At stops, he would often stay on the bus, sitting alone. He didn’t read or listen to music. I noticed he didn’t sleep (I’d notice this because I don’t sleep on the bus). He simply sat upright in his window seat, seemingly content to absorb the passing landscape.
Finally, I approached him at one of the stops. We struck up a conversation and the first thing he said is: “I’m from Cleveland.” It was said in an almost apologetic tone, and I was expecting him to follow up with something about “the mistake by the lake.” He’s still, reluctantly, cheers for his Browns.
I learned he moved from Cleveland to Eugene with his family decades ago. His father was a successful businessman and Dale followed in his footsteps as an engineering consultant in the oil production industry. In fact, he was on his way to see a client in Fontana, California.
It was clear this wasn’t going to "down and out on the Hound" type of story. But I felt compelled to ask: “What brings you on a Greyhound Bus? You don’t seem like you’d be a bus rider.”
“I’ve never been on a bus,” he said. “I would normally fly to my meetings. I just wanted to see what it was like to go Greyhound.”
When I asked about the airlines he typically flies, he said: “Never commercial. I have my own Cessna P210 Silver Eagle.”
Now, I have to say here that I had had a long, sleepless night on the ride south out of Portland. So, I wasn't feeling terribly favorable about bus travel at that particular moment. Therefore, I could not process the concept of opting out of a private, one-hour plane trip in favor of a six-hour jaunt on a crowded bus.
Before I could say anything questioning the mental capacity of a person who would choose a bus over a private plane, Dale said: “This was better than I imagined. Yes, if I have to be somewhere in a pinch, I’ll fly. But if I can plan my meetings with enough lead time, I will take the bus more often. It’s a great way to think, relax and see the country.”
I'd give him "great way to think" and "see the country." But, at that moment, his use of the the word "relax" pushed me over the edge. "No," I said. "It's not relaxing. There is nothing about this that is remotely relaxing. Do I look freaking relaxed to you?"
He laughed, thinking I was joking, not realizing how close I was to attacking and beating him senseless with my re-boarding slip because he had the audacity to suggest that the bus was relaxing, a nice alternative to flying his private plane. We shook hands, I wished him luck and returned to my seat.
The two people in front of my seat were asleep, their seats in a full, downright and locked position, leaving me legroom that could be measured in centimeters. The coach baked as the Northern California sun poured through the west facing windows where I sat. I was certain this bus was air conditioned, but it didn't seem to be working in my section of the bus. I was hungry as this leg of the journey consisted of stops at outposts with little or no edible food. The hunger fueled my headache and contributed to what would become a case of motion sickness by the time I reached San Diego. All in all, I was feeling great!
As I contorted my body to squeeze into what remained of my seat, I glanced at Dale several rows ahead, taking in the scenery, enjoying his experiment aboard a Greyhound Bus. If he only knew!! Then, I closed my eyes and began "relaxing" for the 12 hours of bus travel ahead of me.