So what happened after that?
Well, the cab came and took me to the hotel, it was another dump for
the record, the place literally smelled of mildew and cheap cigarettes,
and I sort of crashed there for a while, not exactly sure what I was
expected to do. I mean, for all of the planning that supposedly went
into this, all I knew was that they were going to buy me a bus ticket
to L.A. I had no idea how they were going to get in touch with me, give
me the ticket, or do even get to the station.
So what did you do?
A lot of nothing. I wanted to look at the cocaine again, I mean, I
didn't want to try any or anything like that, just look at it some
more. To me it looked so harmless and so stupid that the idea it was
worth almost a million dollars seemed crazy. However, Stan locked the
case before he handed it to me and I didn't know what the combination
was and I wasn't about to break it open. The last thing I wanted was to
get killed for breaking into a million-dollar suitcase.
However, I did manage to pass sometime watching television and walking
around the hotel. Though the channels sucked and the picture was fuzzy,
it was better than nothing. Actually though, now that I think about it,
I spent most of my time sleeping I believe. Of course, all of this is
just me guessing, the clock in the room was flashing twelve and I
really didn't think to check my watch, it didn't seem important.
But can I assume your respite
Somewhat. I mean, it took them longer than I had expected for them to
get back in touch with me, but after, I don't know, maybe a day or so
of waiting, the phone rang and Stan pretty much told me that my bus
left in three hours from the Charlotte station and I needed to be on it.
That's not a lot of time.
No, but it was enough.
Enough for what?
Well, you see, I got dressed right away and decided I was going to get
to the station early, you know, better safe than sorry. But when I took
a look at myself in the mirror, I looked like crap. I mean, I'd
showered and everything, but I was wearing the same clothes as the day
I left Atlanta. I hadn't even had the time to rinse them out in the
shower or anything.
I decided that since money was coming my way I could afford to spend a
little. I called for a cab and had him take me to a mall. I picked up a
few pairs of jeans, some t-shirts and one nice outfit, slacks and
button-down shirt, to wear if I needed it. To be honest, I paid way too
much for it, but since I was short on time, I really wasn't in much of
a position to argue and, besides, I was still left with more than
enough cash to cover food and such on the road. I mean, hey, I was a
college student, I know how to eat cheap.
I'll bet you do.
Yeah, I know a thing or two about getting by. But anyway, that's beside
the point, after picking up what I needed clothing-wise, I picked up a
small suitcase to take with me and a few toiletry items, toothbrush,
toothpaste, so on and got a cab to take me to the bus station.
Now, I have to admit, Greyhound is one of my favorite ways to travel. I
mean, with driving you get way too tired, flying is too damn expensive,
you don't get to see the country and these days security is so anal
that I always feel uncomfortable and trains, well, this is America you
know? We might as well not have train service at all it's so bad. So,
even though it's not the quickest way to get from A to B, I've always
loved the bus and I used to take it to all my spring break vacations in
But none of that means I love bus terminals or bus passengers. I
honestly think I wasn't the only drug runner on that bus but I was
certainly the only one dressed respectably. I mean, a lot of these guys
looked like they'd as soon kill you as look at you, you just got this
feeling that life was cheap to them and that, well, they were pissed
off all the time and probably packing some kind of weaponry.
Must have been scary.
Not really, getting on was a challenge and mingling with the passengers
at the station was Hell. Those hard plastic seats, the noise, the
commotion and that odd smell made the terminal unbearable, but once I
got on the bus, I found a row with two empty chairs, threw down my
stuff and started reading the magazines I had bought at the terminal. I
got lost in my own little world and every time I stuck my head up above
the seats, I could see that everyone else was doing the same. I guess
between the Walkman's and the Game Boys, they really didn't care about
me one bit.
Must have been a huge relief
Boring was more like it. The bus was almost empty so no one was sitting
near anyone else and the scenery in that part of the world isn't the
best. Plus, for some reason we were stopping in every little podunk
town that had a "bus stop" sign posted somewhere in it. I swear some of
these places were the towns you read about in southern gothic novels,
small, falling apart, strange names you can't pronounce, that type of
Seriously though, not more than an hour passed before I found myself
ready to scream with boredom. I'd forgotten that in college I'd always
go in a group and load up my bag with things to do, you know, music
games and such, I'd never been stuck on a bus with nothing to read,
nothing to do and no one to talk to. And you know what? It's fucking
How'd you survive?
At first it was a lot of finger tapping, gum chewing and munching. I'm
one of those people that like to eat when he's bored and, well, the
food I'd bought to last me on the first leg of the trip disappeared
really quickly. I was left with pretty much just a pack of gum, a few
sodas and a long, long wait ahead of me.
Luckily though, we hit more of those small towns we began to pick
people up. By the time we'd hit either Knoxville or Nashville, the bus
was pretty full and people were sitting close enough to me for me to
talk with them.
Meet anyone interesting?
A few people, it was right about then the billboard salesman got on the
bus. He was on his way to Texas for some kind of convention and had a
fear of flying. He told me all about billboards, how you sell them,
what they cost, how they're painted, all of that stuff. It sounds like
boring stuff, but it's really interesting, I'll never look at a
billboard the same way again, that much is for sure.
But honestly, the thing that saved me was the layover in Memphis. I had
a few hours or so that I was stuck there and jumped on the chance to go
exploring. I knew I needed something to keep me entertained the rest of
the trip if I was going to stay sane and, well, I don't think "Popular
Mechanics" was going to do it. We're talking about a three-day trek
So I got a cab to take me to a used CD store. I bought myself a small
CD player, some batteries, a good pair of headphones and probably way
too many CDs. I was seriously cutting into my food fund by this time.
But this place had a lot of good rock, metal and 80's music and at only
a few bucks a CD, how could I turn it down, really?
Wait a minute, I thought
Tennessee was the home state of country music?
I thought it was too, maybe that's why it was all so damn cheap, but I
wasn't about to question it. I just paid for everything, grabbed my
loot and left, taking the first cab I could find back to the station,
getting there just in time to meet my connecting bus.
Boy am I glad I made that run though, that bus was dead. The billboard
guy was on there, but he sat elsewhere on the bus and there was no one,
I mean no one around. Plus, we were driving through Arkansas for most
of the next leg and it was dead as Hell. No scenery, just more of those
stupid towns taking up more and more of my time. I really wanted to
kick someone for agreeing to pick all of those idiots up.
But at least it filled the bus
up again right?
I didn't get that lucky this time. The bus was just too damn empty from
the start. Someone sat down in the seat in front of me, but that was as
close as I got to human contact, even the seats across the aisle were
But that really didn't bother me too much though. I had hours of music
to listen too so I just did what everyone else did and I got lost in my
own little world. When I wasn't listening to music, I was nibbling,
sleeping or reading. But, to be honest, I don't remember much of
Oklahoma, Texas or even New Mexico though we spent literally over a day
on those portions. It's all just a blur of rock 'n' roll music, trees
and towns with names I can't pronounce.
How long was it after that that
you got to L.A.?
About a day or so I think, like I said though, it's all a blur to me.
You really lose track of time when you are trapped in a metal tube
driving across country, especially since the windows were tinted and
sunlight didn't make much of a difference.
However, somewhere around Flagstaff, Arizona things started picking up
again. A lot of people from Phoenix and Mexico started getting on the
bus and most of them were going either to L.A., San Diego or Oceanside
but either way they all pretty much were going to the coast.
I struck up conversations with a few of the people heading to L.A., I
got some tips on where you can find good, cheap hotels, I was kind of
tired of staying in dumps you know, and got a few pointers on what I
should see and where I could get a good meal on a budget. They were
actually very welcoming to me and very willing to help, something that
caught me off guard.
Yeah, I hear L.A. residents
have a history of being a bit inhospitable.
Exactly, but I think these guys weren't so much residents as travelers
so they probably didn't care that I was an outsider. Hell, I'd almost
say that they were comforted.
But anyway, it wasn't long before the driver came over the loudspeaker
and said, "We're now pulling into our L.A. terminal, this is the last
stop for this so I hope you have enjoyed your time on Greyhound and
that you have a safe and pleasant trip!"