Friday, May 16, 2008

Balzac & Bolt Bus

Well, I am on my way to NYC. Literally. I decided to use Bolt Bus, which has free wi-fi. It sounds great, though things are a little cramped, because the woman sitting next to me is spreading out with her newspaper, coffee and breakfast.

Still, this whole situation is a vast improvement on bus travel in the 70's. For starters, there is the new bus terminal at South Station. It is a world away from the old Greyhound station that used to be on St. James St. in Park Square. I remember traveling by bus, back up to see my family on holidays. It was run down and the only word that comes to mind is gray. Not literally, though I think the color scheme did run to gray. It heps hide the grime, or so seemed to be the feeling of those companies that did business out of that terminal. In fact, it only added to the cheerless dinginess of the place. The restrooms were pretty much what you would expect. While I had heard that at various points they were hotbeds of sexual activity, I never indulged, and would have a hard time being able to sustain the mood in such surroundings.

All this said, it did exert a certain urban energy. The new station for all it's cleanliness and comfort seems much more suburban. People somehow don't seem as seedy and desperate as they did at the old Greyhound station. Location may be part of it. The old bus station was in Park Square, which at the time was delightfully disreputable. Some stretches of that area one did not walk around at night, or rather not without being aware of ones surroundings. Shabby businesses and sleazy bars. All leveled to make way for upscale shops and the Four Seasons. any hookers that might still be working that area would be demanding far higher fees than in days of yore, and probably require reservations and references for their services.

The bus is a big improvement too. Free Wi-Fi! How cool is that? But once again, it's an entirely different clientele. More middle class. Less down and out, or simply poor or young and on a serious budget. I have had some interesting conversations in the past with fellow riders and on one occasion many years ago, sex in the back of the bus on a night bus from Vermont to Boston. Those days I expect are long gone. Not just for me, but for anyone riding the bus. I imagine that people pay more attention now, and the drivers, even on a boring route between White River Junction and Boston would not approve of blow jobs on the bus. Not that I think they did then. I just don't think they paid that much attention.

At any rate, I have my iPod. I have my book, Balzac's "The Black Sheep" and I can always nap, assuming that I am not further crammed into the far edge of my seat by newspaper girl.

Only 3 more hours to go and I'll be in NYC. I'm sure it will be interesting.