Tuesday, January 26, 2010


So this one time, I was on a greyhound bus.

How I got on the greyhound is kind of a long story involving a sick son back home in Minnesota, a wedding of our close friends in Des Moines, and a whole lot of factors that put the "ex" into my ex-wife.

But I digress.

So I'm on the greyhound from Des Moines to Minneapolis. If I had been in my car, which was taken back to Minnesota by my now ex-wife, the trip would have been between three to four hours.

On a greyhound? A lifetime.

As I boarded the bus, I began to feel like I was in a scene out of Mad Max. The other passengers were dressed strangely, had crazy haircuts, and I was quite sure that for the first time in my life I was the most sane person in a 30-yard radius.

One man, sitting in the aisle across from me, caught me looking at him and gave me the stink eye back in return. He was covered with tattoos and piercings, and looked as if he probably had killed men twice my size who were twice as fast and twice as smart as me.

Do you know how many stops a greyhound makes between Des Moines and Minneapolis? I do. And if I described them all, the interwebz would explode from too much data.

But on the "mid-way stop" in Mason City, we were given a reprieve to leave behind the dark, stenchy bus quarters for a 20 minute breath of fresh airport, um, air.

As I made my way toward a designated smoking area to light up a Marlboro light, I was drawn to another passenger who looked as if, like me, he was trapped in an alternate universe.

"Hey there. Fun trip, huh?" I asked him in my genuine Iowa boy friendly banter voice. "Yeah, this is definitely different," he replied. He was wearing nice dress slacks, loafers, and a Hawaiian shirt. His head of short red hair was hidden partially by a golf visor. He essentially looked like any other business man you might see at the last day of a trade show in Pensacola ("Hey Stew, it's the last day of the show, let's not wear the company polo shirt, and instead let's be crazy and wear our Hawaiian shirts!").

As he pulled out a second cigarette during our short break, he asked me if I had a light as he just used his last match.

Thinking to myself that maybe I just found someone who could sit next to me the rest of the way and make the trip less painful, I gladly reached into my jeans pocket for my lighter, reaching out toward his hand with it.

As my hand got within a few inches of his outreached palm, he suddenly and swiftly swiped his palm away, and in ninja-like fashion slapped my hand hard enough to make the lighter fall out of my hand and onto the ground between us.

"NO YELLOW LIGHTERS!" he yelled.

"Huh?" I asked, still stunned.


I turned around to the person standing to my right. And there I saw tattoo and piercing guy, looking at me as he made the universal sign for "he's crazy" while pointing toward my new yellow-lighter fearing BFF.


I thought for a minute about explaining that I did indeed buy the yellow lighter in a store, and not in some back alley in Clive. Then I realized there was really only one lesson to be learned from all of this.

Never take the bus. Never.


Anonymous said...

See, I knew I had stories like this in my bag! I took a bus trip from Houston to Seattle with two VERY small children once. Had I known then what I know now, I would have walked instead. I assure you that was the single worst trip of my life. I do have plenty of laughable moments during the 3 day event though.

Jenn said...


My brain would have exploded at that point.


I especially want to find out the details, but I'll have to call you for that, eh?

Randee said...

OY VEY....the greyhound bus. I have a friend who met her husband on a greyhound from SUX to Iowa City. I took WAAAAAY too many (one was too many) a greyhound between Columbia and SUX during college....oh man. I feel you onthis one....and thanks, now the fume of greyhound bus is in my nose.

Garoutte said...

When I was a kid (12-16) I used to take the Greyhound from SUX to Des Moines (via Omaha) every summer to visit my Dad. The Omaha bus station is no place for a 12 year old to be alone. Nowadays they'd probably call the authorities if you tried to send your 12 year old kid on the bus alone. One of the many things that has changed since we were kids (and maybe this one was for the better).

Kasey said...

Absolutely entertaining!!! Love it! I am so going to buy a yellow lighter now!

Anonymous said...

Everyone knows that yellow lighters are bad karma. It's like, the say the universe is wired, man. The only reasonable sounding explanation for this superstition I've ever heard was that white and yellow lighters will stain very easily if you use them to cover the bowl (of cannabis) and this makes it easy for cops and narcs to find stoners at a glance.