The Start of a Loooong Bus Ride
Trip Start May 14, 2012
2Trip End May 17, 2012
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The morning was misting and cool - I always forget how much I like early mornings, because I tend to be exhausted when I wake up early enough to enjoy them.
Finally, Dad dropped me and my bags off, and drove off for work. I was quite early and soon found the sign for "Bus Terminal", so sat down to wait until 7:30, giving me time to relax and calm down a bit. From nerves, I ended up heading off to the terminal at 7:20, and a good thing I did - the bus terminal took MUCH longer to reach than I thought it would!
It's a strange system - you go all the way past the trains outside, go through a door on your right (located in a dark and isolated area), down some stairs, around a corner, up a tall escalator, through a lobby, up another escalator, and out a door that leads to the Gates. I almost gave up a few times, but found little televisions listing arriving and departing busses - Philadelphia, Gate 12, 8:15AM. Once I found the door for the Gates I was fairly relaxed, thinking all I had to do was find Gate 12 and stand in line. Nope. Gates 11, 12, and 12 are all crammed into a tiny corner section, alongside the upper 20's gates. I saw a well marked sign for Gate 11 to New York, and a whole bunch of people lining up for it. There were signs for 11, 23, 24, and 25. I walked around the 11 line via an empty 25 to NYC, and found a kid my age who looked to be standing by a door marked 12. When I asked if he was waiting for Philadelphia, though, he seemed confused and gave an unclear answer that I deduced meant he was in the 11 line.
So I went back and sat on a bench near the gates. A girl came and sat next to me, and as everyone who arrived at these gates seemed a little confused, especially because there didn't seem to be any official people to talk to, so I asked her if she were going to Philly. No, she had missed her bus to New York and now had to wait four hours for another one. She certainly made me more nervous – I couldn't imagine what I'd do if I missed my bus. I finally got the guts to ask a woman in the growing 11 line where she was going, and she confirmed it was NYC. It was then I overheard a woman asking a Megabus worker (who had miraculously appeared) about the Philadelphia line. He directed us to wait in a line next to the NYC people, and then when they boarded we would take their place.
The woman, besides directing other people to their respective lines, immediately started asking me about where I was from, my school, and my political views (which I’m happy to defend but always wary about expressing). She, I learned, was in Boston for Mother’s Day (the other choice was Florida). The bus arrived and massive NYC line boarded – I couldn’t believe they would all fit on that one bus! – and then we filled in the line. I was third from the front. That is, until the Megabus guy came back and explained how it would work: the people for Washington D.C. would board first, then the people for Philadelphia, then the people for the short stop in Secaucus, New Jersey. This was to make it easier to get luggage off at each of the destinations, which makes perfect sense – only I had had no idea this bus was also going to Washington D.C. To make matters more annoying, a woman and her husband ducked under the ropes, trying to cut in between me and the woman. The woman, the man in front of her, and I all stared at her. She attempted to explain that "we’re older, we should be able to sit down first, and if I don’t get a seat on the bottom of the bus I’ll throw up." I didn’t say anything, although this woman was clearly out of line – literally. The woman I’d been talking to, however, explained to this woman what every small child is taught: "It’s not okay to cut in line. All these people, including us, got here early and have been waiting." “Oh, they’ll understand,” said the annoying woman. “No, they won’t.” But the annoying woman was very persistent, so the first woman went out onto the platform (which is clearly labeled saying “No passengers on platform” xD) to speak to the Megabus official. The cutter started talking to me about how people were so inconsiderate and YOU understand, don’t you? I tried to remain non-committal and said as little to her as possible besides “I’d rather no one threw up”, which apparently was a mistake because as soon as the first woman came back, the cutter said, patting my arm, “It’s okay that we get on first. She doesn’t want me to throw up.” I literally said,” I am staying out of this.” The Megabus driver, as relayed to us, had apparently said something along the lines of “If you have so many concerns, you should have rented a limo.” I really liked that guy.
After that and until the bus arrived, the first woman and I talked only to each other and ignored the woman and her husband. Short of physically forcing her to move we couldn’t really do anything, so the two of us shared an annoyed eye roll and made plans to try to sit together on the bus.
The bus arrived right at 8:15, the time we were supposed to leave. The people for D.C., who had been lining up next to us, were loaded first, then the people for Philadelphia. We ended up in seats up top, near the front of the bus, me on the aisle, and I was happy to learn my laptop bag fit perfectly fine under the seat, with some room to spare. I think I much prefer the top level of such busses; they have so many more windows and feel like they have more room because of them.
We finally pulled out of the station a little late, at 8:30. I tried to sleep, since I was very tired, but
it’s always difficult to sleep in moving vehicles, and a little uncomfortable. I fully woke up after about an hour, when I finally thought to ask for the name of the woman next to me: Helen. From 10 to 10:30 we made our only rest stop, at a Burger King (ick) in Connecticut, along with all of the other busses that had left around the same time as us. It was a very early and unneeded break. I walked around a bit, and am now sure we will be late getting to Philly.
I’m treating this trip as a practice run for when I’m in Europe. Most of my travels will be like this next fall: one-and-a-half to two days of travel, one-and-a-half to two days for exploring. In this case, I actually know the language and I’m staying with a friend, so it will be both safer and cheaper. Two trips on Megabus cost me, with fees, a total of $52.50. Not bad, and if I’d booked earlier it would have been cheaper. I’m bringing a total of $104 dollars with me (and $20 is from my grandparents) and I’m hoping to stick to cash and not use my card at all. Helen has suggested a few places for me to go in Philly (I told her Jackie and I are already planning on the Liberty Bell today and the Franklin Institute sometime this week): the Reading Terminal, the Masonic Temple, and some church across from it.
I should also mention that this is my first long ride on a public bus, and my first alone. I'm sure, between visiting college friends and Europe, it will be the first of many!