Saturday, May 30, 2020
The Kind of Girl Who … hurtles with the unwashed masses

NTKOG #57: The kind of girl who, in order to save a few dollars, crams into a cattlecar of hoi polloi in order to travel from one metrop to another. By which I mean: Chinatown bus. Boston to New York. Holy shit.

I am: a huge fan of trains. Trains always seem to make people so much more civilized.

I am not: unwashed or thronging or huddled or anything else that the masses are.

The Scene: Boston. And then, subsequently, New York. Early last week, a group of my close friends and I (Muscles, Justice, and our college friend Consultant) decided to semi-spontaneously jet over to New York to crash in Consultant’s tony Lower East Side manse, drink deeply of the vino, all that good nostaltic stuff. I had, by several hours, the longest commute of any of the invitees; my options, it seemed, were: pony up for Amtrak tickets, or, for a third of the price and easily twice the trip length, cram myself into the cheapo Chinatown bus with 150 of my new best friends!

As an NTKOG bonus: the last decision would almost definitely involve accidentally touching strangers. Lots of strangers. Strange strangers. Ugh.

While I was rushing through the bus terminal at South Station, I entertained many happy fantasies about the trip: a two-seater to myself, enough room in front of my seat to comfortably and productively use my laptop the whole trip, icy unrippled silence, an iPhone battery that wouldn’t run out halfway through… So. You can guess how much of that came to pass.

The guy next to me kept pushing his leg into mine as he fell asleep; at one point, his hand dropped into my lap. The sound waves from my horrified yelp could basically be seen with the naked eye. For the first hour and a half, the girl behind me listened on her earbuds to way-too-loud rap music and sang along. I breathed a sigh of relief (through not too deep a sigh, as the air was friggin’ pungent) when she switched her track selection to instrumental music. Until I realized it was a duet of PICCOLO AND SITAR. A three and a half hour duet of piccolo and sitar.

I shot her a nasty look or two, but didn’t want to start anything, because the type of person who can listen to three and a half hours of full-volume cacophony? Has mental fortitude I never want to see on the battlefield.

By the time the six and a quarter hour trip was over (yes, two and a quarter bonus hours! weekend traffic is teh r0x0rs!), it was a relief beyond all measure to be welcomed by my beloved friends, bearing wine and utterly, utterly divine Levain chocolate chip cookies.

However, lest this trip seem a complete fail, I must admit: the ride back into Boston was as delightful as the ride out was abysmal. The bus was fleet, the passengers quiet, traffic slim, and the book of short stories I was reading, particularly delightful.

The Verdict: I’m going to go ahead and all this one a draw. For all future trips to the metrop, I would consider taking the bus over the train, but would vastly prefer Bolt bus, which has free wireless — and which, btdubs, offers one-dollar tickets if you book a month in advance. How glorious is that?

In general, though some of the masses on the bus were literally and aggressively unwashed, the experience was primarily an exercise in just pretending other people don’t exist. An activity at which, by now, I am fairly skilled. Still, once I’m not longer in the direly lean financial years, trains all the way, guys.

[Edit: Also, I woke up this morning with a crazy ninja death cold. Like, faintingly sick. THANKS FOR NOTHING, UNWASHED MASSES! And cover your damn mouths when you sneeze.]