My Provence promise to slow down my life-rhythm with more walking, biking and public transportation invaded my decision-making when it was time to go to Chicago to celebrate our son, Aaron’s, PHD graduation and our civil union. I knew an elderly eccentric as well as college kids, who had used it with success and at great financial savings. Why shouldn’t we bargain travel as well? We got roundtrip tickets for twenty bucks each. More money for France. Oh la la!
The concept of Megabus is genius, save one detail; there is no station of any sort where one can brave the elements to wait. Anywhere. And the buses are not always on time. There’s hardly even a sign at the sidewalk where you wait en plein air:rain or shine, snow or sleet…We lucked out waiting under the blazing June sun. The trip out was cramped but civilized.
Not the return trip. Surround sound distraction prevailed. In front, our driver, basically a treble lunatic, broke most every rule she issued and then some: when she wasn’t on the phone (is that legal?!) she talked to herself or to us when not scrolling the blaring radio. She nearly lopped off a guy’s hand with the hydraulic door closing mechanism and announced our arrival in Minneapolis just before she got lost in Toledo and had to make a three point turn in a bank parking lot, filling my imagination with images of penetrating the drive-through window.
Directly behind us was a choice piece of Americana: an Uncle Remus/Sanford and Son, Red Fox sort of subwoofer, who graveled from his cell phone most of the four and a half hours to Toledo, issuing advice and decrees(“I hope she’s not out tricking”…) to anyone who would answer. His speech impediment, created by blending no upper teeth with a thick accent void of recognizable consonants, was constant fodder for Jim’s penchant for eaves-dropping.
This could have really thrown us had we not become veterans to the imperfections of midwest public transportation the night before taking the train home from Aaron’s graduation party in Highland: a trip that should have lasted an hour tops was stretched to a colorful two. A friendly stranger who offered to help us manage the train transfers back to town talked to everyone, pointing us out as visitors(UGH) and eventually drank cheap vodka from the bum on the back of the bus’s flask. A perfect counterbalance watching to the tall, athletic, African-American drag queen who had failed to hide his candy before donning his tight, stretch, leopard print mini-skirt.
Laughter, in each case, was our best and only defense and we did it like adolescent school kids in study hall.