Holidays are a great time in a student’s life — family, friends, food, food and more food. They’re also extremely stressful. Students have to debate how to split their time between homework and visits to home, between family members — especially in divorced households — and between time and money wasted when traveling to the ones they love.
Unfortunately, when it comes to traveling, I’m pretty cheap.
My horror story begins with a bus company that I swore to God I would never travel with again — even at my own inconvenience: the infamous Greyhound bus. Now, you don’t sign up for the Greyhound without knowing what you’re getting into. (You are Jack Dawson with a ticket to the lowest floor of a ship that you hope doesn’t get lost in the ocean and delayed for two days.) I arrived early to the packed Chicago bus station and went to the bathroom — I exited as soon as possible because there were people bathing in the sinks and someone was throwing up. I showed a worker my ticket. A pack of people from Ann Arbor followed the worker and me to the designated waiting area for our ride.
Our ride was never announced, even after several inquiries as to when the bus might be coming. An hour after we were supposed to board, a worker freaked out, realizing that the station forgot to announce our bus arrival. A parent of a University student got the manager, who suddenly realized the mistake. Yet, instead of helping the situation, the manager started flipping out. When I say flipping out, I mean that the manager said that all 20 of us from Ann Arbor were liars and that she was going to get the police. If we moved, security would kick us out. We found this really strange and scary. We wondered who she was yelling at, considering our group was abnormally polite. It seemed like she was yelling at an imaginary person. Greyhound security surrounded us for an hour. Two other girls from the University and I were crying. The manager kept yelling incoherent directions. We honestly didn’t know what to do. Some adults were asking why we were being surrounded. The security said they had no idea and that the manager just told them to do so. I was shaking. A lot of people gave up and left the station.
The worker who originally led us to the area walked by. I called out to him to see what had happened. He said Greyhound messed up and they were trying to cover themselves. But, he refused to tell a higher manager because he didn’t want to lose his job. After two hours of standing, the manager returned. She said we stood in the wrong area and that all 20 of us (now 11 because nine people went home) missed the announcement. It was all our fault. Out of the goodness of her heart, the Greyhound manager said we could possibly get on the next bus … if we could convince the bus driver. She also threw in that it probably wouldn’t happen because our group was undeserving and had bad attitudes.
In tears, three of us girls begged the bus driver of the next bus to let us in. This was a situation in which none of us was from Chicago, school was the next day, and we would somehow have to rent a hotel and figure out how to get to Ann Arbor if they didn’t let us on. The bus driver was furious. She refused to let 11 of us on the bus even though there were 11 empty seats. One of the older gentlemen threw a fit on the phone to the company. The bus driver let us on after receiving a command from her radio telling her that she must let us on the bus.
The bus driver ran off the bus to yell at the station owners. We all got on. I was the last, left with four seat options — all of which had the bus driver’s stuff sprawled across them. Since I was scared of the bus driver and pretty much every worker of Greyhound, I stayed standing. The people at the front of the bus sympathized with how the bus driver was treating us, and one woman moved her pillow that was blocking one of the seats so that I could sit down. I did. And, I kid you not, when the bus driver returned she accused me of stealing stuff out of her purse, which was next to me. It was awful. The only reason I was allowed to stay was that the front of the bus vouched for me, and the woman traded seats with me.
After riding the bus for an hour, the bus driver said she didn’t want to go to Ann Arbor, so she was going to drop us off in Detroit (three girls were going to get dropped off in the middle of Detroit at night). I tried to message some friends in the area. Meanwhile, a creepy guy next to me kept saying things about blondes, college girls and then started singing, “What am I going to do with three hot college girls alone at night” over and over. I tried to act like I was sleeping. I opened my eyes. He was a foot away staring at me and touching my arm.
The bus driver had a change of heart in Detroit and decided to drive us to Ann Arbor after an older man talked to her. For the first time, I had tears of relief, even though she dropped us off far from the Ann Arbor stop because “it wasn’t worth driving in.” The creepy guy got off with us even though he was supposed to go to Flint. He started following us. Thanks to my self-defense knowledge, I took a pen (as a weapon). I turned around and told him in an angry tone that I have a cab coming in the next minute. And, he was not allowed to follow me or get in. I kept walking with my thumb on 911. He called out some sexual stuff but whatever, he turned around and walked the other way.
I did make it home to my residence hall safely. So did everyone from Ann Arbor. I ran into one of the girls I met at the Greyhound station at Charley’s. We bonded over the terrifying experience. I guess through all this, my point of this ghastly story is: 1. Don’t ride a Greyhound, 2. Time trumps money sometimes — even for the cheap, and 3. Just because Jack Dawson paid for a lower class ticket doesn’t mean he shouldn’t be given humane treatment if the Titanic sinks.
Devin Eggert can be reached at email@example.com.