Bus Rides

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On the post I did a couple days ago, on list of things I don’t like, I was pondering about including taking buses.  I couldn’t do it.  I don’t mind buses.  Actually, I sort of like taking buses. I like watching the world go by at a car’s speed, being a little higher than a normal automobile.   I say that, but I haven’t done it since I could afford not to.

I think the last time I took a bus was way, way back when I was staying semi-permanently at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs.  I didn’t have a car and mass transportation was the only way I could get around alone.

I was going back, from Topeka to Colorado Springs.  The bus left Topeka pretty late in the evening, to WIchita, where I changed buses, then to  Pueblo and Colorado Springs, through Southwestern Kansas and Southeastern Colorado.

There were a bunch of Harley motorcycle guys, minus motorcycles, waiting in Wichita for the Colorado Springs bus.  They were trying to pick up a girl, who was receptive, so there was a lot of beer drinking going on.

We all loaded on the bus, I had my own row,  At the very last minute, a couple police officers brought this guy to the bus.  He was handcuffed and talked to himself.  They took the handcuffs off and loaded him on the bus.

My luck, the guy walks down the aisle and sits right behind me.  And then he proceeds to talk to himself constantly.

I was trying to sleep, but was pretty interested in his personal conversation.  He was saying crazy shit over and over again.

We’d been moving a few hours, so it was really late, the middle of the night, maybe around 2 or 3 am, when the guy started saying he was going to “do it” over and over.  I was sort of asleep, but he grabbed my seat to stand up and woke me.

He stood up and started walking towards the front of the bus, saying “do it”.   I was wondering where he was going since the bathroom was at the back.  He walked straight up to the front and, with no hesitation, jumped on the driver’s back.  I couldn’t believe it.

I don’t think bus drivers had to wear seat belts back then because they both fell to the floor, in the stairwell by the door.  I couldn’t really see it, but after it was over, I learned the guy that was sitting behind the driver reached over and grabbed the steering wheel.  The bus slowly slowed to a stop.

The Harley guys were at the back of the bus, having their way with their new friend, but when this all started, they were on it.  Right when the bus stopped, a couple of them were nearly to the front.  Somehow the door opened and everything was outside.  They had this guy, I couldn’t see it, but I could hear and feel it as they proceeded to smash the guy’s face into the side of the bus.

Pretty soon we were all outside, in the middle of nowhere, Eastern Colorado.  It was so dark. Everyone started smoking, including the bus driver, who seems more like one of the Harley guys now, even though he was wearing his bus driver outfit.

I used the time to wander off and pee.  I couldn’t believe how many stars were in the sky.  I could hear someone smash the guys head against the side of the bus every once in a while.  He wasn’t very docile, even though his face was hamburger.

The bus driver used his radio and called ahead to the next town.  When we got to this small town, there were some sheriffs waiting for us.  Like I said, all this didn’t slow the crazy guy down much, he was mad.

They handcuffed him again and were talking to him, when all of a sudden, he takes off running down the main street, which was abandoned.  One of the sheriffs sort of laughs and takes off jogging after the guy, who wasn’t really running, more like stumbling.

The sheriff pulled out his billy club and when he gets behind the guy, he wacked him across the back of his head.  That was it, he was out.  He was laying flat on his face, in the middle of Main St.  The sheriff just casually walked back to get his car.  The crazy guy wasn’t moving.

We all got back into the bus, and drove past the unconscious guy in the street,headed to Pueblo.

This really didn’t sour me to riding buses, I just moved up the economic ladder a tad, so avoided them.  I still took an occasional train, but I think that was my last cross-country bus trip.

I like trains better than buses, and I like buses in Europe or South American way better than buses in the US. I say that, but haven’t taken a bus for long time, so maybe I’m off here.  I should try it again.

This is what a bus looked like back then.

This is what a bus looked like back then.


38 thoughts on “Bus Rides

  1. BW

    This is good writing. The whole story was awesome.

    “I used the time to wander off and pee. I couldn’t believe how many stars were in the sky. I could hear someone smash the guys head against the side of the bus every once in a while. He wasn’t very docile, even though his face was hamburger.”

  2. Barb

    Just for being crazy, this guy probably incurred a traumatic brain injury on top of mental health issues. Our compassionate species. What was wrong with just subduing the guy and tying him up until they got to the next stopping point?

    1. als

      Where was the mentally ill guy’s compassion when he tried to kill a bus load of people? A lot of people, most people, especially Hells Angels types, don’t take to kindly to those whom try to kill them, perhaps you’re different Barb. Perhaps had you been there, you would’ve tried to talk some compassion into ‘Sonny Barger’ by saying, “Now, now, boys we shouldn’t do that. We should show compassion to this man. He is mentally ill so its okay that he tried to kill us. We should tie him up and spoon feed him some apple sauce and let him drink from our juice boxes.”
      Really Barb?!!?
      Now before you go ape shit on how The Hells Angels are scum and don’t show any compassion at all, please keep in mind that they one of largest donor groups to worthy charities such as Jerry’s Kids.

      1. Barb

        HE’S MENTALLY ILL. He didn’t intentionally think “I’m going to kill a busload of people” I’m sure, because people with mental illness aren’t aware of reality. That’s why they call it crazy. And two wrongs don’t make a right. The guy has mental problems, so that’s justification for those he-men bikers beating the crap out of him, and the cop whacking him in the back of the head with a baton? Sorry but I take exception to bullying and this was just bullying in my book. People using this guy as an outlet for their own issues, including the cop. No excuse for it, when other methods were available. Just my opinion.

      2. Barb

        I’ve been on the receiving end of bullying on more than one occasion. If I’d been there, I might have tried to stand up to them, charm them out of beating on the guy with persuasion, something. Are they going to beat up a woman? Maybe, but not in front of a bunch of witnesses. This guy was an easy target for bullies.

      3. KrakatoaEastofJava

        The president of our fine city’s chapter of the HAMC lives around the corner from me. Lives a quiet and peaceful life in our neighborhood (as far as I can tell), and that’s after 11 years of being his neighbor.

      4. ALS

        So what were the Hells Angels and cop -or anybody for that matter – to do? Ask the fella if he’s mentally ill? If he says no, then commence the beating or if he says yes, then get some rope, apple sauce and juice boxes? Or should’ve they gave the fella a mental health/substance abuse evaluation right there on the rural desolate highway and then dole out their prescribed treatment accordingly? I’m not certain but I’m willing to say must physiologists and psychiatrists don’t travel by Greyhound or amongst Hells Angels/motorcycle gangs. However, if they did, I’d reckon they could use that travel time as part of their continuing education lincensure requirements.
        I suppose another option would’ve been to throw the fella off the bus during a rolling stop then continue on their way. With that nonviolent option there’s no need for a beating or even rope, apple sauce and juice boxes. But that probably would also be considered mean and uncompassionate – how would the fella get to his pre-determined jail or psych ward? And what would become of the compassionate and unsuspecting person who stops to help the stranded fella?
        So I guess were back to asking the fella if he’s mentally ill, to which I’m sure he would’ve said yes. So then should’ve Sonny Barger asked the fella to calm down so they can tie him up? Perhaps he would’ve complied if he knew he was going to get some apple sauce and a juice box?
        When somebody is having an mental episode or under the influence of certain drugs they feel no pain, they can easily overpower 3-4 men. Sonny and his crew didn’t “bully” this fella, they were damn near killed by the actions of this lunatic. I’m sure they (as was everybody else on the bus) full of adrenaline. The lunatic didn’t comply, so a bit of violence was needed to subdue the fella. The Hells Angels could’ve easily killed the fella with one of their knifes or beat him to an inch of his life and leave him for dead, which would’ve been a bit cruel, but they didn’t.
        Call it what you will but I’m not going to agree with you that they bullied this fella nor “proving (to themselves) that they’re tough guys/men by beating on others.”

      1. Barb

        I know, I hear you Steve. It just really *bothers* me when I see, or hear about people being bullied, beaten, when it’s not necessary. When is bullying ever necessary? There were enough of them there they could have subdued him easily. I know, that isn’t human nature, unfortunately, especially men who have to prove (to themselves) that they’re tough guys/men by beating on otehrs. 🙁

      2. Barb

        LOL~ if those harley guys were so tough, what were they doing riding on a bus? Sounds like the Wild Hogs to me. (travolta movie)

  3. numbnuts

    that’s kind of hilarious story… do that now a days though and every political correct do-goodie would be there at one’s front door.
    The cops should have hauled the guy away if he was a nut case…
    (probably/definitely some mental health issues or maybe just really really loaded?)

    I’ve never encountered anything like that, but in one remote town many many distances away someone took a machete to someone then started eating his head…

    my ex wife used to work at the royal ottawa and such in her younger years (psych major), she’s seen some strange sht… where people would threaten to stab others with a used needle and such.

    Anyhow, good thing the HA/bikers were on the bus… they set the lad straight I guess 🙂

    1. Mr. Ed

      That guy, Vince Li, now out on the streets in Winnepeg!. His head wasn’t all he ate…..

      When I was a Jr. in high school I took the bus to a football camp in Laramie, WY. I sat next to a “working girl” from Vegas. She showed me her card certifying she was tested and educated my naive ass on a lot of things! Surprising I didn’t take the bus more often after that!!

  4. Clifford

    Dang. I used to take the ‘Hound back and forth between Montana and Colorado, and once to Kansas, when I was a freshman in college. Nothing that crazy happened – just desolation and weirdness.

    1. RGT

      Don’t forget the boredom. I did a couple of round trips from PA to UT, way cheaper than flying at the time (late 70s). IIRC a one-way ticket was something like $70 but it took three days to get there.

  5. MG

    So, back in Wichita, the police just put this guy on the bus and left? Wow. That’s responsible policin’ right there.

    1. Steve Tilford Post author

      MG – Those were the days when you “escorted” someone out of town, or out of the state, as in this case. Just put him on the bus and ship them to Colorado. It isn’t that uncommon. Even now. Remember when the authorities Nevada were shipping the mentally ill to San Francisco and other places.(http://www.sfexaminer.com/sf-reaches-400k-settlement-proposal-in-nevada-patient-dumping-case/) Kind of frowned on. As it always should have been.

  6. Mat

    Awesome story!

    I used to ride the train from near Iowa City to Colorado. I could leave after dinner and be biking or skiing by breakfast time. One winter on my way back to Iowa a bad storm rolled through Chicago, so they were holding all the eastbound trains in Omaha. In Omaha they loaded us all on buses. I sat next to a woman who claimed, over and over to anybody listening, that in the last 25 years the only vehicle that she had ever been on the road with was a Cadillac. She liked the train, but the bus just wasn’t going to work for her!

  7. Eric Vacek

    Wow! Nice story:) I’m beginning to think you’re like the Forest Gump of crazy random stuff. It’s always nice lunch entertainment reading stuff like that eating at my desk:)

  8. Kevin Burnett

    I left home in Michigan when I was 19 on a bus to British Columbia to hike the Pacific Crest Trail. The first night this woman sat next to me a proceeded to ask me the same questions every five minutes while flicking her Bic lighter with the flame set at maximum. Eventually she told me she was on the bus to go and kill her cheating boyfriend. She then pulled a gun out of her purse to show me how she was going to shoot him.

    We had a 30 min stop in the town where she was getting off and she said we were going to hit a bar and hook up in the alley. As soon as the bus stopped I ran off and ran down the block as fast as I could. I hid out until the bus was ready to go then jumped on at the last second.

    1. TheRealDonaldTrump

      Lesson learned: If I were you, I would have hit that. Could have been the best sex you ever had. The emotionally disturbed gals on Greyhound busses are absolutely the best. I sometimes have my pilot take me and the Sikorski out to rural Midwestern Greyhound stops. I pick out the crazy ones, take ’em back to Trump Tower, hit the sheets, and then my pilot flies them back to the bus’ next scheduled stop. Sometimes I give them a nice gift basket to take with them. It’s great, because you never have to see them again. A few will come banging on the doors at 5th Avenue, but my security team throws them out. No one believes them anyway, because they’re (you know) bat-shit crazy.

  9. Dude Ron

    Might a been same guy that threw a punch at my Greyhound driver at 2am between Albq and TrC New Mexico in 2004; this guy was pissed cause we were laughing at his drunk ass since he claimed to be a Bounty Hunter as he bullied migrant workers, he missed the driver fell into the stairwell and layed there until we stopped at a truck stop in BFEgypt then he stumbled off into some Goatheads where a bunch of truck drivers came out to look at him I remember the driver saying we had to get going since The State Cops were going to take 45 minutes to get there!! I wrote a short story on taking De Dawg on too many cross country trips heck those bastardos lost my Basso Gap with full Mavic group in 1991 somewhere between Albq and Tucson never to be seen again!!

  10. Dude Ron

    Just remembered this one we were coming out of St Louis and DEA stops the bus and gets on searching everybodys bags before they exit they ask if this little Red Gym bag belongs to anyone and since Nobody claims it they take it off the bus meanwhile some guy that looks like a member of Lynyard Skynyard is hiding in the toilet he refused to come out during the search. As the bus pulls away I can see DEA has the red gym bag open and about a pound of Pot is in it all wrapped in ounces ready to sell. Two minutes later they pull De Dawg over again and come back on and the fool that was hiding in the toilet walks to the front and just puts out his hands to be cuffed. The DEA agents were pretty boisterous in letting everybody know the long haired freaky guy had his drivers license in the red gym bag! WTF haha

    1. als

      How do you know want a pound of weed looks like? Did the DEA have scale? I suppose you could take an educated guess if you were able to count 16 individual packages.

  11. mks

    Considering that most people who would ride a bus cross country probably don’t have a pot to pee in you’re going to run across some individuals with “issues”……………..

      1. Ti-Raleigh

        Issues plenty. But if they had the means , they are probably not on a bus. Unless of course it is a leased rock and roll band on a coast to coast tour.
        And those issues are probaby more fun then the Greyhound issues….

  12. old and slow

    Three years ago I was in a position of trying to dissuade someone who had been across Russia on the Trans Siberian from taking the hound across Meth Country just to say that she had done it. I wish you had posted this one up back then!

    She was way too attractive to have attempted this any time after about 1977 or so, assuming that this nasty episode was from about 79-81 or thereabouts?

  13. James

    When my sis & I were kids (70’s), my mom would drop us off at the Greyhound station & we’d ride the bus across Nebraska. The driver would look out for us & drop us off at the grandparent’s in the middle of the night. We’d get unloaded with boxes of baby chicks stored in the luggage compartment. We saw some intersting people! If you shipped a 6 & 10 year old 800 miles via Greyhound today, someone would call child services!

  14. Mike

    So, as a mental health professional I can definitely confirm that the “get a ride out of town” still happens. ED doctors or others buy tickets or otherwise arrange transport to the “big city” for folks whom they can’t handle all the time today. It’s a classic and hasn’t stopped.
    Barb-thanks for speaking up. If the guy had been having a heart attack, he’d have everybody’s sympathy. Because he’s having a brain attack, lots of people think he’s a f-in loser who should be beat down. Sorry, they’re both health conditions that in that moment are beyond his control and deserve our help.

  15. nyroad

    Wow, blown away by the writing and story here. Totally sucked me in. Sparse style as usual but every detail captures the surrealism of the experience. I’m sure the same kind of stuff still happens today, but I felt like I was taken back in time.

  16. Dog

    That was a different time and different things were pretty much acceptable back then. A lot of mentaI health patients got beatdowns . I used to ride the Hound a fair amount in the 70s and you pretty much walked down the isle and picked out the bum that looked the least dangerous of the guys on the bus and sat down. Most folks had a bottle with them and a lot of them smelled really bad.
    My funny story was the bus stopped in the middle of no where and there was a car up ahead that had an engine fire. People yelled at the driver to pass the car and he replied he was waiting for the car to blow up. People started to boo, then in about 10 seconds there was a huge explosion and fireball, the guy then restarted the bus and drove on by. Nothing to see here just a car blowing up.


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