Though your Megabus fate is ultimately determined by the quality and smell of the amenities on your particular bus, the people have a lot to do with how pleasant your ride is. There are many ways in which you may end up interacting with human beings while you’re on your Mega-journey.
The following run-down of people and situations you may encounter are all based off real Megabus experiences. I am absolutely sure that this is just a small sampling of all the absurdity, so maybe in another year I will have some new tidbits to add. But, for now, buckle your seatbelts and get ready to go on a wild ride through Megabus knowledge. I can’t promise that will be the last bus pun.
People and Places
The type of people you encounter is often dependent on where you are traveling. If you’re going somewhere like D.C. you can throw all ideas about your fellow passengers out the window. The bus ends up at Union Station and people can go anywhere from there. There is no standard when you’re traveling to a place like that. If you’re traveling between SEC schools (or any other college towns for that matter), you should probably make sure you can hear everyone in your vicinity. This is solely for entertainment value. I have never gone on a Megabus between two college towns without hearing a story about one or all of the following: an alcohol or drug related arrest, a sexual escapade, an explanation of all the things someone’s parents are about to do for him when he gets home (laundry, home cooked meals, etc.), an embarrassing hookup, some kind of fight related to a relationshit, and (one I can relate to) a description of a mysterious bruise that appeared after a night out.
If you have a face like mine—friendly, happy, approachable, etc.—you should be wary of the people on your bus who look like they have a million questions about the city they’re heading to. One time, I was on the bus with a gentleman from Texas who was talking with his wife about all the places he and his buddies were going to see in Atlanta. He was talking very loudly, so naturally I was listening to every word he said. He mentioned that he was going to ride MARTA for the first time and he didn’t know how it worked. When he hung up, I showed him my MARTA app and helped him figure out his route. He was so grateful that instead of saying “Thank you, kind, beautiful lady,” he asked me 100 more questions—most of which I didn’t know the answer to. Toward the end of his hailstorm of questions, he asked me if I had ever tried some burger place. I said, “I’m a vegetarian” and I think he was so offended that he stopped talking to me. This was when I was still a novice Megabus rider. I was so used to helping strangers because of my job and my general appearance as a nice, friendly person, so I just continued that trend on the bus. I hadn’t yet learned the art of ignoring people so that I could do more productive things like nap and look out the window.
The Poor Time Managers
This one comes up in many different fashions. The first type of person you may encounter who is visibly bad at time management is the person who rolls on up to the bus stop whenever she feels like it. Because of my horrible traveler’s anxiety, I show up at the bus stop anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour early. So when I’m on the bus ready for it to pull away on time and someone comes up 3 minutes after the scheduled departure, I actually hate her. The bus drivers do too. Some drivers will roll their eyes and check the reservation number somewhat quickly. Some drivers will argue with the late passenger for up to five minutes (wasting more of everyone’s time) before finally allowing the person to board. I enjoy this because I would do the same thing. They need to know that they are not more important than any other passenger. I don’t care if you were saying goodbye to a boyfriend or if you hit traffic. Not my problem.
Another issue with time management inevitably occurs when the bus pulls over for a standard half hour break. The bus normally pulls off onto the sketchiest highway exits with the least options for (healthy) food. This immediately irritates everyone on the bus and we all moan and groan while we stand in line for Taco Bell or McDonald’s. The bus driver gives an exact time for everyone to be back on the bus. They then notify the entre bus that if anyone is not on the bus at the specified time, he or she will be left at a rand-o truck stop. But, of course, passengers ignore this declaration and do whatever the fuck they want. And by some miracle, on every trip I’ve been on, all the passengers made it back on the bus and carried on with the journey. Every trip except for one.
Once upon a time in The Middle of Nowhere, Virginia, we stopped at a Love’s to get some food. Our bus driver yelled at us to be back on the bus by 3:10pm. I had an action plan for the most efficient rest stop shopping ever done. I used the non-urine-doused toilets, got a sandwich from Subway (Eat Fresh!), bought a bag of chips and some Tums (so sexy), and made it back on the bus in about 15 minutes. I regretted not buying an American Flag mug or checking out the DVD selection, but I was pretty satisfied overall. That, my friends, is time management. By the time I was done eating my sandwich at my seat, the bus pulled away. The bus driver seemed to be speeding through the parking lot and when I looked out the window I saw why. She was trying to prove a point to a woman chasing the bus down. The driver totally committed to teaching this poor woman a lesson though. We left her butt at the Love’s, never to return again… until 3:30pm the next day. It turned out that we left four people at the Love’s. It was incredibly sad, but it really was their faults. The other passengers took care of the stranded passengers’ belongings and we went on our merry way without giving much thought to the incident. The good news is that I noticed the Love’s sold watches, so these people have the opportunity to become better at time management in the future.
The People Who Pretend Megabus is a Party Bus
Sometimes you’re lucky enough to be on the bus with a bunch of college kids trying to use the Megabus to rage, rage, rage. I’m not saying this isn’t a great idea, because it’s pretty awesome. I’m not too bothered by it because I live in a college town anyway and the smell of beer makes me feel all warm and fuzzy. If you want to avoid the party passengers, look for some of these queues that identify someone who is about to bust out some booze on the bus:
- Anyone who is wearing beads when it’s not Fat Tuesday
- Someone carrying a backpack that is suspiciously square-shaped
- Anyone who looks like he or she just turned 21
- Someone wearing a sports jersey of some kind
- A group of 20-somethings who already look drunk and are laughing way too hard at the cartoon Megabus Man on the side of the bus
- People who identify the location of bathroom before they do anything else and then proclaim that they “might have to bring the party in there” if the ride is too bumpy
- A person who packed his or her belongings in a laundry bag
- Someone carrying a sketchy unmarked bottled of whiskey-colored liquid
- Anyone who even remotely resembles Ke$ha (pre-rehab)
- Someone wearing clothes that are appropriate to “go out” in immediately upon arrival in the next city
Oh, the drivers. This group of people probably deserves its own blog post. The bus drivers are the most random and unpredictable group of humans on the planet. They range from sweet old men who never miss a beat with the bus schedules to ex-truck drivers who wear cut-off button-down shirts. The first bus driver I ever had was Miss Angel. To this day, she is still the driver with the most rules for her passengers. Considering we were only on the bus for two hours, she had quite the list of demands for us. These are the rules I can remember:
- If you sprinkle while you tinkle… you know the rest.
- If you want to talk to your friends or family on the phone, make sure you’re as quiet as a mouse.
- The trash bags are placed around the bus for a reason. Use them.
- If you have a problem with the Wi-Fi, call Meagbus (she provided the number I think).
- If you don’t like my music, put on headphones (Miss Angel was blasting Mariah Carey so loudly we actually had to petition for her to turn it down).
The rules are always different and every driver has his or her creative ways to keep the bus clean and pleasant. I guess the best advice I could give you for successful interactions with the bus driver is the golden rule—treat them as you would like to be treated. When you’re at a rest stop, ask them how their day is going. When they hand you your bag, say thank you. When they tell you to get back on the bus at 3:30pm, get the Hell back on the bus. Overall, the less you interact with them, the more they will like you. They don’t have jobs as bus drivers to be everyone’s best friend. They just want to sit back, drive a double-decker bus for ten hours, and ignore all their passengers’ requests and questions.
The Creative Napper
There are so many ways you can contort your body on a Megabus. Depending on what napping supplies you bring along, you can sleep better on the bus than you do in your own bed. I have creepily observed many of my fellow passengers while they nap, and I have come up with a set of unspoken napping rules that a lot of veteran Megabus nappers use to have a successful and comfortable napping experience:
- Don’t use a neck pillow. It makes you look like a douche bag. Roll up your clothing and make it work.
- If you’re a drooler, make sure you have a mechanism for catching your drool so your Seat Buddy doesn’t get an unexpected bath.
- It’s okay to fall asleep on your Seat Buddy without their consent because they probably wanted to snuggle anyway.
- Put some headphones on while you’re napping so you don’t get pissed when someone wakes you up by speaking way too loudly on the phone.
- Turn your phone on silent so that if you’re completely passed out no one has to listen to your Katy Perry ringtone repeatedly.
- If you fall asleep with any body part in the aisle expect to be abruptly woken up by someone aggressively moving you out of his or her way.
- If you are a heavy sleeper and there’s a possibility you will sleep through your stop, don’t nap.
- The same rule applies to sleep farters. Just don’t nap.
- Be completely comfortable with a stranger taking a photo of your double/triple chin if you fall asleep in chinstagram position.
- Make sure none of your body parts are going to pop out if you fall asleep. I have seen many-a-butt or gut because wardrobe malfunctions occur mid-nap
The Smelly Folk
I won’t spend too much time discussing this because smelly people are not just a Megabus problem and I’m positive that you have been around a smelly person. Just be aware that on the Megabus you are trapped in the same space as these smellvins and you may even have a smelly Seat Buddy. Prepare yourself to withstand smells you never thought you could handle.
Smelly people come in many forms. There are the people who come onto the bus already smelling like something—weed, alcohol from last night, too much perfume or cologne, whatever they ate for breakfast, armpit, the list goes on. Sometimes the bus just smells like an odd combination of all those things before you even board. Then, when you step onto the bus, you’re slapped across the face with the intense smells of all the people who have been riding the bus for up to ten hours. Don’t be surprised… just go with it.
Then there are the smelly people who become smelly due to a poor decision. These decisions normally revolve around food. For example, anyone who is about to hop on a Megabus should not eat Mexican food, Waffle House, or Taco Bell within 12 – 24 hours of stepping on the bus. I’m not saying I haven’t done this before. But, as a courtesy to those around me, I take Tums and Pepto along for the ride. The final note I will make about Megabus Smelliness is about snack choices. I thought it was common sense to choose neutral, non-smelly food for 13-hour bus rides. It’s not. People eat whatever they want. Even if whatever they want is Salmon Beef Jerky or Funyuns (this actually happened and it was the same person eating both).
I hope all that illustrates what it’s like to travel on the glorious and always-interesting Megabus. As always, if you feel like I missed a detail you’d like to know more about, drop a line in a comment below. I would be happy to share more stories or describe the smells in more detail. My next Mega-post will be about the unsung heroes of the Megabus. You know who you are.