Friday, December 12, 2008
port authority station, 5:30 am
i know port authority is better than it used to be -- it is no longer dangerous -- but can anything ever wipe away the deep sense of weary endurance and oppression? the crazies may be locked up or out on the streets, but down underground in port authority bus station, the exhausted are dozing, chins on their chests. there is a camera keeping watch on them or over them, or both, or neither (is there always film in those cameras? aren't some of them placebo cameras, meant only to warn, like a car with windows tinted so dark you cannot see inside?). and look through the glass partition, there on the wall ahead of you, pictures of greyhound's storied past, when its name was not synonymous with poverty. you can just see the celebrities or beauty queens of their day, the dignitary in a long coat, with an aristocratically slim, clothed, greyhound dog. a mascot.
but i admit, there have been a few encouraging signs over the last trip. is the company on an upturn? i do hope so. if so many people ride grey-mutt even being treated like cargo, think what the market would be for a company treating riders like people! saint louis station is no longer housed in an old bank which, despite the beautiful ceiling and greek columns, was a horrific vision of all against all when the time came to board the bus -- without a line. yeah. i remember seeing the amish people, originally right behind me, getting shoved and out-vicioused until they were way at the end of the line. i remember telling the bus driver angrily, and his chin jutting out in indignation, his finger pointing at the gentle people, their startled looks and eager scrambling to the front of the line. . . so there is a new station there. and in several stations i was amazed to see a staff person present when boarding happened. boarding is always the time of maximum confusion, of questions simple and complex. and there is never anyone there but the harried, late, driver. so. . .is the english company actually trying to make riders feel like people? well, i hate to say this, but a recession might not be a bad time for a bus company to actually grow business.
but the scent of weariness will never go from port authority station.
and by the way -- i actually like riding the bus. if intensity and variety of experience is your thing, greyhound is for you. you bounce back and forth between rage, aches, serenity, anomie and companionship so fast you hardly know if you are coming or going. by the third day you are in a trance, a soft state where sleep is voluntary and immediate, at any time. or you can float across the face of the earth awake.