Rules of the Road: How to Ride a Bus.

I’m taking a bus home for the holidays. The most efficient way to get from New York City to good old Wheeling, West Virginia is to fly, but since so many budget bus services have cropped up, it seems ridiculous to splash out four times as much when I can just lie to myself and pretend I’ll sleep through the night and wake up in my hometown. Also, I waited until November to ask for time off for Christmas. Also, I am an idiot.

So while you relish your schadenfreude and think you’re really clever to be the ONLY PERSON EVER to notice that country roads will be taking me home to West Virginia, mountain mama, I’m here to be useful. If you think that passing the time on a long bus ride is easy, then your definition of “long” must be around an hour. If that’s the case, you must be quite monied to afford plane tickets all the time. Please be in touch so I can give you my PayPal details for sponsorship. If you’re like me, or want to laugh at my existence, then please enjoy these tips for a smooth, pleasant journey.

DO: Wear something comfortable and arrive early to make sure that you get a good seat.
DO NOT: Mistake your seatmate for a pillow.

The last time I went home, I was stuck next to a Wall Street bro who was going back to Penn State for a party weekend. He struck up a conversation with me that revolved around his love for “A.C.,” and since it was July, it took me about an hour to realize that he was talking about Atlantic City. He and his hetebro life partner had smuggled a six-pack of Bud Lite (lite but never light!) onto the Megabus so they could party all the way. After two beers, the future of our fair economy decided I was a 5’5″ body pillow and fell asleep on me. As his stale beer breath struck me, I understood why I’m single.

DO: Prepare food and drinks that will get you through the trip. Know how many stops are planned.
DO NOT: Be a terrible human being.

When I was 18, I took a Greyhound to Florida because as the first paragraph says, I’m an idiot. Also, I was living on a college budget, so stop judging me. Anyway, I was somewhere around hour 25 that we picked up a man who decided to pull out a container of room temperature spaghetti. This was June or July. Sealed up tight in a bus, there was nowhere for the stench to go. I thought my torture was done, but no, my return trip home was worse. A man who was visibly intoxicated sneaked even more beer on the bus because, supposedly, he was a soldier celebrating that he was going home to his wife, who just had a baby. I could deal with him drinking all by his lonesome. I could not, however, deal with it when he stood next to me and began unzipping his pants so he could piss on me. My seatmate jumped up and forced the man into the bathroom at the back of the bus, where he promptly passed out until he was kicked off at the next stop. Pro-tip: pack moist towelettes for unexpected golden showers.

DO: Be prepared to entertain yourself a while.
DO NOT: Inconvenience everyone because your needs are most important.

I really do not need to spell this out to you. If you talk on your phone for four hours straight, you are an asshole. If you have to charge your phone because you’re spending so much time talking/playing games/watching movies at an obnoxious volume, you’re an asshole. If you don’t have a pair of headphones but won’t let that stop you because YOLO, you are doubly an asshole because you just made me type “YOLO.” May you rot in hell.

DO: Be flexible with your schedule.
DO NOT: Freak out.

Taking the bus can be awesome, especially when you get in early. However, you are at the mercy of the driver, other passengers, and the road. Accidents happen, but traffic’s even more frequent. I was on a bus to DC for a concert earlier this year when people were getting very testy about how we suffered an hour delay outside of town. Turns out it was a big, fiery car crash. How dare those jerks go and die ON THE ROAD rather than in a ditch, right? The fucking nerve. A notable exception to this “quit yer bitchin'” rule was when Megabus cancelled all of their buses out of DC during a “blizzard” that netted the city about half an inch of snow.

DO: Be friendly.
DO NOT: Be rude.

Don’t be overly friendly either. Creep.


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