Thursday, August 08, 2013

It's not the heat, it's the banality

Don't take me
Remind me never to travel by bus again. Guy in front of me is the sort who says “discourse” and “ostensibly.” Guy to my right snores, probably almost as loudly I do.

Retrieving a package from under one’s seat requires contortions. We’ve just got through our second highway traffic jam only to wind up in our third. This should delay us long enough to arrive in Philadelphia smack in the middle of the evening rush hour.

On a bus, I can experience the physical discomfort of modern air travel and (Woman in front of me just said: “The amount of people.”) the inconvenience of road travel all in one loud, cramped, knuckle-cracking, banality-spouting, hairy armed, sharp-elbowed package.

The “amount of people” woman just said that she used to take Amtrak all the time, and “I don't know if it was accident or suicide, but someone jumped onto the tracks every time.” Discourse Boy sounds like he went to film school. So take the train. But be aware that Amtrak appears to have “rationalized” its pricing, the way airlines do, so book well in advance, or you may be forced to pay big bucks.

© Peter Rozovsky 2013

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Blogger John said...

You're not going to escape this kind of thing no matter how you choose to travel unless you're in the privacy of your own car. Buses, trains, planes... even ferries.

I heard the exchange below while crossing to Nantucket years ago and have always remembered it.

20-something woman: Wasn't David Copperfield set on Cape Cod?

20-something man: David Copperfield? You mean the magician?

Hope the rest of the ride to Philly was less painful.

August 09, 2013  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Thanks for the attempted consolation, but I beg to differ that a car trip would have been any less painful. In fact, I spent a good portion of the journey silently cursing the automobile and its proliferation. At least in a train, I'd have been able to get up, walk around, mingle if we were stuck motionless on the track. And my two ferry trips in recent years have been exceedingly comfortable. My vote goes to trains as the best way to travel.

And yes, the rest of the trip was less painful. In fact, I repented of having vented my spleen when I had a pleasant and commiserating chat with snore guy as we approached Philadelphia.

I can understand confusion over the setting of David Copperfield, the book, not the magician. I have not read it, but a fair number of Massachusetts towns and counties, including at least one on Cape Cod, were apparently settled by people from towns named in the novel: Salem, Yarmouth, Norfolk, etc. Still, overhearing that exchange on yesterday's journey would have driven my blood pressure up all the more.

August 09, 2013  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I crossed the English Channel on a ferry this spring, where the quiet drone of the engine and the seclusion of my cabin below deck would have drowned out any stupidity emanating from above.

August 09, 2013  
Blogger Kelly Robinson said...

I used to travel by bus a LOT, and I still ride a lot of city buses. I used to try to choose one leaving as late in the evening as possible so I could sleep all the way -- not that that's an easy thing to do. At least it was dark and people were mostly quiet, though.

August 15, 2013  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I take city buses every day and have for years. I've managed long, overnight rides quite well, and also short ones of two hours or so (though see my next post!) Is those rides of medium length, six to eight hours, that seem to drive me over the edge.

August 15, 2013  

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