A Mini-Guide to the Greyhound Bus (And a Side Story From My Ride This Past Weekend)

October 14, 2012

Joey wearing all of Chandler's clothes on Friends
Still possibly not enough layers for the Greyhound bus.

As a frequent rider of the Greyhound bus, I thought I’d drop a little Greyhound knowledge in case any of you need it.

1) Always bring a blanket. Always. Maybe even a parka and 8 pairs of pants and socks (to wear all at once of course). Greyhound buses are cold. You will thank yourself for being prepared.

2) Always bring food and a large (full) water bottle (or two). You don’t know how often you’ll stop. And when you do, you may have extremely limited food options.

If you want to feel good and not live off of sugar/fried foods during your time on the bus, bring a supply of Cliff bars.

3) Get there early. I don’t know if you know this (I had a rude awakening on my first Greyhound trip a long, long time ago) – they will happily oversell each bus if there is a demand.

You are not guaranteed a seat on your bus. It is first come, first serve. If the bus fills up and you’re not on it, you have to wait until the next bus comes – which could be hours later.

Depending on how far you’re going, this could mess up layovers and such. This “always come early” rule is directly related to rule #4, which is…

4) If you are riding an “Express” bus, rule 3 does not apply to you! Did you know that? ‘Cause I didn’t learn it until this weekend.

I got to the Greyhound station in Los Angeles two hours early – which was a complete and total waste of time, because you are guaranteed on a spot on the express bus for your scheduled trip. There are boarding numbers and everything. It’s almost like flying.

Greyhound tries to make it as posh of an experience as Greyhound can be. There’s a special roped off waiting area in many stations. They roll out a little red carpet in the express aisles. There are electrical outlets on the bus. It’s not too shabby. So if you can take express, I recommend you do it.

If you have any other Greyhound bus things that you feel people should know when taking the bus, feel free to let me know!

For now, I’ll leave you with this story from my Greyhound bus experience this past weekend.

We had all picked our seats. I was lucky enough to have a whole two-seat row to myself. Everyone was going to sleep. The bus took off. I had straight up fallen asleep. And I have no idea how much later – could’ve been two minutes, could’ve been two hours – the man across the aisle from me wakes me, and in a very rushed manner tells me to give him the seat next to me.

(Photo Credit: Boston.com)

I don’t know what’s going on, but I groggily wake up and give him the window seat.

And he sits large. He continues sitting larger and larger as the ride goes on. For the next (what seems like a) billion years, we go on this cycle. He pushes further into my personal space, which wakes me up as I get pushed to the edge of my seat into the aisle. I ask him to please scoot back over. He says he can’t speak English very well. I make gestures with my hands asking him to scoot over. He offers to let me just lay in his lap. Uh, no thanks, sir. He gets back into his personal space. I fall back asleep to be woken up a bit later by the invasion of my personal space again.

Once this happens two or three times and I realize it’s a pattern, I move to where he had been sitting before he captured my window seat. I end up by a very lovely man. We each take up the normal amount of space, don’t bother each other, and both get to sleep.

Perhaps the large-sitter’s plan all along was to chase me away. As soon as I left, he laid down across the two seats. Well, he can have them. I got sleep. He got sleep. The guy next to me got sleep. All three of the people involved in seat-swap got sleep. So, I say it’s a victory for everyone, even if I was chased away from my original seat.

The end.

p.s. When I was making small talk at the Greyhound station with the man who let me use his phone charger, I asked about his trip. He said he was in California for court. I asked how it went. He said, “Not well. I was convicted of manslaughter.” If you ever want to experience a lot of different characters – get on a Greyhound bus. There’s enough there for maybe 10 new plays – in one trip.

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