Sunday, Aug 22-23rd, 2009
I am writing this for anyone who, like I was, is wondering what it may be like to ride a Greyhound Bus to Truck Driving School. My first piece of advice would be to try to spend that last time that you have together relaxing and enjoying it.
Preparing for the bus ride was an ordeal (get as much info as you can first, from their website and your departure terminal). We stressed out over every detail, especially the packing. The bus ride turned into a 2-day marathon, beginning at 9:00 Saturday morning when our daughter and I dropped him off.
First of all, the recruiter had given us much misinformation because she was probably a bit overwhelmed and disorganized from being assigned too many students. She told Randy it would be a 19-hour trip. It actually turned out to be 32+ hours! And I've heard of even longer ones. Yikes! Good thing I packed plenty of snacks/drinks, reading material, and a change of clothes in his carry-on bag.
On the plus side, there was lots of pretty scenery and he met some nice people. And, since Randy is open-minded and generally good-natured, he found the entire experience very interesting. But it did have it's drawbacks. As I read online, many of the terminal employees were indeed cranky and not very helpful.
And, as I suspected (from my research), he ran into many sketchy characters, including some who were communicating with their parole officers/bail bondsmen. And there was a mental patient who caused quite a commotion, but he was gone after 4 hours. When they stopped at a bar for a bathroom break, Randy was in the restroom when a fight broke out, but a bouncer dragged the troublemakers away. Besides the regular stops and transfers, they were stopping nearly every hour to let people off to smoke and stuff. It is not a relaxing way to travel for sure, and Randy was only able to grab 2 hours of sleep the whole time. We were both surprised that, when he called me at 1 am from Billings, Montana, the bus terminal there was crowded and chaotic. He barely made it onto the bus, and some did not.
He said the only thing that really rattled him was a bus driver who was all over the road (at night, in the mountains of Montana), and sometimes off on the shoulder. He said she often only had one hand on the wheel while she did other things, didn't seem to have control of the bus, and she was all spazzy and shaky and looked like she had Parkinson's disease. I have NEVER (in 29 years) heard him complain about anyone he was riding with, but he said he was ready to jump up and grab the wheel (if she let go altogether) and he nearly had a panic attack!
Since they could have booked him a one-way flight for the same cost or less, it makes me wonder if that's the first test for students...to see if you can handle sleep deprivation, stressful travel situations, crazy and obnoxious people, etc.?
It was also very stressful for me. Besides the ordinary things to deal with from an already-too-complicated life, I spent the weekend on pins and needles until he arrived safely at his destination. I was able to text or talk to him, when there was a signal available. It didn't help that I spent probably two weeks before he left crying, in anticipation of my loss, even more so as the time for him to leave approached. And I didn't slow down much for the first several days.
I tried to keep busy to keep my mind off what was happening. I had family over, cleaned, organized, did household chores, paid bills, did research online, emailed people, went on Facebook, had phone conversations, cleaned up the hard drive on my computer. But it didn't work to distract me, it just wore me out.
If I could do anything differently, I would have taken time to take care of myself, just let myself feel the pain of having him gone that first weekend and said "no" to attending social events. But, instead, I pushed myself so hard that I even got in a blow-up argument with my daughter, and that NEVER happens.
So, my advice to anyone considering this would be to organize and prepare well, then try your best to relax. It's going to be tough no matter what though. And you might want to consider purchasing a plane ticket...it's not that expensive and would be easier for all involved.