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By way of background, the last trip you make before you graduate from the center is to go to a city, preferably one you weren't familiar with, run an errand, and come back--on your own, with no supervision, no one watching, nothing. This was mine. I don't know if their tradition is to give you something terribly embarrassing or if I was just lucky, but my mission was to find the Dillard's department store in the Alexandria mall and collect perfume samples from that counter and bring them back.
I chose to go to Alexandria, LA, about a two-hour bus ride away from Ruston. The Greyhound sales droid assured me that a bus would return to Ruston at 6:00 that evening, which was absolutely perfect. Therefore, I boarded the bus to Alexandria. The ride was uneventful. It was boring. We got to Alexandria and it was drizzling slightly but otherwise wasn't unpleasant. I walkd into the bus terminal to ask where I could catch a city bus, got directions, and off I went.
I stood on the corner for over a half-hour waiting for the bus. A truck eventually pulled up, and I asked if he knew where the bus stop was, as I was beginning to worry a bit. It seems I was on the right corner but the wrong street. So I turned the corner and very quickly boarded a bus to the mall. Lucky me, the bus went there directly!
I entered the mall, collected my perfume samples (somewhat sheepishly, I might add), went to the Chick Fill-Ay for lunch, dropped in at the record store, had a nice chat with the girl in the record store, bought a CD, noticed the time, and rushed out to catch the bus back to the Greyhound terminal. I even made it on time and got back by 6:00 PM.
Here's where I entered the Twilight Zone.
I asked about the bus to Ruston, and was told that the bus to Ruston didn't run then, it only ran evenings on Mondays and Fridays. My choices were to take a bus to Shreveport at 3 AM, change to a Monroe bus at 7 or 8, and get into Ruston at 9:30. Alternatively, I could get a bus straight to Ruston at 12:30 the next day. I was pissed! I was even more pissed when a bus pulled out and was told that the bus was going to...you guessed it...shreveport. I went to the can, gave it a minute's thought, and decided that I would have to find an hotel anyway (I wasn't hangin around the bus terminal until 3 AM!), so I figured I may as well get some sleep. The asshole wanted to charge me for another ticket. I said nope, no way, I already paid for one ticket, I'm not paying for another. Forget it. He backed down. Very wise, I thought, since it was Greyhound's mistake after all.
I called the Center, updated them on the situation, someone suggested I might try taking a cab (yeah right!), and I'd see them tomorrow. In short order, I decided I was hungry. Remembering that during a brief layover I found a nice drugstore with a grill in it, I thought I might go in search of it. I soon met two fellow travelers who were waiting for other buses and weren't doing anythin else, so we all decided to go to dinner together. We didn't end up at this drugstore, but rather found ourselves in a fairly nice restaurant. We sat down and enjoyed a nice dinner with some. Ah. Interesting conversation.
Danny and Debra didn't know each other. Debra had issues; she was 19, married two years to a military man, had a child she was going home to. She had some very strange and (I think) somewhat misguided views of the world. She was against interracial dating, for instance. She carried around a pocket knife that she passed around to show us. I swear this thing had a four-inch or so blade on it! She wasn't messing around...it was a little frightening. I mean here she is flashing this huge-assed pig sticker in this restaurant and talking about how she wasn't afraid to use it. Scare me to death! Dan was (I think) staying at a Salvation Army temporarily, and I don't recall where he was going.
We finished dinner and went in search of an hotel. I knew there was one nearby, so we headed off in that direction. Unfortunately, that hotel was full of Baptists. In fact, all the hotels were full of Baptists because there was a Baptist convention going on, but this one particular hotel might have a vacancy. We called them, they had a vacancy for me, I took it! Called a cab to get there, the cab came up, and we got in. (They decided they wanted to be sure I got settled. I didn't mind the company, even if Deb. seemed a little unstable.) Turns out the cab driver's son was the computer teacher at the center at the time! Very odd, that.
We went to the hotel, and they didn't have a reservation for me. Then they had a solution to the mystery: the phone book had that hotel's number listed next to an hotel across the street and vice versa. So we called the other hotel, which had my reservation, went there, got the room (which was very nice), and the trip was very normal after that. As a side note, it was a good thing I had the perfume samples. A fellow bus passenger needed one and asked for it. Seems she hadn't showered in some time. LOL
Well that's it. Unbelievably odd.
Copyright 2002. Feel free to distribute this thing as much as you like so long as it's freely distributed, unaltered, (although excerpting is OK), and my name is attached. You wanna do something else with it? Send me Email. But keep your spam to yourself (as if I believe you spammers will.)