America has become a paranoid nation and is obsessed with photo ID. I had to show a photo ID to get a hotel room, to buy a bus ticket, you even need a photo ID to deposit money in your own bank account! It seems every time I step up to a counter of some sort, the clerk asks me for my photo ID.
And yes I am indeed back in the land of opportunity, where a man can earn $900 per month masturbating in a plastic container. The only catch is you have to be between the ages of 18 and 38 and have a Bachelor’s degree and are willing to commit for 12 months.
Travelling by Greyhound has prove to be a good place to meet interesting people. With the plane tickets being as cheap as they are these days, it sometimes cost less to fly than to catch the bus. For instance, I could fly to Georgia for $124 and get there in 3 hours. Or I could pay $112 and take the Greyhound and get there in 16 – 18 hours. Why would anyone take the bus then? It was a question I thought hard about before deciding to buy a 16 hour trip to Augusta. What type of people are attracted to long distance bus trips?
People like Tom perhaps. Tom is an ex-North Vietnamese soldier who was standing in line in front me waiting to board the greyhound from Boston to New York City. He was having problems understanding his ticket. The ticket lady had told him once he got to New York, he could take any one of them buses back to Boston. Tom couldn’t find that written on the ticket and was looking for confirmation from someone. I most have a looked a likely enough character. After much reading of the fine print and several trips back to the ticket counter, Tom was finally convinced.
An old bus hand came buy to tell us our bus was stuck in traffic and would be about 20 minutes late. So Tom and I killed time by talking.
How we got on the subject, I’m not sure, but Tom told me his life was very hard before 1975. He was a NVA soldier fighting against the Americans. He described the patches of the American units he remembered. The Big Red One, The 1st Cavalry, and the Marines is what I made out from his description.
He escaped from the NVA and for 37 days he had to survive and run through the jungle, up mountains with no food and very close to death. But he made it south and to freedom. His family immigrated to northern California. He came over with his mom, 4 brothers and 2 sisters. His dad had passed away in 1964.
Tom was in Boston to help a friend. He had been in town for 7 weeks and was looking forward to getting back to California.
“The weather here is no good. Where I from, it’s nice. Not to hot, not cold, and not wet like here.”
I told him about my army background. He told me that his son wants to go the U.S. Airforce Academy in Colorado. So, Tom is now paying $6, 000 so his son can get his private pilot license. His son is 15.
Tom wanted to go see New York City before heading back to California. The highlight of his Boston trip had been reading the words at the Kennedy Center. Tom grew solemn and fumbled with the words, “Ask not what your country can do for you; but what you can do for your country.”
We finally settled on the bus after a 30 minute delay. The problem with delays is they have a knock on effect for those trying to make connecting buses and traffic being traffic, its hard to make up lost time. I was now in danger of missing my next bus, which I came to find out is not bad because then you get a chance to explore whatever city you end up having to lay over.
Another interesting person I met on the Boston to New York City leg, was William. He has been working in West Africa for the past 2 years with the Peace Corp teaching the people about trees and the importance of trees to the land. He found the work to be interesting, hard, and rewarding. “I think the experience helped me more than it did any of the people I taught. The experience has changed my life.”
William was on his way down to West Virginia to see his parents who had only just moved there two months ago from Chicago. He was going to visit them and then figure out what he wanted to do next. William told me he had also biked 7, 000 km around Africa and wanted to do some things like that. We had another thing in common. Like me, he wants to hike the Road to Santiago.
Autumn colors – the oranges and reds and orange-yellows and yellow-reds line the highway.
We made an unscheduled stop because a lady complained that she was having hot flashes and forgot to bring water with her. She pleaded with the bus driver to stop. When he agreed, a mini rebellion erupted on the bus. Other people had places to be and we were already late, they protested, so therefore we shouldn’t stop. We stopped. I noticed that the protestors didn’t hesitate to get off the bus to go get some stuff from the shop.
I’ve been eating things I haven’t had for ages like Baby Ruth candy bars, cherry Pop Tarts, and Nutter Butter cookies.
Hot Flash Lady is talking to the bis driver.
“How old are?” She asks. The bus driver mumbles something.
“Oh you’re a Pisces?”
“I don’t know nothing about that?” She proceeds to enlighten him. She asks him if he knows JC. The bus driver gets uncomfortable, not wanting the talk to turn religious.
“I’m not planning on visiting heaven any time soon,” he says.
“Me either,” she replies. “I hear they are building supermarkets up there and high rise apartments. Isn’t that something?”
“Nothing surprises me any more,” he says.
It’s a $350 fine to honk your horn in NYC.
We were very late getting to New York City. I had hoped to spend an hour wandering around. But instead, I had 2 minutes to find my connecting bus to Newark.
The NYC Port Authority is organised chaos at its best. I only make my bus because there has been a delay due to a bomb threat.