Home again in Baltimore via the Chinatown bus experience. For those of you not versed in the mechanisms of cheaper-than-hell bus travel to and from New York, the Chinatown bus is the way to go if you’re going to Baltimore or DC and don’t have the disposable income to shell out a chunk of cash to Greyhound/Peter Pan, or feel bad conning your parents into buying you a first class plane ticket home by telling them you’ve been the victim of internet fraud and that your bank account has been wiped out.
So the deal with the Chinatown bus is that there’s a bunch of different bus companies that operate out of Chinatown, and you can either buy your tickets online (my preferred method) or you can buy them once you get there. But once you get to the street where all the buses are lined up, you’re practically assaulted by women who speak really poor English asking where you are going, trying to get you to buy a ticket and hustle you onto a bus (most likely not the bus you actually bought a ticket for, and definitely not the right time).
So I get onto the right bus for the right time, after making sure with the driver (who spoke English) that the bus was indeed stopping in Baltimore. And everything was peachy. A-barreling down the streets of Manhattan we went, out onto the open highway. I even managed to get a little sleep, despite the guy in back of me snoring like a rusty chainsaw. And then about 20 minutes before arriving in Baltimore, a guy comes from the back of the bus to talk to the driver. Now this guy, as we were waiting for the previous passengers to get off the bus, was not only telling everyone in front of him to “step up, step up” despite the fact that they had nowhere to go, but also was smoking a cigarette right next to a mother and child, and when the mother asked him to put the cigarette out, responded with the charming, “The fucking air is worse for you than this shit.”
So this winner-at-life is talking to the driver and those of us in the front of the bus can hear that he’s asking the driver if it was possible to get dropped off at a specific corner in DC (not where the bus is actually stopping). My fellow passengers begin chiding him to sit down, that it’s a bus not a car service, that he should just take a cab from the real drop-off point, that he should stop distracting the driver (who is, at this point, driving at a high speed in the pouring rain), and noting that if the bus made a sudden stop he’d go right through the windshield. The driver similarly expressed that he didn’t make stops for individuals and that the guy should stop hassling him and go back to his seat.
Undetered by the jeers of his fellow passengers and the uncooperative driver, he attempted to make peace and win favor with the driver by announcing to the entire bus that he was “taking up a collection for the driver!” and that we should give because it’s the “Christmas season!” We were not swayed by his passion, and seeing that his attempt to corral an entire bus of people so he could get dropped off on his doorstep had failed miserably, he dejectedly went back to his seat and stayed silent the rest of the way to Baltimore. And as he was walking back, the rest of us burst into applause like we were the Goonies and had just foiled those evil developers’ plans to destroy our parents’ land and turn it into a country club. And Sloth was there too.
Ok, so that last part didn’t actually happen. Here’s some music:
Radiohead – I Might Be Wrong (Buy It)
posted by Adam