One of my most memorable bonding activities with my father was watching the remarkably sketchy and vaguely exploitive documentaries on the premium channels when I was a teenager. One of our favorites was American Pimp. In one scene, an impeccably dressed (duh) pimp explains that his primary recruiting ground is the local bus station because it is where he's most likely to find ladies that are new to town, vulnerable, and looking for work. When the voice off-screen asks why he doesn't use airports, the pimp replies incredulously, "HOS DON'T FLY!" For over a decade, I've avoided bus travel for this very reason. But no one loves America and fireworks and tri-cornered hats like I do...except for the entire population of the city of Boston. In the words of a wise Boston youth that my friend Phoebe was lucky to know, "Massachusetts got mad history dawg." And since in addition to America, I also love bargains, the bus seemed my best option for Independence Day. I made a terrible mistake.
First of all, people lose all sense of decency and sit on a floor crawling with SARS, H1N1, and that pig bat disease that killed Gwyneth in Contagion.
Secondly, I've never been locked up but I think these are standard issue jailhouse toilets. I wondered if this was just part of a grand tradition of bus stations trying to make you feel like you're forever on the verge of contracting hepatitis but the Boston station was home to no such fuckery.
I chose not to photograph more criminal elements of my adventure as I don't have a death wish.
With the exception of a brief stint across the street eating a janky-ass counterfeit cannoli and a burnt coffee, I was there for five and a half hours. They overbooked the 10pm bus and instead of putting us on the next one, they continued to load the 10:30, 11, 11:30, midnight, etc buses as scheduled and called a bus FROM BOSTON to come get our scraggly asses at 3:30am. We learned of their genius plan after midnight when it was too late to book alternatives.
During that time, my last shreds of hope for humanity dissolved. A list of experiences below.
- Propositioned for a date with a man clearly dedicated to the meth craft. I declined. -Straight up mistook for a prostitute. I blame bold lip color. I declined again. - Overheard a medical student who plans to be a pediatric oncologist ( so should be, I don't know, informed or observant?) ask what the ethnic make-up is of people in the United ARAB Emirates. - Witnessed a peasant revolt by the passengers, which required law enforcement intervention. - Got into a civilized war of words with a cop. Won the war of words. Silently judged the cop's angsty teen girl tattoo choices. Minus 1 for law enforcement. -Heard members of the class of 2011 discuss how hard it was "getting older." Wept for my country's future. - Alerted security that a homeless man with a gaping bleeding leg wound was screaming for help and could they get some. Was informed "He does this all the time." Does what all the time, BLEEDS FROM THE LEG? This isn't a thing people do for a long time cause there is a finite amount of blood in the body, hashtag science. Minus 2 for law enforcement. -Befriended some handsome Bermudans with great nail color. This was actually a highlight, island folks are so chill. - Died inside around 3:07am. -Being at that point without shame or conscience, took a selfie.
Now one of the best parts of being an ex-religionist is my lingering obsession with the existence and contents of Hell. Is it Saw franchise shit, brimming with gruesome and highly inventive torture? Is it the eternal escalator ride to nowhere? You can SEE Target and Buffalo Wild Wings but you can never hop off and go in. (I love you Atlantic Terminal, never change!) Is it eternity in a box, like those cunty French vampires threatened Brad Pitt with in Interview With A Vampire?
No friends. The entrance to Hell is just west of Times Square, two levels below ground, marked Gate 84. Travel wisely.