Monday, September 18, 2006

Riding with the rich

The Special Lady lives in NY, and I live in Baltimore. Hence: travel. From my previous stint in DC, I have become achingly familiar with all modes of transport from this region to Manhattan, and I can assure you that they are not equal in quality.

Worst: Greyhound. Not even close. Do you like hanging out in the DC Greyhound terminal? Do you like delays & defective buses? Do you like being slapped in the face by a defective restroom door? Do you like inhaling vaporized urine while your seatmate crashes from his methamphetamine high and starts to angrily poke you with his erect penis? Do you like bus drivers who take breaks from driving on I-95 to grab a pack of smokes at the Chesapeake House rest stop? If so, Greyhound is for you.

Second-worst: Chinese/Jewish bus. Can be good, but quality is highly variable. Taking the bus from Baltimore is a serious bitch, however, as it requires hanging out in the "Travel Plaza."

Third-worst: Driving. And here we're talking about driving my 1989 Honda Civic with 243,000 miles on it. Music/radio options are technologically limited to my lone remaining tape (R.E.M.'s "Eponymous") or Mike and the motherfucking Mad Dog. You see the problem.

Fourth-worst: Flying. Gone are the days of the cheap & quick DC-NYC shuttle, sadly.

Least Worstest: Amtrak. So easy. Silky-smooth. Penn Station to Penn Station. And so damned expensive. Seatmates are drawn from a different social stratum than are Greyhound seatmates. It was almost parodic. My seatmate on the way up was a headshrinker who was writing her keynote speech (about "countertransference") for some headshrinker conference. On the way down, it was a amiably roly-poly opera lover of Chinese descent who spoke with a thick Jamaican accent. He was a Kingston-raised NIH biochemist who jets up to NY every weekend to catch opera. He kept forcing me to listen to his Bose noise-canceling headphones & then he explained the plots of Carmen and Parsifal to me. He nearly wept when quoting scenes of particular emotional content. Now: compare him to Mr. Poky Poky on Greyhound.