Photo Creative Commons by Flickr user Omar Omar
The Holidays are a time when one either blesses their own foresight or curses themselves for their lack of it. Overcoming setbacks in my year-end Kerouac-esq peregrination to the east made me do both. I should have planed this trip better, but at least I stole Peeves’ login so I can give Free Press readers a properly scathing product review of my travels. It all began with a quick jaunt to New York on a Chinatown bus. Younger friends had been suggesting this for years, older friends swore I would die in some flaming wreck. The bus from Downtown Columbus to Canal Street in New York was advertised at twelve hours and sixty bucks. The bus left a little late and lost a tire on the way. It was still only two hours late and the blowout barely woke me up. Discount Christmas shopping in Chinatown was followed by a quick and cheap gypsy cab ride to my final destination. Christmas party, old friends, mulled cider, good times. Greyhound wanted more than twice as much and professed to take twice as long. No thanks dirty dog. After the party it was time to drift southward. Sadly, every Chinatown bus service going anywhere relevant was sold out for the holidays. It was the sad old dirty grey dog for me, and my trip south went from 13 hours and $70 to 21 hours and $142, at least theoretically. Theory and practice did not unite. After various public transit failures I finally made it to the Port Authority and stood in line. I was given no baggage tags so I sucker-punched my military style duffel bag into the overhead rack and began snoring. Who wants to be awake for this? Somewhere on the North Carolina – Virginia border the bus lost engine power. We stopped. It rained. My quick overview of the situation was that this engine was not dead, but definitely dying. The bus driver was making frantic phone calls to get us picked up or the bus towed, or… something. While smoking under a gas station awning I met a kid named Kyle who was having his brother pick him up and take him to Raleigh. Since my connection was there I played lets make a deal. Soon, Kyle, I, Kyle’s brother Mark and another nice kid named Jake were off to Raleigh. The dirty dog was left dying in the ditch. Our arrival in Raleigh was not so good for Jake. Greyhound, using their second century (B.C.) model of customer service refused Jake a refund, hotel room or seat on a connecting bus to his destination, despite Greyhound being at fault for him missing his connecting bus. He was to sit in the bus station for more than 24 hours. It seemed unlikely he would see his family for Christmas. We went outside for a cigarette and the station supervisor, Fernando, who had just finished being rude to Jake, stormed outside to berate our lack of literacy. We apparently did not comprehend that “No Smoking” meant on the same block as the station. Off into the rain in search of an awning we went. Fernando screamed at me twice for not crossing the street with my cigarette fast enough. Jake asked me if he should tell them his mother is a top-flight attorney. I said “Tell them you think I’m a reporter.” He said “Really.” I replied “Yup, and I’m writing this up. Got a quote for me?” Jake clearly stated that Greyhound can lick his balls. He later amended that statement to “lick my sweaty balls.” Several hours and another quote from an irate traveler later “My name is Tadd Thomas and they can lick my balls.” I was on my way. My distillation of this is to avoid would-be -monopolies and book yourself early on a Chinatown bus. Who wants to think of a dirty grey dog named Fernando licking their sweaty balls on Christmas?

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