As a child, I was an avid reader and rather partial to the “Magic School Bus” series. I idolized Ms. Frizzle and remember being disappointed that my first grade teacher didn’t have red hair. My favorite story detailed the exploration of the human body, as the class traveled through the digestive system of fellow classmate Arnold. I even had the computer game developed by Microsoft – I vividly recall that the white blood cells turned into police cars to chase down pathogens.
While my field trips didn’t include an exploration of space or a journey through the body, boarding the yellow bus was still an exciting prospect.
Our first excursions in elementary school meant an outing to Forest Park, home to St. Louis’s museums, the zoo, a boathouse and the like. It was always important to secure a faithful bus-buddy, specifically one who would let you have the aisle seat. As we got older, my school provided more sophisticated buses, complete with televisions, reclining seats and a bathroom in the back for our longer road trips to Memphis and Chicago.
Fast forward to high school: the yellow bus made its return for away basketball games and debate tournaments. Having your own seat was crucial, whether attempting to finish some homework or focus before facing your competition.
Last weekend, I visited a friend from home attending Sarah Lawrence College. There was no magic school bus or even a plain, yellow bus to take me to New York City. Now, for everything else, there is the Greyhound Bus Line. By “everything else,” I mean for a college student with no car who feels the long hours on a bus are worth the difference in cost between Jet Blue and Greyhound. And yes, I am one of those students.
I temporarily regretted this decision when I was sitting at the bus depot last Friday morning at 7:08 a.m. (I was due to depart at 7:45 a.m.). The coffee vending machine was tempting until I realized that it was out of service. This proved to be a wise choice by default since I quickly passed out after boarding the bus.
While the aisle seat may have been prime real estate in second grade, there are certain advantages to having a window seat. Not only are you guaranteed a decent scenic view, it is optimal for sleeping purposes.
Also, I personally am not really interested in the life of the lady sitting two rows ahead and am not inclined to initiate conversation; thus, the window is a perfect way to discourage unwanted social discourse.
Layers are essential, too. They make excellent pillows and blankets and, wrapped up, can even serve as a surrogate teddy bear. Plus, you never know if the heat will be functioning properly. Don’t count on the little overhead lights to work, either. They probably won’t, so don’t bother switching seats. Just be prepared and bring a flashlight or a small reading lamp if you plan on doing any work.
I do not mean to discourage anyone from riding Greyhound, however. While it may be a less convenient and comfortable way to travel, it is a viable option. Just don’t expect any science lessons from Ms. Frizzle.
Squires is a member of the class of 2010.