Lucia has something to say

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

The Bus Station

I went to the bus station. To pick up a visitor from Bangladesh. He was coming here. After the meeting in Belgium. And visiting our colleagues in Canada. He arrived in Milwaukee. And needed to take the bus. Here.

It’s a grim place. Dark. With plastic molded chairs attached in a row. And a water fountain with a big paper sign with “Sorry. Not in service.” scribbled in black marker. There’s an entire wall of vending machines. With dollar candy bars. And ice cream sandwiches. And sodas. Grimy. It doesn’t look all that different from bus stations in any number of countries. But it is here.

People who don’t watch their kids closely. And university students. And others riding the bus. Congregate in the station. Waiting.

The bus arrives. He is the first one off. And we go inside. To purchase a ticket for the next leg of his journey. The acned Greyhound employee says, “Good thing you’re buying this today. If you had waited until Friday, the bus would be full.” Yes. Good thing. I had forgotten about the holiday weekend. And that students are still leaving town.

I hand him a credit card. He whispers to me, “Do you need this stamped NO REFUND?” “No,” I say. But the question makes me sad. Because of all the people who have been in the station before. Buying tickets for others. And saying yes.

13 Comments:

Blogger jen said...

ah yes. we buy bus tickets for homeless folks who want to return home (the funder mandates that these are one way tickets) and similar rules apply.

it is sad. and no amount of ice cream sandwiches can fix it.

8:32 PM  
Blogger QT said...

Yuck - I can't remember the last time I was in a Greyhound bus station, but my memories are not fond.

8:46 PM  
Blogger Gordo The Geek said...

The bus station here is actually a reasonably nice place.

The no refund thing is sad. :-(

8:54 PM  
Blogger Nancy Dancehall said...

Oh, that is sad indeed.

Henderson, Nebraska only exists at 12:15 AM when the Greyhound rolls in under the red sign flashing:

MO
TEL
MOTEL

At 1:48 it blinks back out of existence when the Grayhound's tail lights dissappear into the haze.

9:02 PM  
Blogger Sanjay said...

I have not been in a Greyhound bus station in a while, and yes they are sad places to be in.

8:18 AM  
Blogger thailandchani said...

I haven't been in one in many years. The "no refund" thing is just ... sign of the times?


Peace,

~Chani

9:37 AM  
Blogger Tink said...

Oh man. That's awful!

Reminds me of the last time I saw my Dad, 2.5 years ago. I woke up the morning he was supposed to leave on a bus. He was already gone. Nothing but his foot prints to the cab tracks.

2:47 PM  
Blogger Susan as herself said...

In college I rented a room in a house right next to the bus station. And while it was not a palace, it was kind of cute.

It had a small reveolving rack of paperbacks like Harlequin Romances and spy novels.

And you could buy a candy bar or a soda or a pack of gum from a CLEAN vending machine, thank goodness.

Bus stations seem like they are in a seperate time and place from the world.

4:47 PM  
Anonymous carolineaksoy@gmail.com said...

Hi Lucia,
How nice of you to meet him there. But oy, what a terrible portal to the region!

There are parallel worlds that exist here in the USA. Probably people who work just blocks away have never set foot in there. I think it's a sign of our car-based culture. The stations don't have to be such shady places. In other countries like France and Turkey, the stations are quite respectable.

Finally, your comment on my blog made me feel so good! I'm still not used to thinking of myself as "an artist." I'm going to think about your suggestion of writing about the artistic path that got me to where I am -- at the base of a mountain!

7:12 PM  
Blogger Bobealia... said...

For some reason I had to read your last two sentences twice to understand.

8:29 PM  
Blogger ThomasLB said...

I wonder if the clerk would have asked you that if your guest was white?

5:39 AM  
Blogger Heather said...

Oh this brings back memories. We once bought a bus ticket for a homeless man, and then took him to the shelter to "pick up his things" so he could catch the bus to go home to his family. When he emerged from the building, he had pockets bulging with rubbing alcohol and no bus ticket.

8:36 AM  
Blogger Rebekah said...

I've ridden quite a few busses in my life. I didn't have a car until I was 22, and then only for two years. Not again until I was 27.

And broke? Yep. Others would ride the train, but I could save $10 by riding the bus.

New York City, 1987, I was 23 years old. The Greyhound station was the scariest place I'd ever been alone before in my life.

12:09 PM  

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