Flying to Atlanta drives me crazy as the plane is usually very late or cancelled. And I have to fly to Atlanta if I want to go anywhere Delta flies such as New York which makes no sense.
So when I went to Atlanta for a long weekend to see my best friend I took the bus. I won’t go into the hours spent buying the ticket as the website was down; the overt incompetence of the male employees, and the more subtle incompetence of the female employees.
I bought a “priority boarding, change ticket without penalty” ticket because at first I wasn’t sure when I was going to come home, and the ten and a half hour ride to Atlanta involved two changes.
There was no priority boarding at the Myrtle Beach “terminal”––a tiny, tiny building——but I didn’t need it. Nor did I need it at the Florence or the Columbia changes, though at both stops I waited for my luggage––a four wheeled jeep suitcase, ran to the bathroom, quickly peed, and was back on the new bus within seven minutes. That was good as the Florence stop was only supposed to be five minutes (we were late) but I was the first new passenger at the gate. Hint: if you don’t smoke and don’t buy crap from the vending machines you have a great advantage. Plus you don’t stink.
I know I was the only passenger with homemade fresh salmon and cucumber salad. Cucumbers are a very important part of my bus travels. They hydrate me without providing the immediate need to pee that water does. Though I drank a lot of water out of boredom no way in hell would I use a Greyhound (actually Southeast) bus restroom.
That turned out to be a very good thing. When we were about an hour and a half outside of Atlanta, some people, not me, heard a strange noise in the back. Somebody went to investigate. The person saw a man, inside the bathroom, with his hand stuck outside the door. I have no idea how manX saw manZ in the bathroom. ManX tried opening the door. It was locked. Again I have no idea how the door could be locked with a man’s hand outside the door. Actually I’m not sure it really was. A few other people went to the bathroom to try to open the door.
Almost everybody on the bus seemed to go into savior mode. The woman sitting across from me went into a rambling discourse how she learned in college that many people saw a woman being murdered but nobody did anything. How this was anything like the Kitty Genovese murder was beyond me.
But too many people were running to the back of the bus. I found myself going into full social worker mode: “Everybody, go back to your seats. The bus will stop when it can, and the police will come. You can’t save him. What if the door comes off and his body falls onto you?” I was making it up as I spoke but it sounded right, and the whole damn bus listened to me.
A man sitting behind me touch my shoulder. “Thanks. I’m an EMT and no way was I going to ‘save him.'” We began talking about how eager people are to do the right thing but often doing the right thing is doing nothing.
The bus stopped and about ten policemen, and firemen came onto the bus. They broke down the door, and took manZ out on a stretcher. They had him say his name, and most of the bus applauded. I found that touching in a weird way.
I’m not sure what happened to the door but after the bus started up again a few people went to the bathroom to see it. They said the toilet was filled with needles.
I had suspected the man was a junkie. I wish I could say I’m an incredibly kind, compassionate and wonderful person, but I’m not. My tolerance for junkies, never strong to begin with, has diminished over the years. Of course I was glad that he was alive.
We finally got to Atlanta where I had an incredible four days.
The only bus going to Myrtle Beach leaves at four AM. You’re told to be there at three AM and I was.
I don’t know about you but I’m really not at my best at three AM, but I did see a priority gate. I asked the one worker I could find if he could let me in it. He looked at my ticket and told me that I didn’t have a priority ticket.
“Of course I do. See the “P”?”
“It’s not a priority ticket.”
“Yes it is. Look at how much I paid.”
As I paid three times the lowest rate I was determined to get into that damn priority gate though at the time I wasn’t sure that I needed to be.
There was only one other person, a woman, and we talked for the next ten minutes. Finally we were told we could board the bus. The only bus terminal I really know, and not very well, is the Port Authority in New York where all the buses I have been on are just outside the gate.
In Atlanta I had to go down a block and round a corner. Finally we got to the bus. They took our suitcases, and just as we were about to get onto the bus what seemed like hordes of people came running down. I put my very large Michael Kors silver zippered shopping satchel on the seat next to mine. The woman across the aisle from me told me to take the satchel off the seat.
I wanted to ask her if she was the bus monitor or nazi but figured it sounded stupid even to me, and she would be insulted so I smiled and said “I will when somebody asks if they could sit next to me.” When she stood up later I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry as she was wearing pajamas. Not plaid pajama bottoms which I would have liked but pink flowered pajamas that would have been inappropriate on a teenager but on an over 300 pound 20something with long oily stringy hair they looked obscene. Maybe it was me.
The sweetest woman in the world, who is in the military, asked if she could sit next to me. She was wearing short shorts and a tank top but had the figure, looks, and personality to pull it off. She was going from Louisiana to North Carolina to see her husband who is also in the military.
This bus ride was only seven and a half hours with no changes, but the Atlanta terminal was so unpleasant I’m not sure I will take the bus again coming back.
And every time I fell asleep somebody would begin talking very loudly usually on a cell.
The person who was supposed to pick me up couldn’t so I had to take a cab. I live in fear of Myrtle Beach cabs as they never know North Myrtle Beach and insist I live on a street I don’t live on. Fortunately this cab driver used to live in North Myrtle on my street.
So I made it home. I had been convinced that compared to my friend’s house I was going to find mine a dirty dump. It wasn’t. It really wasn’t! Though her house wins the “I love craftsmen houses the most” award.
It was good to be away and even better to be back. But I miss my best friend. We used to live eight blocks from each other and took that for granted. Never take proximity for granted! Never!