One of the worst things about the Greyhound bus is the fact that there are no assigned seats. So passengers can sit in whatever vacant seat they like. What this means for you is that there is a distinct possibility that the man you saw earlier holding a 30 minute conversation with a vending machine, will get on the bus and sit right next to you. And there’s nothing you can do about it.
Or so most Greyhound travelers think. Fortunately for you, however, I am not most travelers. I am the self proclaimed Greyhound Guru and as such it is my job to help you with any issue you have on the Greyhound bus.
Don’t want to sit by other passengers? Fine, I’m all over that. Listed below are 5 techniques I have used on several cross country bus trips to secure a whole aisle to myself. And only on two occasions did they result in any type of arrest and/or prosecution–so I know they work.
1. Dress For The Ocassion – Instead of wearing your best clothes on the bus, come dressed in a standard issue hospital gown–preferably one with the back out. Cough loudly and frequently whenever someone passes your seat. And mutter things like: ‘The doctor said it was contagious but I don’t believe her’, ‘Terminal illness? What does that even mean?’, or ‘Remind me to never volunteer at the CDC again’.
If you really want to sell it, bring a large ziplock bag full of pills on the bus with you. Whenever someone looks like they are about to sit next to you start rummaging through the pills and asking: “Where is the one I’m supposed to take for my bowels?”. That should get them to move (Get it? Haha!).
2. Let Go and Let God – Bring a copy of the Bible on the bus with you and read aloud the passages that condemn sex, drinking, and drugs. No one wants to spend the next 4 hours listening to you describe why pretty much everything they did last weekend has condemned them to Eternal Damnation so you shouldn’t have to worry about a seatmate.
If the Bible isn’t your deal feel free to substitute whatever holy book you hold sacred: The Koran, The Talmud, Selfish by Kim Kardashian. Basically any book that will make some people terribly uncomfortable.
There is a warning associated with this tip, however. Loudly reciting Bible verse may attract the attention of some of ‘God’s Faithful’ who will believe they have found a fellow brother in Christ. There is nothing wrong with this except that you will probably cross paths with one of the Faithful that believes he actually IS Christ. And he will plop down next to you and want to lay hands on you, attempt to turn your Dasani water into wine, or even worse try washing your feet. So you will either get a seat by yourself or end up being recruited as an Apostle. It’s a toss up…
3. Out of the Mouth of Babes – The next tip is one anyone can do with no problem: Steal a baby and bring it on the bus with you. Why? Because there are few things people would rather avoid on a long bus trip that sitting next to a small child.
In a recent survey I just conducted in my head while I was making it up, 97% of Americans said that they would rather sit next to a card carrying member of Al-Quada (who it turns out wasn’t carrying a card after all but rather a incredibly thin brick of C4), than sit next to a 18 month old baby while travelling.
This is because babies have the annoying habit of breaking into their favorite pastimes of pooping and crying at any given moment. And occassionaly they go all out and add drooling to the mix! It doesn’t take much imagination to realize what this will do to your nerves, not to mention your sense of smell, after a few hours on a cramped Greyhound bus with bad acoustics. No one wants to be the person sitting 3 rows back from baby, let alone sitting right next to the thing.
Of course the obvious downside to this tip is that YOU will end up having to sit with the crying-pooping-drooling baby that you bring on the bus with you. Don’t worry, there is a easy solution to this problem. It’s called Crown Royale and they sell it in small 50ml bottles that are just perfect for baby.
Once the bus pulls off and there is no danger of anyone sitting next to you, whip out the Crowne and give the baby a stiff shot of it’s ‘medicine’. In about 5 minutes the baby will be in a deep, deep slumber that should last for hours. Now all you have to do is take your own dose of ‘medicine’ and join him.
4. Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep (Sorta) – Pretend to be sleeping every time your bus takes on new passengers. Now I have to admit that this tip isn’t a Greyhound Guru original. I see people using it all the time on the bus. And for good reason–it works!
No one wants to wake someone up. Especially not someone who looks like they are in like level 18 Super REM sleep. It makes people feel bad. And they start thinking about Karma and wondering if they will be able to sleep later if they wake you up now.
So I highly recommend you playing possum whenever the bus pulls into a station to pick up more passengers. Spread your body over both seats on your aisle, close your eyes, get a little snore going, and pretend to be sleeping the sleep of angels. You more experienced sleep actors might even want to incorporate a slight drool, sleep talking, and random leg twitches.
Of course, you have to be careful not to actually fall into as deep a sleep as you are pretending to be in. Do that and there’s a chance that you might wake up missing carry on bags, pieces of clothing, and in some extreme cases–your virginity. This is the Greyhound bus after all, so leave the real deep sleeping to the people with nothing left to lose.
5. Feel Free to Use Props – Bring an orange traffic cone on the bus with you and put it in the seat next to you. Most of us are conditioned since birth to avoid traffic cones and Greyhound passengers are no exception.
If anyone does ask why you have a traffic cone sitting next to you, just point at the cone, point at the floor, and then point out the window. This display of absolutely pointless finger pointing should confuse them enough that they move along and leave you and your cone alone.
If you are in a rougher urban area where the cone by itself doesn’t seem to be scaring anyone, try wrapping some yellow crime scene tape around the seat as well. A little red food coloring to simulate fake blood probably wouldn’t hurt either. Just don’t go too overboard with your props because you don’t want someone getting so worried they actually start to investigate. Fortunately, no one on the Greyhound bus typically cares enough about what is going on around them to call security or 911, so you should be ok.
When your trip is over you can sell your cone to someone who is staying on the bus. Or you can take it with you and use it as a weapon against the panhandlers that frequent Greyhound bus stations.
Or you can throw it at the guy who was sitting behind you in a open back hosptial gown, quoting passages from the Tao Ti Ching, and swapping liquor shots with a crying toddler. It will probably be me. And for the record I just want to say that if I had known you weren’t really asleep, I would have never tried to wash your feet…