The Overnight Karaoke Bus From Hell

In the mid-90s, I was living and working as an ESL teacher at a private school in Kanazawa, Japan,  a couple of hours by train from my relatives living in Kobe. I liked to visit them at least once a month to get to know them and stave off homesickness. The train ticket usually cost about $150. Sometimes I took the bus to save money, even though it was a much longer trip.

 

One day, our office boy, Kazu (who also worked part-time for a travel agency) told me that he could get me a free ticket to Kobe that weekend. He was booking a chartered bus which had an empty seat. The only catch, he explained, was "Overnight bus. Maybe you be tired." I said sure, that would be fine, "I can sleep on the bus." He gave me a quizzical look and said, "Ahhh...no sleep." As a foreigner, I was by then used to getting quizzical looks from the locals, so I didn't comment or think much about his hesitation. 

When the weekend came, my boss and his wife offered to drive me to the bus station. "So, Kazu got you on the overnight bus. Have you ever taken overnight bus before? You might be too tired when you get there." I said that I had taken other overnight buses and I could always fall asleep. "Hm. I guess you won't sleep," my boss said. I assumed he figured it would be too uncomfortable, so again I said nothing.

They dropped me off and said, smirking, "Okaaaay...have a nice trip. Let me know how you sleep." In retrospect, I should have wondered why they were smirking.

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Travel and True Love

by Jules Older 

Greyhound killed our college romance.

She was finishing her B.A. at UVM, I was beginning a Ph.D. at NYU, and the nine-hour bus trip between Vermont and New York slowly eroded love, commitment, and finally, even passion. She graduated, found a job, and got involved with an English literature student. I learned my clinical psychology, tasted the pleasures of New York, and struggled through a dissertation.

But when her literary affair ended badly, she called, and I invited her down to my Greenwich Village apartment for a weekend reunion.

Greyhound again.

Greyhound Super 7 Scenicruiser Bus, 1971 by aldenjewell/flickr.com

Farmer's daughter that she was, she'd never seen a ship of any size, so we walked down Houston Street to the waterfront. Good fortune — a cruise ship was about to embark. On the decks stood a flock of blue-haired ladies in borrowed mink stoles and a clutch of grey-haired men in new camelhair overcoats, all throwing streamers to those below. Catching the streamers were grown-up sons and daughters, waving and calling to the departing vessel. 

“Don't worry!” they shouted. “Don't worry!”

I started to worry.

I worried that I'd be grey-haired before I went anywhere. I worried that by the time I left I'd be too old to enjoy wherever I was going. I worried that when I finally embarked from the Houston Street dock, the last words I'd hear from loved ones would be, “Donnnnn't worrrrryyyyyyy...”

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