I’ll admit that I have never been a loyal customer. If I can fly where I need to go, or drive, chances are pretty good I won’t be enjoying your service. Years ago, in what I guess people refer to as their “salad days”, I was at least a more frequent customer. My last experience with you just guaranteed that I will never hand you another of my hard-earned dollars.
I was willing to put up with quite a bit as a greyhound customer. I’ve gotten used to the fact that your terminals are always placed in an area of town that would make Moqtada Al Sadr nervous. I’ve perfected the “don’t fuck with me” look one needs to negotiate the gauntlet of pimps, panhandlers, dealers and deadbeats always lurking around your front doors. I’ve come to grips with greasy, over-priced “food” at prices so high as to make airport vendors blush. I don’t even miss the shoes I’ve had to burn after walking on your floors, waiting for my bus to leave. I suppose I always figured that the 7-8 employees standing around talking, smoking or playing grab-ass had just somehow managed to synchronize their breaks.
See? I don’t expect that much from your organization. In the back of my mind, I always figured that if I ever, in some kind of karma driven pay-back from the universe, had to ride one of your buses, I would take solace in the fact that I wasn’t on Amtrack.
So, Wednesday, I didn’t arrive at your ticket counter with undue expectations, and, true to form, you guys did a stellar job of reinforcing my beliefs about greyhound, Inc. That said…this is where, if you will excuse the pun, the wheels come off the bus. I walked up and asked two questions of your bored to the point of hostility ticket clerk: “Is the bus to Huntsville an express bus?” and, “how much is the fare?” Her answers: “Yes. The bus to Huntsville originates here.” (Good, I thought. ) and “the price of your ticket is $23.50″. Hmmm. $23.50. In my head, I’m doing the math, and instantly decide that being transported roughly 120 miles for around 19.58 cents a mile wasn’t bad at all. “SOLD!” I proclaimed, and, with customary flourish, presented my credit card and I.D. The clerk yawned, swiped my card, and, after the printer thingy spit out my ticket, placed it into a folder approximately the size of a standard brochure. She then wrote the gate number on the front, and waved me away from her.
Quick explanation is necessary: I had to be in Huntsville before 7:00 pm. The 4:25 express bus that originates in Nashville was scheduled to arrive there by 6:20, and was only 1 mile from my destination. I had arranged to be picked up at that time. Sure, it was cutting it close, but I allowed for traffic getting through Cool Springs.
At 4:30 pm, some woman burst through Gate 2 and announced that the 4:25 bus to Huntsville would be leaving promptly at 6:00 pm. Again, like a microchip on on steroids, I did the math. “But, excuse me ma’am, but my calculations lead me to conclude that I would then not arrive in Huntsville until almost 8:00 pm!” I swear, she looked at me like I had just emitted a Taco Bell fart, and walked away. I hurried to the ticket counter and informed the woman there that since they could not place me in Huntsville at the time agreed to, I would like a refund. She snatched the folder from my trembling hands, reached in, removed my ticket, and with a yellow marker, highlighted the #2 sized font that informs the traveler that the ticket is non-refundable. She says “you purchased a non-refundable fare”. I asked, “Is there a refundable fare?” Yes, she says, its 5.00 more. “But you didn’t offer me that choice, ma’am.” “Next!” she screamed.
Thankfully, I have some good friends. I called Aunt B, and said one word: “Roadtrip!” She was all “I’ll be right there, anything to skip doing dishes!” And I made it on time. No thanks to Greyhound.