Night of the Living Bus Trip

I am happy to report that taking a bus is the most convenient, economical, pleasurable experience that you can possibly enjoy in this life without the use of illegal substances. It is– no, wait. I’m sorry. I can’t do this. I can’t lie to you. Let me try again.

I am happy to report that taking a bus is one of the worst experiences that a human being could possibly endure without succumbing to the torment and taking his or her own life. I may be exaggerating just a bit, but I’m not starting over again.

I recently had to take a bus from Salt Lake City to Idaho Falls. Naturally, you are thinking, “Why would you want to be in either of those cities?” The answer is that I actually wanted to go to Montana, to visit my friend Pat, only there is apparently no bus or airplane service into Montana, which makes sense, since Montana is another place that no one wants to be in, so I had to fly to Salt Lake City, then take a bus to Idaho Falls, then get picked up in a car and driven to Montana. All just so I could sit in Pat’s living room for three days and wish I was somewhere else.

Anyway, that’s why I was taking the bus, but the trouble started even before I got on the bus. I was sitting in the bus station, which was very large and almost empty, when a very unpleasant-looking man came in. He had a scroungy beard, dirty clothes, and he smelled like the shores of Lake Elsinore on a hot day. Naturally, he sat down next to me. There had been nothing in my demeanor or appearance to suggest that I wanted company, but he sat next to me anyway.

He said, “Are you going northwest?”

“No,” I said. “Just north.”

There was a pause, and then he said, “I got hit by a car yesterday.”

That’s when I decided to walk over to the mall and hang out there for a while. Call me a snob — go ahead, do it now, I’ll wait — but any place where strangers frequently begin conversations by mentioning recent personal injuries is not a place at which I care to spend a great deal of time.

Oh, and the bus trip itself was even better. I sat in the back, with the delinquents. Delinquents are required by law to sit in the backs of buses, as you know, so they can drink without the driver seeing them. There were three delinquents on this bus, which I believe is the legal minimum. Two of them were teenagers; the other one was about 30. The 30-year-old had been in prison, I don’t know why. I know he had been in prison because he casually mentioned it. “I’ve been in prison” is what he said, and he said it in much the same manner that the man in the bus station had used when he announced he’d been hit by a car. It’s amazing what some people are proud of.

Anyway, as we traveled, I realized something: Men bond through vulgarity. Here were three men who had nothing in common, except that you wouldn’t want your daughter to date any of them, and you probably couldn’t imagine why she would want to anyway, and yet all it took was for one of them to say something obscene, and suddenly they were all best friends. It’s amazing what a few swear words can do to bridge the gap between strangers. For the rest of the trip, they sat there and discussed such important matters as sex, women, sex with women, women who have sex, sports, and women they’d had sex with. (Lying is another way that men bond. I can assure you that no conscious woman would touch any of these men with a ten-foot pole.) I began to look forward to the five-minute rest stops we took every two minutes, when everyone on the bus got out and smoked and I stayed on. (I was the ONLY PERSON on the bus who did not smoke. I’m not even exaggerating here. I was the ONLY ONE. No wonder they were all leaving Utah.)

We eventually got to Idaho Falls, and I had survived the trip, so I guess it wasn’t so bad after all. I’m lying again, of course, but I don’t want to end on a bad note.

(Eric D. Snider is living at home in Lake Elsinore for the summer, having just finished his freshman year at Brigham Young University. He is proud to mention that he worked at the Lake Elsinore Greyhound station for five years, and he’s not even lying about it.)

Everything in this column is true. That's why it's funny -- that, and because it didn't happen to you.