This past weekend, I made the trip to Pittsburgh to attend a conference for my organization. I was exhibiting and presenting a session. Since Pittsburgh is only about 3 hours from our house, I figured to save a little money and do right by my Association, I would leave the driving to Greyhound.
Bonus? It was opening weekend of the 2013 NFL season. We purchased tickets to the Steelers game, and my husband and sons drove up Saturday evening after a full day of their own football. After my 8:00am Sunday morning presentation, we headed to Heinz Field for the game at 1:00pm.
But back to me, damn it. And the sacrifices I made for this trip. Sacrifices like…say…taking a Greyhound bus to Pittsburgh because it was only $25.
Why was that a sacrifice, you ask? Because taking the bus to Pittsburgh turned out to be the pits. Let me explain.
To start, the bus was 25 minutes late. In that 25 minutes, I had this amazing view of downtown Frederick, MD to enjoy on a lovely day:
Unfortunately, the view wasn’t able to take away the pain of the late bus, because I also had the visual — and in some cases audio — of all this:
- What appeared to be the Frederick County Chapter of the Friends of RJ Reynolds gathered right outside the station door creating their own little smog factory. Did I mention the station has only one entrance? And those of us with a bladder the size of a thimble needing to use the restroom had to cough our way through the smog cloud.
- The girl inside the station on her bedazzled cell phone breaking up with her boyfriend. She dropped the f-bomb loudly and no fewer than 14 times in less than 2 minutes. Yeah, like I was going to try and take a picture of her.
- A local man showing me how he eats cowtails candies by smashing them, then rolling them up to chew them. You don’t want to see a picture of that. Trust me.
The bus driver was anxious to make up time. So she was less than pleased when one of the baggage doors wouldn’t shut properly. After trying to jam it closed repeatedly — and so hard it put a noticeable dent in the door — she turned to the station manager and asked “You got a hammer?”. Fortunately, her brawn was just the ticket, because on her next effort she broke the hinge and the door shut. I was grateful my bag went in the other baggage compartment.
Once I stepped up onto the bus, it was clear I would be sharing a seat, since
some most pretty much everybody was taking up two seats by stretching out to sleep.
I took a seat next to a guy I swear was Lamar Odom (hard to believe he would leave rehab just to take a bus from Richmond to Pittsburgh, but maybe getting out of the Kardashians’ klutches was totally worth the ride). Lamar was asleep and his long legs were encroaching on my territory, so I snapped a picture for proof. But the picture didn’t do me any favors:
The lady sitting across from me was also taking up more than her fair share of space. At one point, she kicked the Gatorade bottle out of the holder and I watched her as she watched the bottle fall to the floor. And then she ignored it. But I didn’t ignore it, as it rolled across the aisle toward me. I picked up the bottle, and said “excuse me, I think you dropped this.” Her response was to sneer and say “oh, right.”
Of course, then I had to go to the bathroom. A rolling bathroom. How bad can it be, right? Well, it was no better than a port-o-potty. The wretched smell and sloshing of what was in the pot was enough to help me set the land speed record for use of mobile facilities. To top it off, there was no sink — just a bottle of hand sanitizer attached to the wall. Once I was done, I whimpered my way back to my seat.
Figuring it was best to tune out at this point, I decided use my iPhone iHeart radio app with my earphones. Unfortunately, the mountainous terrain we were passing through pretty much resulted in me checking my iPhone every 30 seconds, only to see this:
Why it didn’t buffer during the @#$%ing commercials, I just didn’t understand. The buffering also sucked the life out of my iPhone (and so did all the Instagram pictures and Facebook updates while I was at the train station, truth be told). I ended up pulling out my laptop, hanging it in the Gatorade holder, and charging my phone that way. I only prayed Lamar didn’t have to get up to use the bathroom which would ruin my elaborate electronics set up.
About an hour and a half outside of Pittsburgh, we made a stop at a rest area. With indoor plumbing. Which made my use of the rolling rest stop all that more soul-sucking, since I didn’t know we were making a stop.
The driver gave us these instructions:
- Do not smoke near the door of the coach.
- Do not wait until the last minute to get in line for food.
- You are responsible for watching the time during the 15 minute stop.
- And she ended with: I will not come searching for you. We are all grown.
Lamar and I looked at each other and nodded in agreement.
During the stop, there was one lady who must have thought she was on an airplane. Because girlfriend brought her own pair of flotation devices. I only know that because they were pretty much hanging out of the cut-down-to-her-navel neckline of her shirt. Didn’t get a picture of that either. Sorry, pervs.
After the rest stop, it was a pretty uneventful hour and a half ride until we arrived in Pittsburgh. Once I retrieved my bag from the undamaged compartment, I made a bee-line for my hotel. It was only two blocks away. Once I checked in and dropped my crap off in the room, I then made a bee-line for the pub across the street, where they have a $6 martini special until midnight every Friday.
Yep, the martinis were just what I needed. Until the next day, when I saw that my exhibit was not in the hotel, but at the University of Pittsburgh. However, the conference organizers were kind enough to provide a bus to get us to campus.
Yep. Taking the bus to the ‘Burgh is the Pitts.