One week I got sick and didn’t post. Then there was a celebration and I didn’t post. Next I had an entertaining bus ride followed by drama at my work, and I didn’t post. So as a form of apology/an extended excuse I present to you the story of how I got stuck in a Spokane Starbucks. Schadenfreude, enjoy it.
It all started with that celebration all three of us authors attended. Times were good and reunions were had. But at the end I needed to make my return trip home. Now, you may think that as a classy gentleman I only travel in the most convenient way possible, but planes are expensive, and bus tickets are cheap. So I had booked round-trip tickets through Grey Canine (that should keep them protected from identification, right?), and early Monday morning I arrived at the station in Portland. While I may have attended college in Portland for four years, that doesn’t mean I am the most familiar/comfortable with Trimet’s buses (I have nothing bad to say about them, so they get to keep their name). Because of this I accidentally arrived at the Grey bus station an hour earlier than intended. But that was alright as I am patient and being early makes sure you won’t miss out on any important info. And so I waited two hours to board my bus.
But that was not to happen. The bus did not board, and there was no announcement on the PA. So I went to the information/ticketing desk, and I was informed we would be leaving an hour and a half to two hours late. I inquired about my transfer in Spokane, and was told I would be fine. I trusted that statement as I had been on trips where buses waited for delayed buses before, so I went back to waiting with the assistance of the station’s free wi-fi. While I was typing away at my computer another man waiting struck up a conversation with me. He complimented my attire and asked me what I do for a living. Apparently he thought I was into fashion and may have been semi-important. To those who haven’t seen how I dress: I assure you that this was quite confusing to me, but a compliment is a compliment.
Two hours passed, and still we did not board. I again went to the desk with an inquiry. It turns out they were waiting on a driver. I am going to repeat that. The bus had no driver. The bus had no driver, and in two hours they had not found one. I was told the wait would be another two hours. I again inquired about my Spokane connection. Again I was told I would be fine. I doubted. “Are you sure? Are you telling me that my connection will be fine because I will actually just be riding this one bus the whole way, and it just happens to stop in Spokane? Is that why my connection will be fine this evening?” I wanted the desk agent to tell me the details. He shooed me along, assuring me I would be fine.
At this point I was hungry and didn’t want to dip into my road food, and with the knowledge of a two hour wait I exited the station and walked to the nearby restaurant attached to the train station. I needed both food and a drink. The restaurant was nice with a bar and relaxing jazz music. The waiter offered me a seat by the window and left so I could peruse both the food and drink menus. Now, I guess I did look classy that day (I guarantee you I did not) as three much older looking men than I were carded for their beer orders, but I was never questioned on my request for a chardonnay. Making sure to keep up my disguise as a classy gentleman I ordered the fanciest item on the menu. I ordered a burger.
Upon finishing my meal I exited and returned to the station to continue waiting. This time there was a driver, and we did board the bus, which was now four hours late. I popped a dose of dremamine to make sure I wouldn’t get sick, and got ready to pass out on the ride. Friends kept me company via text messages and I drowned out the noise of fellow riders with the sweet sounds of Deep Purple, Iron Butterfly, Ugress, and Zeebee. I am also a very conscientious bus rider, and I make sure to take two seats to myself. I am a good guy.
The ride was uneventful due to my noise cancellation, drifting in and out of sleep, and keeping my focus on my phone for messages. This focus was in part to keep myself entertained with multiple conversations, but also because I was having one especially important conversation. I did not know how long I would be in Spokane for, and from my internet explorations I had met someone who lived in Spokane and might be willing to hang out in order to protect me from death and boredom. Now you may be thinking that I am too trusting and naïve to just meet up with someone who I have never actually met or verified the existence of, and you would be right.
Anyway, the bus arrived in Spokane. Exiting I asked the driver if she knew anything about the transfer to Missoula. In response she wrote a note on my ticket saying that I missed my transfer and am to be given a free ticket on the next Missoula bus. She then told me that bus would be at 11:30. This meant I had three hours to kill until 11:30pm. My mystery contact said she would meet me a few blocks away, so I left the station to see if I would run into her and not get mugged. Somehow we managed to run into each other, and luckily for my naïve stupidity she was not a murderer. We then met up with a friend of hers to walk around a park and then chill out in a mall as it closed down. As 11pm arrived I made the move back to the station, and bid my new friends farewell… for now.
As it turns out there are no buses whatsoever that leave Spokane at 11:30pm. My entertainer had worried about this happening, and offered me a pillow on her floor if I could get there, so it was taxi time. After arriving at her place I got to meet even more people in the form of her dudefriend and multiple cats (who fell in love with my bags). We watched some X-Files and played a game that’s like Apples to Apples but with more sex, violence, and STIs. I then passed out on their floor and woke up UNMURDERED the next morning. Her dudefriend was then even nice enough to drive me to the bus station so I could catch the 11:30am bus. I say 11:30am because I determined the driver was just nebulous about the time, and perhaps she meant AM instead of PM. Turns out that wasn’t right either as the help desk informed me there were only ever buses to Missoula at 5am and 5pm. I was now stuck waiting for a 5pm bus.
And so I again lifted my baggage and wandered Spokane in search of wi-fi. I ended up finding a nearby Starbucks. The place was nearly empty as I entered, plopped down my bags, unloaded my monster of a laptop, and claimed my seat for the next six hours. This coffee shop was now the domain of an unshowered and bedraggled Caucasian Jesus. But I made sure to buy some food and drink so I wouldn’t be total mooch (and I didn’t want to end my travel rations before getting on the road again). My presence on Facebook confused those who weren’t receiving my phone-text updates (which killed my texting balance since I’m not on unlimited) all thought I was home and asked me how my trip was. I got to have fun telling them that it was still going.
This was also about the time I got into contact with my work to figure out my situation for the night. I would go into more detail, but work drama while I still work there does not belong on the internet. Instead I’ll mention how I had an interesting conversation with a man who had a stroke and could really only use half of his body. He was a nice dude with self-made business cards. Apparently he used to be a successful businessman, but his stroke ended that. I don’t know what he’s up to now, but he at least frequents the Starbucks which I claimed.
Eventually it was time to leave for the bus station. This time there was a bus and driver, so we left on time. In fact we even arrived in Missoula about a half an hour ahead of schedule, and I was able to arrive to work that night only forty-five minutes late. My journey was done, but I still had about seven hours before I could get to my bed and sleep. But I was in Missoula, and no longer trapped in Spokane.
That’s quite the adventure. I don’t envy you. Best of luck in your future travels.