Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Buy the Ticket, Take the Ride:

The twig of a man sat behind thick glasses typing at an outdated computer terminal as Kyle and I pushed through the glass doors.

In keeping with the way all great things do, my Colorado partying and fishing extravaganza had come to an end: Out of the water and grass and happy sunshine into the artificially lit sterile depression of the Colorado Springs Greyhound Bus Terminal where the time-clock-smile under the spectacles looks up from behind the bulletproof sneeze guard.

I tell him I need to get to Holbrook. He tells me that he needs $117.01. A card swipe and sloppy signature get me a ticket to Albuquerque, then a ticket to Holbrook with a tasty 3-hour-layover meat product sandwiched in between. Delicious.

I give Kyle a manhug and send him on his way and take a seat on the curb just as the 10pm bus arrives. It’s an Autobuses Americanos brand of transportation. Oh boy. I stow my gear, and take a seat. Bruce Willis in Spanish on the televisions, and with a pair of seats all to myself we depart.

We arrive at Albuquerque at 4:15am without incident, (except for when I dozed off and freaked out because I thought I had somehow slept for 20 hours and ended up in Mexico.) and myself and my gear took a seat in the lounge/restaurant/game room/gift shop. My Holbrook bus was scheduled to arrive at 7:25am, and it was time for a snack.

It was probably the lack of sleep and ass-numbing chairs that clouded my decision making process, but it was not until after the fact that I realized ordering the “breakfast mini-chimichangas” was a bad choice.

Red or green sauce? How about the shit-your-pants-in-line-for-the-crowded-bus-sauce? You have that? Gimme some extra of that goodness! Mmmm, yeah! That’s the stuff.

As President Hot Sauce is giving the State of the Bowel’s speech in my pants, a Greyhound employee informs me that that the bus I am planning to board is going to be completely full, so it would be a good idea for me to place my bags in the line forming behind the loading door so I am “included in the initial count.” Lovely….

I notice people start to mill around the door as the supposed transport arrival time drew near, but I have faith that my luggage will successfully hold my place in line and I make a tactical decision to remain seated close to the toilet.

The bus ends up being over 2 hours late, and I smile from inside a bathroom stall when a nasal squeak over the PA lets everyone know that the bus has arrived and to please get in line. I have been sitting in here for 45 minutes, firstly because I have found the toilet seat more comfortable than the plastic coated steel butt-mare out in the lounge/restaurant/game room/gift shop, and secondly due to the super-happy-not-so-fun-time -mini-chimis.

Still not believing that the well greased machine that is Greyhound is quite ready to go, I slowly wash my hands and face and follow the litter box smell over to my bags and check the time: 9:45am.

The herd is antsy and jumps as the large metal door swings open, and a man in blue suit walks in and past the group without a word. False alarm. Wait, wait…. No, he is coming back. Could it be?

He opens the door again, stops, and extends his hand toward a young woman standing at the head of the line. Here we go. My turn comes, and out to the bus I go, into a window seat just barely more comfortable than my throne in the men’s room.

A couple minutes later, we are at maximum capacity and a weary, crumpled looking woman in a grey suit stands in the aisle looking confused at the faces that stare back at her from the seatless expanse.

A bus employee walks up behind her, and they chat for a second as the woman angrily waves her hand around, in obvious seat envy. Whether the trip was over booked, or a ninja passenger slipped in is unknown, but doesn't matter at this point.

The bus employee walks to the back of the bus and stops beside a man sitting next to a little girl, and after determining that man is the girl’s father, asks if he would mind letting her sit on his lap until the first stop, giving the woman a place to sit until a seat opens.

Yes! great! fine! fantastic! Good idea lady! Let’s get this show on the road! And while you’re at it, tell that cute woman two rows up that she is welcome to come sit on my lap too. Hell, at this point I don’t care is the prison-tatted gangster next to me has to spoon with a fat guy to get this circus moving. Desperate times, you know the story.

Yes, everyone thought it was a grand idea… everyone except the guy who matters most: The Driver, who apparently didn’t think it was a grand idea at all, and who argued with the employee and even a few passengers about it before walking down the steps and out of the bus, for good, apparently, because a few minutes later the employee informed us that the driver has quit, and they are going to have to call in someone to drive the route.

What? Oh come on… Seriously? Your joking, right?... Right? No, you are not joking, and we are actually getting off the bus, and being herded back into the terminal. I re-claim my stall and wait, while the automatic flushing device keeps me awake enough to know that I am not dreaming, and this may actually be some sub layer of hell. No, not hell itself, but defiantly on the right path to get there.

45 minutes later, we are back in line listening to what can only be described as a third-grade roll calling session as the new driver butchers last names and lets their owners back out to our tandem-axled chariot.

With everyone in place and accounted for, and no mention of the missing mystery seat-stealing phantom, we pull out of the parking lot and 5 hours later when we pulled into a dusty Circle K parking lot in Holbrook AZ, I shed a single tear of joy.

2 hours after that I was in a cabin in the White Mountains: Rods were again emerging from tubes, waders drying in the porch, and a cold New Belgium brew in my hand, my stomach quelled by a very large container of pork fried rice. Oh man, it was totally worth it.

A cliché, but still a winner.

Hi there little fella! Now go tell your mama what I done.

Who put crawdad parts in my Makers Mark? Damn hooligans.

Sometimes you just have to throw mice.

A fine Hawley Lake evening.

-Alex who's ass has been forced to see a shrink.


  1. Anonymous6:55 AM

    Never knew that Circle Ks doubled as Greyhound bus stops. Is the bus line making huge efforts to become the new transport mode of choice for all beer swilling, hot food eating, fly fishing folks or what?!

  2. You know Alex, sometimes I feel you are the contemporary Hemingway after I read your writings. Except you don't live in Cuba and hunt or fish for big game or as sophisticated but you do drink a lot of alcohol and paint a vivid picture in your writing like ol' Ernie.

    I had never heard of chimichanga until I moved from deep South Texas to Austin over 20 years ago. Frankly, I think the name of it is a native american word for "purge-your-bowels" since I think I had the same reaction and don't eat any chimichangas after the first experience. I guess the only reason I never heard of it is because it New Mexican cuisine. I think Jenny Craig could sell these and market them as "organic tasty cleansing Mexican meals" that cause rapid weight loss.

    In parting, the one thing I can say your writings have over Hemingway is that you have way better photos. I bet Ernie sucked at photography though he did invent some tasty cocktails.


  3. Dang, I normally reserve such experiences for third-world countries... but hey, in the words of fight club:

    "Tomorrow will be the most beautiful day of Raymond K. Hessel’s life."

  4. MG-The thought of Greyhound doing anything that would be considered "huge effort" is absurd to me at this point.

    Luciano- I till take "kinda-in-some-way like Hemingway" any day of the week! Thanks!

    As far as the chimichanga is concerned, I generally love them being that I live in the birthplace of the awesome deep-fried burrito creation... smothered in guacamole and sour cream... or done up enchalada style - fantastic!

    But I have a feeling the Albuquerque Greyhound terminal snack bar version is filled with 'colon blow' instead of carne asada.

    Brian- In a third world country, you wouldn't have to pay $117 to have such an experience.

  5. Anonymous7:37 PM

    what kind of fat guy doesn't travel without pepto? a fat guy with a sore asshole.


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