smoking on bus

The Armenian Hostage Crisis (Part 2)

I’m not now, nor have I ever been, a prima donna.

But, was there a time when Greyhound bus travel was beneath me?



Because (the logic went) bus travel is something poor people do. I’m not poor. Therefore the notion is preposterous.

Well, here I am. It’s a new dawn. It’s a new day. It’s a new life.

And I’m on a Greyhound Bus.

I love experiencing new things, but Greyhound bus travel never made my bucket list. However, due to new world realities, here I am. This is a financial decision, plain and simple.

Whenever I hear “Greyhound Bus” I think about the guy who stabbed, killed and then decapitated a total stranger sitting next to him a few years ago.

Something like that happening on public transportation scares me more than Al Qaeda.

So, when I walked into the Los Angeles bus terminal and saw nothing resembling security, I took notice. I’ve seen more security at malls during Christmastime.

There are no metal detectors, there was no screening of luggage, no pat downs, no announcements about abandoned luggage.

If you wanted to bring a pipe bomb on board, I’m not sure whom or what would stop you.

I was also concerned about the potential for stench and noise. I guess I expected a city bus. If you want to see humans living with poverty, homelessness, mental illness and drug addiction, take a city bus. Those folks have to get around town, too, and they’re not driving themselves. And some of them happen to be boisterous and aromatic.

Thankfully, Greyhound was far from a city bus experience. What I found was a very well behaved bunch of folks. I didn’t chat with anyone, but I learned about them by listening. Some were traveling to visit friends and family. One was a truck driver. He was chatting with another passenger who was truck driver’s wife. They were repositioning themselves around the truck-driver grid. One guy got on the bus with a handful of golf clubs.

All of my fellow travelers (about 20) were sufficiently, and thankfully, quiet.

As for aroma?

There was a scent wafting from the guy in front of me that was an odd mixture of Aqua Velvet, Pal Malls and Colt 45.

Other than that, the only other odor was of cigarettes. Of course you can’t smoke on the bus, but it stops six times between L.A. and Phoenix. Otherwise known as six cigarette breaks to this crowd.

There should be a term for the smell of a large group of people who’ve just finished smoking. Second-hand smoke has its term. So should this.

Overall, there’s no question I’ve been in plenty of airports and on plenty of airplanes that were way more obnoxious and annoying than this.

If the smell of cigarettes is the worst thing about bus travel, I’m OK with it. Here’s the bottom line: It saved me money, it took just two hours longer than driving, and it gave me plenty of time to do other things.

Halfway there it occurred to me: I’m in a fairly comfortable seat, no one is sitting next to me, no one is talking loudly, I’m reading, I’m writing, I’m texting, I’m playing Worlds with Friends, I’m sleeping, I’m looking out the window.

I’m NOT driving!

What’s so wrong with this?

With a few caveats, this is like having my own limousine.

Well, a limoseine I’m sharing with 20 complete strangers, many of who could benefit from an introduction to Nicorette gum.

(To be continued)…

  1. morgan says:

    This whole scenario changes when every seat is full and your trip is 24 hours or longer—the two seem to go hand-in-hand. That said, you’ve inspired—yet again—to look past the status quo. Brilliant. I think being an ex-smoker benefited you as well for this piece.

  2. Liz OBrien says:

    Ka’pow! Nice one, Brother McCleary!


  3. Your Canadian at Large says:

    That tragic bus decapitation of a handsome & kind 19 year old male occurred in Canada – not far from where “my people” had lived. “Heaven of The North” has its share of crazies, too – just less than the US. But I took countles trips via Greyhound Bus in Canada for years without incident, even making friends, dates, and more. I recall literally looking down from my bus window seat at the car drivers, thinking: “You are working; I’m playing.” Keep playing, Monsieur McTrip :)-

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