Photo: Craig Williams

Gus, planes and infected bladders

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By Shannon McEvoy-Halston

I loathe travel. I love being in new, exotic lands untouched by the cruel realities of a Canadian winter, but getting there sucks.

Whether by bus, train, plane or automobile, I’ve yt to find a mode which doesn’t make me want to grab the nearest semi-automatic and venture towards the nearest McDonald’s.

I’ll start with the cheapest mode — bus also known as white trash chariots. Where should I start? Oh, I know — the smell. What is that distinct, cat died and has yet to be found but before he did he peed on everything in sight smell? Why is that the odor-de-choix of all buses? It’s almost like the bus companies are saying, “Hey, you’re poor so we’re gonna treat you like shit.” They know if we had any other alternative, we would have taken it. The bus is the crappiest mode of transportation.

The fact is reflected by the travellers’ moods, which get worse throughout the ride. Why? They are in pain because they refuse to use the bus’ version of a toilet. Who can blame them? Undoubtedly, buses have to be the leading cause of bladder infections in North America.

During a bus trip, it is inevitable a guy named Gus will sit next to you. Gus weighs about 300 pounds and drools on your shoulder while he naps. Or else, Gus will get bored and tell you the story of his wife Barb, and how she left him because he wouldn’t pick up his socks. He will continue to blabber on despite the book you’re reading and the walkman you have on. People like Gus are oblivious to even the most obvious visual clues.

People like Gus also ride the train.

The train — the next step up. It offers more leg room, the option of riding backwards, less tops in unheard-of hick towns and a certain sense of nostalgia. You also get cookies. Sounds nice. The problem is trains take longer, yes longer, than the bus. I didn’t think this was possible. Plus people have a habit of throwing themselves in front of them. This causes delays.

The increased time is my major beef. You see I smoke, meaning on most train trips I die. About on third of passengers are in the same boat, so we’re the crankiest bunch of SOBs. We do everything in our power to make everyone as uncomfortable as we are. We kick seats, sigh, grumble and chew gum noisily, not caring how obnoxious behaviour affects our fellow travellers. It becomes the train ride to and from hell.

Speaking of hell, flying comes to mind. The fastest mode of transportation actually takes twice as long as it should because of all the damn waiting involved. I don’t think I’ve ever caught a flight that has ever left on time. On my last journey, my flight was over an hour late because the pilot was caught in traffic. Meanwhile, I was busting my ass, stressing myself out because I was caught in the same traffic. Yet somehow, I managed to arrive and check in on time. Awfully suspicious.

Since flying sucks, I guess I should drive instead. Unfortunately without a car or licence, I have to rely on the surest way to end a friendship — the infamous road trip. It always starts out as a great idea, with the promise of being a lot of fun, but it never works out that way. So instead of bitching about the process, I’ll give you a few tips to make them a little less painful.

First, bring every music tape you own. Do not only bring three or four, because you will end up hating them. Second, invite someone you hate. Since you’ll end up hating at least one of your companions, inviting someone you already despise will only force you to hate them more.

On second thought, I’ve decided the best solution is to walk everywhere. I realize this limits my options but consider the alternatives.

Next week, I’m planning to go to North York. I hear it’s beautiful there.

 

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