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September 16, 2004

on the Greyhound

I took a Greyhound bus to Charlottesville on Tuesday, all dressed in my best suit to speak at UVA. It turns out that the bus to Charlottesville continues on to Atlanta, mainly on smaller roads so that it can stop in places like Orange, VA. The guy next to me had been hitching from the suburbs of Philadelphia toward the Gulf coast of Mississippi, but with all the rain coming up with Hurricane Ivan, he had decided to backtrack to Virginia and get on a Greyhound. He had about 18 hours left before Mobile, where a friend would pick him up.

The driver was friendly and had a rapport with the passengers, who were going to be with him for a long time. He said that he was required to announce that alcohol and drugs are forbidden on the bus--but (he added) most everybody had just been given a drug test, anyway. This wasn't a joke, to judge by the passengers' response. I wondered why most people on a Greyhound would have been drug-tested very recently. Is it because they work for companies that constantly test their employees' urine?

In this and many other respects, a Greyhound trip through the rural south is different from the USAir shuttle that I took last Friday. I don't mean in any way to romanticize the life of the people on the bus. But nobody on the shuttle offered me half of his peanut butter crackers and told me his life story. Nor would all the passengers immediately try to help if there were a minor mechanical problem on USAir--as they did when the back door wouldn't close on the Greyhound.

Posted by peterlevine at September 16, 2004 01:48 PM


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