Supposedly there’s a Chinese curse that says, “May you live in interesting times.” I say “supposedly” because I once asked a Chinese scholar about that and she said, “I’ve never heard any such thing in my life.” It’s probably an expression some guy cooked up and to make it sound more interesting he decided to claim it was a Chinese curse. Uninteresting times can be a curse too. Recently I took a trip by Greyhound bus to Cincinnati. I made the same trip last year and then it was interesting because it had been about a quarter of a century since I’d taken a Greyhound bus anywhere and things had changed significantly. This time all the things that were different before were still the same. Well, almost all the same. The men’s restroom had just been repainted and I went in there and literally watched paint dry. Then, because I have a smartphone and the station had free wifi, I went out and looked up “watching paint dry” in Wikipedia. Smartphones mean we never have to be bored ever again, and I had mine loaded up with podcasts and music, and even if the battery went dead I had my bag with my journal and copy of Mark Twain’s Life On The Mississippi. I didn’t expect my battery to go dead, of course, because I knew from my last trip that the bus seats have plugs you can use to recharge your device.

I got on and grabbed a seat and a young man in a purple hoodie sat down next to me and we both had our phones out and that’s when I noticed there were no plugs at the seat I picked. My phone died about half an hour out of Nashville so I followed Twain’s progress to New Orleans while I went northward.

When we stopped in Louisville I went into the restaurant/gift shop to get coffee. Then, still holding my coffee, I wandered out then tried to go back in. “Sir!” yelled the man behind the counter. “This is for customers only! Once you go out you can’t come back!” This was more baffling than it was interesting.

Back on the bus I found a seat with wall plugs and my phone was full and so was my bladder by the time I arrived at the Cincinnati Greyhound station where the men’s room had not been freshly repainted because such a coincidence would have been too interesting for this trip.

I went to Cincinnati, by the way, to see some old friends and a talk by Neil Gaiman which was extremely interesting. There’s an old saying that’s also been attributed to the Chinese that the journey is more important than the destination, but sometimes it really is the destination that matters, especially when it’s the destination that’s interesting.

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  1. Allison

    My last bus ride was Nashville to Atlanta on Mega Bus. This woman got on with her 2 kids. One in a carseat, one elementary aged. She had them in 2 seats and sat across the aisle from them. In Chattanooga, a woman got on and needed seat, so rather than give the newcomet the window, she slid over and let the stranger sit next to her kids. I thought that was weird. And rude. The kids were good, but… what the heck?

    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      That is weird and rude. I’m glad the kids were good and I know I’m speaking as someone who’s not a parent but I really wouldn’t want some stranger sitting next to my kids if I were.
      Also I really want to take a MegaBus sometime. It seems like they’re much better than Greyhound, which has really gone to the dogs.

  2. Jay

    Oh yeah, sometimes we thank our lucky stars for the destination. Sometimes that destination just cannot come quickly enough.

    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      For me part of the fun of travel is usually getting there, but there are definitely times when I wish I could skip that whole part.

  3. Ann Koplow

    Interestingly, I keep coming back, Chris.

    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      Interestingly I always look forward to your comments.


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