When I got to the Montreal Greyhound station this morning the queue had woven untidily through available space and back almost out to the pavement. I thought about the Oxford to Newcastle Megabus (a nifty six hour journey) I pass on the way to work. Seeing the odd, pale, typically beaten passenger having a quick puff on the pavement.
I parked these reflections. This was going to be a bus journey and a half. I had music, books, wifi, kip potential and the Vermont autumn scenery to soak up. By the time I reached the front of the queue other stragglers had joined and we were directed to another bus. A new bus. An express bus. Driven by Dave.
I would want to employ Dave, or a someone like Dave, if I ran my own organisation. A exemplar in minimal interaction, keeping passengers informed/in line, and doing what matters.
I settled into a seat next to a woman wearing a round straw hat with her nose very firmly in a book. ‘Don’t talk to me’ she said without words. Comfy seat, space and big windows to beak through. A greyhound on the right side of shiny.
There was chatter at first. People exchanging peculiar transient life fragments; where they were going, where they’d been. Why we were on that bus. The demographic was mixed with a hefty dose of young, scrubbed student types. An older Greyhound-pro on his way to give an engineering lecture sat in front of me. He had a striking comfortableness with the process. Leafing through his newspaper he could have been sitting on a hotel balcony with a cup of coffee.
An hour or so into the journey the bus was largely quiet. People hooked into books, phones, tablets or dozing. There was weighty traffic as we approached the border and we inched forward slowly.
“Can you hear me?! I’m stuck on the bus. I’m stuck on the bus at the border. I don’t know what time. I’ll ask the driver.”
“What time will we be stopping in Brunswick?”
“We’re not stopping in Brunswick. This is an express bus.”
“But my ticket says Manchester.”
“You’re on the wrong bus.”
The promised border guard eventually appeared. After a brief chat Dave told the woman caller to get her stuff and wait for the next bus. The rest of us were get off the bus with our ‘on bus’ bits. Cases could stay in the hold.
“Is this yours?” said the young woman sit across the aisle to me. “It fell into my bag when you stood up”.
My red pear. From my hotel breakfast.
“You might have a bit of trouble with that pear. You aren’t allowed to bring fresh fruit into the US.”
“You might want to lose it or declare it…”
“Lose it? Like leave it on the bus?”
“Mmm. That might make things worse. You should probably declare it.”
I got off the bus with the pear and a tub of grapes humming in my bag. We were herded into a new queue.
“Does anyone want a grape?” I asked.
The grapes went down well. I was allowed to keep the pear. Back on the bus we drove through spectacular countryside, had a break in torrential rain at White River Junction and arrived in Boston around 7pm.
Dave switched the lights on.
“Are you visiting Boston or do you live here?” asked the woman sitting next to me.
So much more than a ‘bus journey’.
I was taken back to this transport related piece of wisdom from LB.