May 15, 2005

People I met on the Greyhound

Elmer, the red bearded Amish farmer from Ohio, who talked to his family in
Pennsylvania Dutch until he fell asleep.

Chicagoan, who was trying to sell a gold necklace with the line “come on, let’s see some of that corporate money.”

Sioux, who asked for money and then, when I turned him down, gave me a not-really-reproachful-sermon on the sameness of all places and peoples. “Cool, man,” I said, “but I don’t have any money.”

Flannelled Fargo native, who told me he’s really from Portland and was just here on a layover 15 years ago when he met his woman.
Fargo grandfather, who built a four-course meal around hash browns.

Fargo grandmother, who said somehow in the space of a sentence I didn’t quite hear, the words “BMW” “Root beer floats” “the Pulitzer” and “99 cents.”

Pretty librarian, who said, apropos of nothing I could hear, “to all intents and purposes, he should be dead.” I stared until she noticed, and then went back to reading.

Girl playing pool in the sports bar named Sports Bar, who told her friend to tell the guys they were from Josef’s - “What’s Josef’s?” “Cosmology” - and sunk six balls in a row.

Sleepy bus driver, who swerved a lot the night out of Fargo, then decided to stop for the snow in Dickinson, MT, and went into the diner kitchen to wait for a phone call saying the roads were clear. We waited three hours.

Minnesota sisters, Bri and Jordan, going to their mother’s wedding in Montana. Brie spent the trip reading, doing the big sister act, or calling ahead to see if it was snowing and to plead with somebody not to do crack while they were there. Jordan became the sweetheart of the back of the bus when she harassed the sleepy bus driver for information, and then started a group game of hangman.

Wigger, who was quite taken with Jordan, reading a bio of Tupac, and spent the afternoon singing “back it up, back it up.”

Guy with the grizzly pony-tail, who laughed a lot and kept suggesting that somebody “twist one up,” going back to MT from Knoxville. He didn’t have any money, and bummed a cigarette at every stop and traded me his white oak walking stick for a can of peanuts.

Little girl with big brown eyes who pointed out the scenery to Wigger, saying “ah-wah! Ah-wah!”

Girl from Quebec with the boyfriend from Texas, who spent half the trip trying to get the little girl with brown eyes to play with her instead of Wigger.
Man with an atlas, who kept tabs on exactly where we were and assuring us the bus in Billing’s would wait even though we were an hour late.

General, who was a big black man that never said anything to anybody and was wearing black and white camo, knee-high boots, a military jacket and cap.

29-year-old Woman going to Seattle to celebrate her 30th with high school friends. Catholic, daughter of the Billings political journalist, who complained a bit, apologized for complaining, shared some yogurt-covered pretzels, then fell asleep on me all the way to Spokane.

Simon, an Italian grad student studying linguistics in the US who said he was riding the greyhound to see “how the other half lived,” who stood in the aisle to hit on the 29-year-old, got distracted by my questions about school and talked to me about philosophy, who was called a “homo” and told to “sit down," who gave me his e-mail and said he'll send me his recordings of Derrida lectures.

Prison construction guy, who kept saying “lemme dive, I’ll do a hundred all the way,” and told us how he’d always come home drunk or stoned and couldn’t remember his wife’s name and she’d be like “how come you calling me Dog and Dude?” Marriage only lasted eight months, he said, ‘cause she was crazy.

Jeremy, who met me at the Spokane depot with coffee and a book.