually very nice. We asked each other about where we were from, and why we were in Nevada. Then we talked about our final destinations, and that’s where the story gets interesting. I told him that I was going to Salt Lake to continue working and studying. He said that he was going to Reno to meet his fiancé there. Then the whole story spilled out. They had come together to Vegas to look at property. They were planning on buying a house there for the winters (They were both from Canada.). Well, this was their first road trip together, and while in Vegas he discovered that his fiancé was an alcoholic. He couldn’t believe how much she drank. When they started to fight over it, he left his hotel room to take a walk. When he returned, she had taken his car and he didn’t hear from her for almost 24 hours. When he did hear from her, she was in Reno and asked him to take a bus to meet her there. The poor man had to ride the bus all the way up to Salt Lake before it turned and went over to Reno. I think his ride was going to take about 24 hours. Also, he had been (and still was) worried about her, and then he was anxiously talking about how he didn’t know whether to end the relationship or try to help her. This story took up about an hour of the drive, and by the time that was done, it was late and we both tried to sleep as well as we could on the moving bus. This is by far my most normal experience on the Greyhound.
My last experience was my ride from Flagstaff to Las Vegas after Steffani’s wedding. The really interesting part took place in the bus station. There was a nun who was from Vietnam. She was talking to me about all of the different places that she had served as a nun and she mentioned that she had lived in Nanjing, China, for a while. That was where I lived for a semester for study abroad, so I started talking to her about it, and she immediately broke out in Chinese. I could understand some of what she was saying about Nanjing and the different things that she liked about it, but much of it went over my head. It’s been about 5 years since I’ve studied Chinese at all. Eventually, her bus was leaving and I could breathe a sigh of relief. I really need to improve my Chinese again.
Then I started talking to the woman in line in front of me. She was talking about how she was so excited to get home to her dogs. She’d been gone for several weeks. I thought, This is a conversation I can get into! I really like dogs. So we started talking about the kinds of dogs that she has. I mentioned that I really wanted a dog, and that I was in the process of convincing Dave to get one (I don’t really want one right now, and I won’t want one until we have our own house. But I know that it will take several years to convince Dave, since he is pretty opposed to dogs.). Her response: “Don’t convince him, just go and get one.” I kind of laughed because I thought she was joking, but she went on and on about how I shouldn’t let myself be controlled by my husband and that if I didn’t just go out and get a dog, then I wasn’t a real woman. I should just get the dog, and then force Dave to deal with it because doing anything otherwise is letting myself be oppressed. Hmm. I had to just stop talking to her because there was no convincing her that just showing up with a dog would be equally as inconsiderate as his denying me a dog.
Immediately after this, the man behind me started talking to me, since he’d overheard our conversation. He, too, was looking forward to getting back to a pet, his cat. He then proceeded to tell me about all of the nasty, gross things that his cat regularly does. I won’t go into details because what he was talking about was very indelicate! This was the last straw. I did my best to get out of that conversation, and then I immersed myself in a book so that no one else would talk to me. Greyhound buses (and stations!) are full of weird people!!!!