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Opinion

Greyhound reflects reality of America

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March 27, 2008

When America’s people cannot afford flights and are a step above vagabonds, Greyhound bus is at your service. For those who have never taken a Greyhound bus, this is your warning.

  A last-minute ticket to Boulder, Colorado cost me only $110 compared to the $250 for a flight. The ride took me 22.5 hours to get to Denver and the value of the ride was far from being worth the $110.

  My spring break consisted of five amazing days in Boulder and two days on a crowded, dysfunctional bus.

  Every time I have taken a trip on this bus system, unusual incidents have occurred, which I soon realized were not so unusual, since these incidents continued. For instance, my bus from Des Moines to Omaha was overbooked. 

  Apparently there is no regulation against this and it happens frequently in this service. The driver gave me an ultimatum: stand for two hours or don’t go to Omaha.

  Fortunately, I convinced some fellow riders to take shifts for sitting and standing time.

  On my way home to Minneapolis, my bus was delayed two and a half hours because of a flat tire in the middle of Nowhere, South Dakota.

  This led to several upset paying customers missing transfer buses and so forth.

  The staff members in Sioux Falls were less than sympathetic. Instead of apologies or compensations, we were bombarded with verbally aggressive behavior from rude employees.

  The Greyhound bus service was not what I had expected. The business proved to be unreliable, disreputable and truly disconcerting. Even the seats were uncomfortable for attempts at slumber on overnight rides.

  With all prejudices aside, the people of the packed buses were anything but intelligent conversation, which is what I sought out for my several-hours-long company. 

  The impoverished, ignorant, blatantly racist, grammatically incorrect, homophobic, obese people were constantly in my face with their Burger King and sleazy pick-up lines. 

  It left an empty feeling inside me to realize that these are “normal Americans.” These people and their lifestyles are America.

  To be in such a negative environment for hours was difficult for me; I cannot imagine actually living a life of hostility and unhealthy relationships.

  Sometimes I felt like a mediator for the strangers who verbally attacked each other. Don’t these people know that we are civilized and do not treat one another with such disrespect?

  One large man kicked a gay kid out of his seat so he could sit down. The kid was petrified and instantly stood up without a clue of how to react to the derogatory names he was being called and the horrendous treatment he had just endured.

  I felt compelled to butt in, which I believe was for the best. He later bought me dinner.

  Mothers left their children unattended to cause a ruckus on the giant moving vehicle. I soon learned their names and shared my treats with them.

  Thanks to these people, I felt fortunate to have stepped into their lives for only hours to affect them in any way. And they, me.

  Teresa is a journalism major and a geography minor in her senior year. She enjoys kangaroo burgers and creating pretty maps.쳝

Teresa Aviles is a student at UW-River Falls.