Unforeseen circumstances have thrust me back into a more tenuous situation. My mother is in the process of buying a retirement home and it has not gone smoothly, placing everyone under a lot of stress. Initially, we stayed at my Aunt’s house in St. George. Unfortunately, my mother decided to involve my sister and this ultimately led to a breakdown of our relationship in the middle of the trip. At Independence, Missouri, we decided it would be best if she continued her drive without me and that I would complete the trip by bus. My mother paid my fare.
I have not travelled by Greyhound before and it is a new experience. It has been a great way to see the country and meet interesting people from everywhere. Given the length of the layovers, I have been able to see some sites I would not have seen otherwise, like the Arch in St. Louis and the CNN Center in Atlanta.
Travelling by bus requires a lot more patience and flexibility as the schedules often involve lengthy layovers. The first bus I took was delayed by one hour. This pushed everything back and I had to have my ticket reissued. As my arrival time was fairly flexible, this did not effect me personally. Greyhound re-issued the ticket and provided me with a meal voucher and a voucher for future travel. Other travellers were inconvenienced much more than I was. I hope they received greater consideration in their compensation. It seems a simple matter of respecting the people travelling.
One of the biggest challenges the travellers have is keeping track of their baggage. At each layover destination, travellers must make sure they secure their baggage and get it to the next bus. This is very different than the airlines which check bags through and the system seems antiquated and prone to error. More experienced travellers advised me to make sure that I made sure that my bag always made it to the next bus. Baggage is also subject to random searches at the bus terminal and I was wanded before boarding the bus on one occasion at the Orlando terminal.
The bus also has on-board amenities such as wi-fi and plugs for charging electronic devices. Unfortunately, my experience with the Greyhound bus wi-fi has been fairly poor. The download speeds are simply too slow for anything beyond the most basic text-based pages. I have been unable to post to WordPress via the Greyhound wireless services on the bus. I was able to connect at the Daytona Beach location which runs its own public linksys.
Sitting in the back of the bus exposes you to the smell of the bathroom, so it is best to get a seat in the middle or the front. In addition to that, the bus prohibits the consumption of any alcohol. One of the drivers explained this was due to federal regulations. I find it a bid odd that alcohol is readily available on plains and cannot find any basis for the policy other than to target the poorer populations that utilize Greyhound services.
At the Greyhound stations, a myriad of strange issues have emerged. Each Greyhound station seems to have its own policies and practices, so it is impossible to generalize about all of them. In St. Louis, the terminal did not have lockers because the city will not allow them to install them. This meant that when I took my side-trip to the St. Louis Arch, I had to take all of my bags with me.
Anti-loitering policies are also a source of enormous tension at the Greyhound stations. Travellers might be told they cannot be at the station too early. I’ve watched security warn a few travellers at the Orlando station and even saw the police involved in one incident. Rather than directly involve myself in the affair, I approached one of the security officers and referred him to my blog with the hopes that perhaps he and the other officers will have a greater appreciation of the needs people in this situation have- and the poor alternatives to short term shelter- especially those that homeless shelters provide. The officer told me some policies were already being reviewed. In order to avoid these issues at the Orlando Greyhound and not stay on the street, I opted to utilize my Greyhound Voucher to schedule an early morning trip to Daytona Beach.
So far the Daytona Beach station seems fairly laid back and people are helpful. The linksys connection is allowing me to make this post. Also the station manager will allow me to store my things temporarily if necessary even though the lockers have been removed.
Which brings me back to Atlanta where I managed to make a quick stop at the CNN center. I still had some old press releases for Tore Loves Eliza in my bag and I tried my best to distribute them. I gave one to the concierge, one to my CNN tour guide Justin, and distributed several on the street. I cannot help but feel that had the press looked more closely at the problems I encountered in the homeless shelters in a timely fashion it might have raised awareness about these issues in other settings like the various Greyhound stations as well.
Some of these problems stem from America’s over-reliance on an antiquated system of civil rights rather than human rights creating a society that is at best half-free. Given the added difficulties people face trying to secure their civil liberties, as my own court case demonstrated, even these protections do not amount to enough.
I find myself once again confronted by daily injustices. I witness the injustices and sometimes I experience these injustices myself. I do what I can to overcome these experiences. Like any gamer, I simply dedicate myself to fighting my way out of whatever hell I find myself in.
What I can’t overcome, is my love for Eliza Dushku. That is why I continued to distribute the press releases even now, years later. I think about Eliza all the time and she is the source of my every hope and dream.
It is likely that I will sleep in the sand today and tonight. I prefer that to any shelter scenario and am completely out of money. This will probably be a much more limited hardship and one that might arguably be avoidable.
Still, it brings back a flood of memories and the haunting sadness that I am still without the one thing my heart desires more than anything.