* Caution! The following blog contains the mundane scratchings of the criminally insomniaed (yes, I just verbed insomnia. And verb. Deal with it) and may cause drowsiness. Do not read while driving or operating heavy machinery. *
Well, it's Christmas morning. About 5:30. I'd like to say that I'm up early because I'm excited. But that's just not true. I already know Santa didn't bring me anything. In fact, he didn't come at all. I know. I was up. All. Night.
Now, I could tell you that I was unable to get to sleep. But that just wouldn't be true. No, I came home from a delightful Christmas Eve party and sat on my couch for about six hours. Watching Scrubs.
There are worse ways to spend an evening. Anything involving any combination of the words grandmother and pornography, for instance. Although, I have a story...
But that's for another time. The truth is, I'm not an insomniac. I could have gone to bed and drifted off into the sandman's lair with relative ease. But I was just too lazy tonight.
Yes. You heard me right. I've finally arrived at that point of laziness achieved only by the occasional stoner and politician. I'm now too lazy to sleep.
Where's my trophy?
I'm not too worried about it, because 1.) Today's Christmas! and 2.) I'm on vacation anyway. I tend to get this way when I'm not actively employed. Besides, I've got a 30-some-odd hour bus trip ahead of me tomorrow, and Greyhound buses are some of the most comfortable places to sleep in the world. Inevitably, you get stuck next to a 500 pound behemoth whose girth is comparable to the actual circumference of the bus, and once you get used to the smell of unwashed belly flab, the rolls make for a nice, warm pillow.
When I tell people I'm taking a Greyhound bus trip, their responses usually fit into one of three categories:
"Who are you, and why are you telling me about your life? And for god's sake, where are your clothes? I'm calling the police!"
2. Shock, Disbelief and Inquisitiveness
"OH! MY! GOD! I can't believe you are going to sit on a bus for 36 hours! How can you stand that? Why would you want to? Why don't you just fly? Or drive? Or walk? And where are your clothes?"
"Awesome! Can I go?"
Of course they raise some valid points. Why would I take a bus across the country when a plane is so much more convenient and faster and cleaner and less likely to give me tetanus? The answer, I think, was most eloquently voiced by Scrubs special guest star Colin Farrell in the season four DVD (episode 14--"My Lucky Charm"), in his crusty Irish brogue:
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the reason I'd rather take a bus across the country than drive or fly. If I could, I'd hitchhike. Unfortunately, it's moderately illegal and strictly prohibited on my leave chit. Bummer.
See, exciting things happen on a greyhound bus that you'd never see on an airplane. For instance, I've never seen anyone get thrown off an airplane for being drunk. If anything, it's encouraged, so that people will relax while hurtling through space at 600 miles per hour, thirty-thousand feet above the ground. I've yet to take a Greyhound trip where I didn't' see some drunk fool getting the old boot in the ass as he stumbles down those three steps and out into the night in the bad part of town.
When you fly, you wait in line at security, deal with testy ticketing agents, overly friendly and overly made-up (and overly medicated, most likely) flight attendants, pre-flight checks, take-off clearances, final checks, checked baggage, tiny bags of pretzels, seat-belt signs, beverage carts, and, of course, that nagging threat of terrorism. On an airline, you always know what you're going to get. You'll sit next to some annoying passenger who demands the window seat, only to get up three times on an hour-long flight to use the bathroom. Any conversation you hoped to have struck up with the attractive traveler on your right will be shut down by their iPod, which will probably be blasting that Top 40 garbage loud enough for the entire cabin to hear. You'll pick up your magazine or whip out your laptop, intent on ignoring the cacophony spearing you in the ear from your right, while your neighbor on your left sits trying to make inane conversation about his girlfriend's dog or how he's the vice president in charge of investor relations of his daddy's firm until you want to shove his head into the airsick bag (remember when they were called barf bags? I'm bringing that back) into the barf bag to get him to shut up.
But on a Greyhound, it's different. For one thing--no barf bags. But also, it's the excitement of the unknown; the open road that draws me toward this method of travel. Will I sit next to that Hispanic man and his two children? Perhaps, although that boy looks to be foaming at the mouth, so maybe I'll find another seat (you have that freedom on a Greyhound). Maybe that moderately attractive transvestite desires a traveling buddy. But the way he (she?) is looking at me with an odd combination of murderous rage and unbridled lust is somewhat unsettling, so I'll move on. Ah! Here we go. The sweet-looking elderly lady with the bluish-gray hair and the Oxygen breathing apparatus. Now that's my seatmate. However, after 400 miles, her emphysematous hacking and constant mistaking me for her dead, philandering husband is grating on my last nerve. I fear I'll wake up with a knitting needle in my brain. So I calmly switch seats.
You see, on a Greyhound, you meet a completely different slice of humanity. The people for whom a plane ticket is, at best, an unnecessary indulgence, and, at worst, an unattainable luxury. They are at once the foundation and the forgotten majority of America. The woman being interviewed on the local news in her purple spotted mu-mu and bright pink curlers. The homeless man you pass every day on the street, who just found out his son has passed away. The single mother bringing her children to Grandma's for the holidays. The smart-ass twenty-something insomniac who thinks he's too hip to fly (commercially). This is the America that you don't see in People. This is the America that Democrats ridicule and Republicans court reluctantly. This is where the good stories are.
And I'll tell them to you when I get back.