My adventures and mis-adventures as I travel here and there

Texas or Bust- Day 3

3PM central time in Dallas, TX. My bus was two hours late getting in, causing me to miss my connection. The next bus leaves at 7:15PM. Here I sit for another four hours with a measly meal voucher as a consolation prize. I won’t get to Marshall until at least 10PM, at which time my poor parents will have to come pick me up. I’m beginning to lose my faith in Greyhound. The low price of the tickets represents what we evidently don’t pay for. That is, timeliness, customer courtesy, and creature comfort. The lack of comfort I expected. The other missing components are a little more disappointing. Horror stories from fellow travelers don’t help at all. Greyhound employees making people cry, security guards breaking their promises. The man in line ahead of me was missing the viewing at the funeral of his fifteen-day-old daughter. By the time he gets there, the funeral home will be closed. One employee even freely admitted that the bus I arrived on is late every day. Why is this problem allowed to continue? Public transport in Europe is so much more reliable and efficient. Buses and trains are almost always on time. I wish I could just fly back next month instead of risking another fiendish bus trip, but I love knowing that I paid my way here for once. Is it worth it? I ask myself.

The man with the big head just tried talking to me. He’s probably harmless and I’m probably rude for being cool towards him, but please, don’t look me up and down like that.

We travelers have to help each other out, and somehow the opportunity to help out a fellow human being in need, especially when you can completely empathize with their plight, makes the ordeal 3% closer to being worth it. Amarillo, Texas had the most ghetto bus station I’d seen after traveling halfway across the United States. I held that annoying faucet down for a young girl so she could clean out her baby’s bottle in the filthy bathroom; I gave a middle-aged woman the rest of my tampons. Here in Dallas, stuck together until 7:15PM, I loaned a blond guy my phone for a couple minutes. He’s spent the summer working at Yellowstone and now he’s trying to get back home to Mississippi. I loaned my purple pen to a frustrated man on the pay phone. And when my bags fell over, oh about a million times, perfect strangers helped me pick them up.

But how do you know when someone really needs help and when they’re just preying on your sympathies? A man approaches with a sad story about how he and his girlfriend are stuck here until 8PM. They’ve already gotten a sandwich with their meal vouchers from Greyhound but now they’re starving again. Could I possibly help them get a meal? He’s so sorry to approach me like this. As I’m searching for my voucher, security hauls him out the door. Hmmm.

Everywhere there is an outlet there will also be a traveler huddled there charging their electronics. I am one such huddled by a set of pay phones. It’s an interesting place to be. I’ve heard a lot of frustrated calls to loved ones letting them know they’ll be a “little late”. I heard a very lengthy call during which a woman talked of God’s will concerning some kind of move and about taking a job and what it said in some “letter”. Just now a beautiful young woman cried on the phone telling her friend about a boyfriend who dumped her as he also dumped her at the bus station. “He said, ‘Don’t ever contact me again and… go with God.’ Do you know how much that hurts? He broke my heart.”

Leaving Dallas (finally!) a guy named Whitney* in probably his early twenties sat down beside me. His ethnicity was difficult to determine, but to me he looked to be an African/Asian mix. He had an Asian’s eyes, but darker skin and a black man’s hair. He wore slouchy pants, a black and white shirt with a random pattern consisting of paisley, spades, and skulls and crossbones, and his long black hair was in ten plaited braids. He wore a brand new cap with playing cards embroidered onto it (the tag was still on).

He asked my name and where I was from. His next question: “So you don’t smoke weed stuff do you?”

“No…not at all.”

“So what do you think of people who do?” he asked. I was a little unsure of my answer, but I did end up telling him I thought smoking weed was stupid. Thankfully he laughed. I asked him why he did it and his answer was typical: to relax. He’s been hooked on the drug since he was nine and he needs it to sleep and to have an appetite.

Anyway, after the weed conversation, I found out that this guy was moving to Longview, TX because there were some people there who want to help him get his life straightened out. He plans to get a job at a plant (“whatever that is,” he said) and get his GED. I was so excited for him! He’s lived in Dallas for 8 years, “stuck in the ‘hood”, and he’s finally getting out. Whitney felt a little scared as we drove through miles and miles of what seemed like nothing to him. Every little town we stopped in he said, “Oh, this isn’t Longview, is it?” He’s off the bus now and beginning his new life. He’s looking forward to seeing trees and crickets. I can’t help but be a little afraid for him, knowing that without a strong will to make a change, he can just continue the life he’s always lived, only in a different place. I very much hope, however, that Whitney found his turning point today.

I finally reached Marshall, TX at midnight. My parents drove up at exactly the same time J

*named changed for protection

August 3, 2007 Posted by | United States | , , , , , , | Leave a comment


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