Surviving a cross-province trek via Greyhound

Illustration by Ed Appleby
Illustration by Ed Appleby

How I almost died to save a few bucks

By Cazzy Lewchuk, Staff Writer

Recently, I took a trip to the far backwoods of Calgary, Alberta to visit relatives and celebrate the end of the semester.

Greyhound buses are considered one of the best forms of travel… right after airplanes, driving, trains, motorcycle, bicycling, or merely walking the 970 kilometres. The company offers some of the lowest rates around, in exchange for abandoning non-essentials such as seatbelts, comfort, in-travel entertainment, and a sense of security and safety. Eventually I arrived at my destination, only somewhat the worse for wear.

I arrived at the terminal at 3 a.m., realizing that a middle of the night trip was slightly cheaper and a lot less crowded. On my way into the station, I was approached by no less than four very friendly bearded men offering me not only opportunities to make money, but generously cheap offers for sexual favours and illicit substances. Imagine my reassurance when I saw these same men later boarding the bus with me! You certainly don’t meet these sorts of friendly characters when flying.

I took up a conversation with my seat mate about the weather, which quickly devolved into exciting stories of his time spent in incarceration. I was momentarily terrified, but quickly reassured when he told me he was “set up by the fuzz,” and that, “ma cook buddy betrayed me.” He even showed me a weapon he had made in prison to deal with “losers” and “people who look at me funny on buses.”

We stopped for a quick break at 7 a.m. and my new friend offered to take me behind the bus so he could “deal with me,” which I assume meant offer me a cigarette. Not being a smoker, I politely declined. I received a few more offers while stretching my legs for narcotics and sexual acts; I’ve never had so much attention paid to me in my life.

In fact, I was so distracted by these friendly people that I realized the bus had left without me. I quickly talked to the lady working the ticket counter, who called me a “low-ass idiot punk” and after a while offered to book me on another bus departing only 12 hours later.

Having been too enthralled by the conversation with my seat mate to sleep during the bus ride, I fell asleep inside the terminal. I woke up without my shoes and with a confused fellow peeing on my leg. I pointed him in the directions of the restroom and, after a few more hours of declining friendly offers, got on a bus going to Saskatoon.

A few days later, after a couple more layovers and confusion, I arrived in Calgary missing only my luggage, shoes, and wallet. Despite the cost of replacing these things, it still remained cheaper than flying.