'The Hunger Games' Of Travel
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'The Hunger Games' Of Travel

A transportation experience unlike any other.

'The Hunger Games' Of Travel

As the holiday season is upon us, talk of travel plans linger around the dorms and classrooms as the thrill of being home for a whole month sets in. A common form of transportation for Pittsburgh area colleges is the delightful bus system: Greyhound, Megabus, or Peter Pan -- (which is slightly misleading, because this is definitely no fairytale). Although seemingly reasonable for the price and accessibility, bussing home is an experience unlike any other. The few trips I have taken have opened my eyes to a whole new world of transportation.

The abounding chaos known as the bus station

Upon entering the bus station, an immediate sense of confusion and frustration sets in. Questions such as “Where do I go?” and, “Why can I physically not move?” are floating around as people hustle to find their line. This place might as well be a zoo, and the birds (yes, birds) flying around inside the building add to the wildlife feel. The birds clearly don’t know what is going on, along with the the extremely courteous employees. When kindly inquiring where I am supposed to go, I am often met with a hostile terminal employee who also has no clue where I should be. I have come to find that the easiest way to find some sort of direction is to ask all the college-looking kids surrounding me. I usually go for the line with all the kids in Pitt and Duquesne apparel and stand with them as we all share the same looks of complete confusion. My favorite part of my most recent trip was when the Pittsburgh bus was finally called to board (an hour and a half late) and the line erupted in clapping and praise. You would have thought the Steelers had won the super bowl, seriously.

Boarding the Bus

Although I feel immediate freedom after leaving the zoo behind me, boarding the bus is equally nuts. As a Greyhound employee throws my over-packed luggage onto the bottom of the bus, it is a fight to get a decent seat on board. It's as if we are competitors in the "Hunger Games." My once “friends” in line at the station are now my opponents. A decent seat is crucial; I would recommend a nice spot in the middle of the bus, preferably the window seat with an outlet and no unrecognizable stains on the seat. Claiming the window seat allows you to avoid the awkward “Hey, don’t mind me, I’m going to reach over you to plug my charger in” conversation, which ends up being useless because the outlet doesn’t work anyway. Whatever you do, avoid the seat next to the bathroom at all costs. Otherwise, prepare to be overwhelmed with a constant parade of loiterers, unpleasant scents and bathroom door banging. Trust me, just don’t.

The Ride

After the overly enthusiastic driver introduces himself, usually along with a statement of something along the lines of “We are all in this together” (what is this, "High School Musical?"), the bus departs from the station. The beginning of the trip is a chance for you to really get to know the people sitting around you. Inevitably, there is always the guy listening to his music way too loud, the girl obnoxiously cuddling her boyfriend in the front seat, and the old man snoring two rows behind you. It is both comical and aggravating, but horribly frustrating in the moment. If you are lucky like me, the man next to you will offer you a cold beer from the massive cooler stashed below his seat. Thank you sir, but I have three papers to write, an exam next week, and a presentation to prepare for. I will have to kindly pass and stay sober for this road trip. Speaking of beverages, Greyhound trips always make a quick stop at a rest area. This is for people like me -- those who choose not to use the bathroom aboard and like to get a quick drink or snack. Unlike trains or planes, fancy meals and cute little packages of cookies are not offered on the bus. The bus driver usually announces, “OK, 30 minutes everybody. Be back here on time because remember, we are all in this together.” Fast forward 30 minutes and the bus driver is nowhere to be found. How typical, right? As if we don’t have places to be or people to see. Let’s just take our time and enjoy this ride even more.

Home Sweet Home

Finally. After a long few hours, haunting smells, and unusual interactions, we have arrived. The driver hands out high-fives as we escape the bus as if to say, “We did it.” We have survived the "Hunger Games." Whether you are traveling home for winter break or returning back to school, I hope you remember that we are all in this together. Happy traveling! May the odds be ever in your favor.
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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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