The Last Word

Issue #475

April 2014

Leave the driving to...well, someone else

On Saturday, March 15, I appeared in St. Louis for the national roadmeet, and I had a mighty fine time, yep (as the old cough drop commercial might or might not say). ut !reyhound nearly ("ee"#) ruined it. $irst, the %us someho& managed to %e a%out '5 minutes late arri(ing in St. Louis. ut no %other# I)d already %uilt a minor delay into my schedule *ust in case. +hat)s terrifying are the hopeless delays that afflicted the trip home. ,ust thin" ho& my meetup in St. Louis &ould ha(e %een utterly shot to hell if !reyhound had fuc"ed up the trip there to such a degree. -arly Sunday morning.after the flatulence/filled meet.I %ipped do&n to the !reyhound station in St. Louis to catch the %us home. I got there early, *ust li"e my %us tic"et commanded me to do. I couldn)t find a drin"ing fountain any&here at this terminal. 0pparently this &as a gimmic" to force parched customers to spend 1' on %ottled &ater. I &aited patiently in line for the %us, as infomercials %lared on the 23. It seems li"e e(ery%ody has had an elderly relati(e &ho regularly had the (olume on their 23 unusually loud to compensate for hearing loss. +ell, the o(erhead 23 sets at the St. Louis %us station &ere louder.%y far. 0ll %lasting the same insuffera%le, repetiti(e infomercials. It &as there that I first started to %e confronted &ith the serious delays. 2here had %een no &eather delays, so it)s un"no&n &hat the cause of the delays

&as. In fact, the %us that &as supposed to ta"e us to Indianapolis &as already idling at the platform &hen I got to the station.&ell ahead of schedule. !reyhound rolled out another %us for the e4cess passengers and let it idle too. 0fter idling for an eternity, %oth %uses &ere ' hours late lea(ing. For no apparent reason. 5assengers &ere furious. +hen &e got on the %us, &e found the %us &as (ery cold. 2he %ismuth continued to drop as the %us 6ipped out of to&n. +hen &e got a%out '7 miles outside St. Louis, the dri(er pulled o(er on Interstate 87, got out to e4amine the heater, then told us &e had to go %ac" to St. Louis to get a different %us %ecause the heat &as %ro"en. 9ou read that right: !reyhound tried using a %us &ith a %ro"en heater &ithout telling the dri(er or the passengers it &as %ro" no%ody "ne& it &as %ro"en until the %us &as miles out of to&n. 2hat s;uandered another <7 minutes. 0fter &e got %ac" to the St. Louis %us terminal, &e spent yet another half/hour &aiting for the replacement %us.e(en though it &as sitting there the &hole time. y that time, I &as too animated to sleep. Most of the other passengers felt the same &ay. 2hey cussed up a storm in reaction to this series of postponements. Learned a fe& ne& s&ear &ords myself, I did. ut the delays &eren)t done yet# I &as supposed to ha(e a 57/minute layo(er in Indianapolis %efore continuing to =incinnati. ecause &e got to Indianapolis > hours late, my layo(er &as completely eaten there should ha(e %een no additional delay there &hatsoe(er. Lo and %ehold, there &as another half/hour &ait in Indianapolis. ?o& here)s the most ine4plica%le part. 0fter the %us to =incinnati got mo(ing, the dri(er told us &e &ere %eing rerouted through @ayton, Ohio. Why?!?!?! 2he dri(er said the %us is rerouted through @ayton AB times out of 17C &hen there)s a delay. 9ou mean !reyhound has une4plained delays li"e this a lot? 0 chorus of groans emerged from the riders. If I)d "no&n %efore %oarding the %us that &e)d %e rerouted through @ayton, I &ould ha(e found a more efficient &ay to get home from"e hopping a freight train or finding a 177/mile/long trail of dog/doo that &as fresh enough to slide do&nhill on &ith minimal effort. ut for some reason, !reyhound "ept this rerouting a secret until it &as too late. 0t this point, it &as clear !reyhound couldn)t %e trusted to %e e(en remotely reasona%le. 0nd it got even worse! +hen &e got to @ayton, the dri(er let us off &ithout saying a &ord, and the %us dro(e on. 0 computer screen inside the %us station there said it &ould %e another 4 hours %efore the %us to =incinnati left# I ga(e up. I no& had no faith &hatsoe(er that !reyhound &ould get me home at any time during the 11> th =ongress. So I called a family mem%er &ho li(es north of =incinnati to pic" me up in @ayton and dri(e me home. 0 young couple &ho had %een on this ill/fated series of %us routes at least since St. Louis &as so frustrated that they did the e4act same thing. ?o& it &as o%(ious ho& !reyhound decided to deal &ith the earlier delays on this trip. Instead of ha(ing a %us ready to try to &his" us right onto the proper schedule in Indianapolis, the su%se;uent routes &ere instead flushed do&n the memory hole, as !reyhound *ust %umped us to the ne4t scheduled trip.&hich &as hours after the trip &e &ere supposed to %e on. So didn)t the !reyhound peeps in Indianapolis find it strange that the %us from St. Louis hadn)t arri(ed yet &hen the %us to =incinnati.that &e &ere supposed to %e on.leftD Easn)t !reyhound e(er heard of coordinationD 2his is '71<, so you)d thin" a dri(er of a late %us &ould %e a%le to call ahead to the station. I)m not saying !reyhound had to also delay people &ho &ere *ust starting their trip in Indy. %ut after %otching the trip from St. Louis, didn)t !reyhound ha(e a responsi%ility to ma"e sure they had a %us ready for its paying customers from that trip, e(en if it meant they had to %ring out an e4tra %usD $urthermore, I don)t thin" anyone on this trip had intended to go to @ayton. I don)t thin" &e e(en pic"ed up any ne& passengers in anyone &ho &as starting their trip there &as on a different %us any&ay. I no& refer to !reyhound as the Supertramp -4press.%ecause they ma"e us ta"e the long &ay home. 0ll told, I &as F hours and < minutes late in getting %ac" to =incinnati. It &ould ha(e %een at least B hours if I hadn)t gi(en up in @ayton.and pro%a%ly a lot more, considering ho& unrelia%le !reyhound &as that day.

If I &as late getting to the St. Louis terminal after the roadmeet %ecause of my o&n da&dling, I &ould)(e *ust cut my losses and accepted %eing B hours late getting home. Li"e a natural man. ut nope. 2he delay in St. Louis &as the fault of !reyhound.entirely. In my day, &e had a thing called responsibility. !reyhound sho&ed none. 0fter this e4perience, I hadn)t planned on using !reyhound e(er again. ut I complained on their $ace%oo" page a%out this a%surd series of delays, and !reyhound mailed me a (oucher e;ual to the (alue of the trip home. 2his)ll %e enough to almost completely co(er a round trip to a near%y city. ut no& I "no& %etter than to use it to try to get to an e(ent that)s scheduled for a fixed time, %ecause the %us &ill pro%a%ly %e late and force me to miss it. I)d used !reyhound a couple times %efore, and I never had any noticea%le delays until the St. Louis outing. I guess the olden days are gone. What to do for future trips? 2he 8/cent ;uestion is: +hat &ill I do for future tripsD 2here)s al&ays Mega%us or 0mtra", %ut &hat if I &ant to go to a city ser(ed only %y !reyhound, in all its monopolistic assfiferyD Most li"ely, I)d *ust stay home. ut &hat if I a%solutely, positi(ely have to go on that trip, or elseD I &ouldn)t ha(e confidence of arri(ing on time unless I %uild a delay into my schedule of at least a fe& hours. I plan to de(ise a formula to decide ho& long the delay should %e %ased on the length of the trip. I)m thin"ing a 1G/to/1 ratio. 2hat is, unless I can %e reasona%ly sure that !reyhound has turned o(er a ne& leaf. (2hat e4pression doesn)t mean that !reyhound)s %oard of directors goes out and finds a leaf on the ground under a tree and flips it o(er. It means to mend one)s &ays.)


re!hound trou"les#

2he story of !reyhound delaying me on the &ay home from the St. Louis roadmeet is no& etched in Hoads Scholaring lore.fore(er and e(er amen. ut in recent &ee"s, other fol"s ha(e had similar &oes &ith the Supertramp -4press. ,ust days after my disastrous %us trip, I read that a %us departing from =harlotte &as delayed %y 8 hours for no apparent reason. 0 %us going across upstate ?e& 9or" &as delayed < hours. 2he ? = affiliate in +ashington, @.=., reported that a %us tra(eling from ?e& 9or" =ity to +ashington stranded all its passengers for I hours at a rest area in @ela&are. (=onsidering the restroom on one of the %uses I rode last month stun" up the &hole %us, it &as pro%a%ly hard to tell the difference.) 0 23 station in 3ermont reported that a !reyhound tra(eling from oston to Montreal left riders stranded for I hours in the middle of the route. 2hen, after the %us continued to its stop at urlington)s main airport, there &as no dri(er there to continue the trip from there. 2his additional delay made fol"s 1' hours late getting to Montreal. One student missed an important e4am %ecause of these une4plained delays. 0 %us that had %een scheduled for a stop in 0la%ama didn)t sho& up there, period. 2he ne4t %us &asn)t scheduled to arri(e for < hours.and it &as o(er an hour late. 0nother %us &as o(er < hours late lea(ing Little Hoc", causing riders to get to Memphis late and miss the %us they &ere supposed to catch there. 2he ne4t %us &asn)t for another 5 hours. 2hese episodes &ere all &ithin the past fe& &ee"s, %ut !reyhound)s procli(ity for ine4plica%le delays has %een %urgeoning for a &hile no&. Last year, a !reyhound going from ?orth =arolina to ?e& 9or" stranded customers for one full day. On another %us route, a customer complained that another passenger (omited throughout the trip and said it &as %ecause he had s&allo&ed condoms filled &ith cocaine. +hen the %us stopped, the (omiter tried fishing the cocaine/filled condoms out of the toilet on the %us using a stic". !reyhound seemed un&illing to deal &ith the unsuffera%le odor. 2hen there)s the deli%erate o(er%oo"ing of routes. 0irlines do it too, and it ought to %e against the la&. In

1B8I, the go(ernment almost outla&ed airline o(er%oo"ing, %ut these days, they don)t dare consider it.for airlines or for %uses. It)s dri(en %y greed. !reyhound ought to "no& that o(er%oo"ing &ill result in passengers %eing %umped.and therefore delayed %y hours.%ecause ho& many people are going to spend all that money on a %us tic"et and then not e(en sho& upD It &as recently reported that o(er%oo"ing %y !reyhound delayed o(er <7 riders %y < hours on one route. +hat a%out &hen !reyhound legitimately has to cancel a route for something that isn)t actually !reyhound)s fault, li"e %ad &eatherD +ell, during the recent &inter.0merica)s &orst in decades.!reyhound did indeed ha(e to cancel routes. ut !reyhound continued selling tic"ets for these routes, e(en though they &ere canceled. $ol"s lost go%s of money paying for trips that !reyhound "ne& &ould ne(er ta"e place.and !reyhound refused to refund it. 5lus, &hen !reyhound stupidly ruined luggage that %elonged to a mem%er of 0merica)s armed forces and lost his uniforms and the rest of his clothing, !reyhound refused to issue full compensation and instead sent out *ust a (oucher that could %e spent on another !reyhound trip. 2he young man)s dad protested this %y posting a 9ou2u%e (ideo of the (oucher %eing urinated upon and flushed do&n the toilet... If you don)t understand &hy !reyhound is &rong, as" an adult.


+hat &ould an ish of The Last Wor %e &ithout a %iting unmas"ing of right/&ing class &arfareD Hecently there &as an effort to get Mega%us to add a stop in 5i"e(ille, Jentuc"y.the population center of a large, impo(erished area of 0ppalachia that has no intercity passenger transport to spea" of. ?one. Kero. (I)(e already chec"ed.) 0pparently, 5i"e(ille once had !reyhound and 2rail&ays, %ut that &as &hen &e still had a &orld. 2his campaign sat poorly &ith the $ar Hight. Instead of applauding it as a %oost to the local economy, the Hepu%lican noise machine &ent on the attac". In one Internet forum, a naysayer complained: $Lets go ahead and give the low in%ome &entitlement generation' (ree ever!thing. Ma!"e we %ould move in their own personal )*+,I- slave.. 2hey)re saying that e4tending ser(ice to a poor area is gi(ing people something for freeD Last I chec"ed, Mega%us is a %usiness, and %usinesses don)t gi(e out anything for free. 2hey)re businesses, dammit# 2he ApersonC &ho posted the a%o(e rant didn)t e(en li(e any&here near 5i"e(ille# 9ep, life is really tough for the rich, isn)t itD 0ccording to the 1L, all capital impro(ements and all pu%lic or pri(ate ser(ices should ser(e only rich communities. If it ser(es a poor area, it)s a Ahandout.C @on)t crac" up. end your %rain.

)hen /elta ruined a va%ation
Jee"# Huin# Let me repeat that. Jee"# Huin# Let me repeat that again.complete &ith the standard gesture and funny (oice.since it has such a nice ring to it. Jee"# Huin# I)(e ne(er %een on a commercial flight, and gi(en the airline industry)s sorryass trac" record, I don)t e(er intend on it. It)s not *ust %ecause of the high incidence of crashes. It)s not *ust the unchec"ed cost (&hich is too high for &or"ing/class guys li"e me). It)s not *ust %ecause of airlines using dirty air filters on their planes that ma"e it a near/certainty that you)ll catch &hate(er contagious illnesses ha(e %efallen anyone else on the plane at any time in the past > &ee"s. It)s not *ust %ecause the ?o $ly List includes almost e(eryone &ho isn)t to the right of Mi"e Euc"a%ee. It)s also %ecause of the &ay @elta 0irlines decimated a couple)s (acation se(eral years ago. @elta has a near/monopoly at =incinnati)s main airport. 2he federal or state go(ernment could %rea" this monopoly if they chose. -(en the airport %oard could, e4cept that this %oard is dominated %y 2ea 5arty follo&ers, and is no& in(ol(ed in a ma*or scandal (li"e e(erything else dominated %y the 2ea 5arty). In '77B, a gentleman posted on a %log a%out ho& he and his &ife fle& from irmingham, 0la%ama, to ?e& 9or" =ity for (acation. 2hey too" @elta.and the result &as that they got to ?e& 9or" 1> hours late. $irst, @elta mo(ed the time of the flight ahead %y se(eral hours &ithout e(en telling them. 2he couple still got to the irmingham airport in time. ut that didn)t matter, %ecause @elta didn)t e(en ha(e a plane ready any&ay and had to fly one all the &ay do&n from =incinnati. 0fter they %oarded that plane and &aited on the tarmac for hours, they and all the other passengers &ere then forced to get off and %oard a different plane %ecause the first plane &as so ric"ety. 2he second plane also had a malfunction.&hich s;uandered more of customers) (alua%le time. 0t the time the couple &as originally scheduled to arri(e in ?e& 9or", they &ere still stuc" in irmingham# Eours later, the flight &as canceled altogether. So they &ere forced to fly on a different airline. via Houston! @o you ha(e any idea ho& far out of the &ay that isD $lying (ia Eouston is %ac"trac"ing hundreds of an almost perfectly %ac"&ards direction, no less# ut guess &hatD y that time, @elta had managed to find a flight for the couple)s luggage and had already sent it to ?e& 9or". 9es, they found a flight for luggage, %ut not the passengers to go &ith it. 2he man &rote that the first day of his hard/earned (acation &as A177L ruined.C 0lso, the couple had tic"ets to see the Hoc"ettes in ?e& 9or" that night, and they missed the sho&. 2he man &rote a letter to @elta demanding compensation for (among other things) Amy &asted Hoc"ettes tic"ets.C 0ll told, @elta)s serial mista"ery cost the couple o(er 11,777 e4tra. 9ou can easily picture a man &aiting at the gate or on a grounded plane for hours on end, &atching the cloc", and lamenting each scheduled e(ent on his trip that he missed, one %y one. A+ell, there goes the Hoc"ettes,C &e see him saying. +e)(e all had e4periences li"e that. caused %y someone else)s incompetence. Some%ody else responded to the %log post saying that they also fle& @elta, and the airline &as >> hours late in %ringing their luggage .and their %rand ne& suitcase &as Acompletely destroyed.C 9ou can find the %log post

a%out this @elta/induced day from hell here... http://www.!jer"#$a".com/my-%etter-to- e%ta-a#r%#"es-ru#"e -vacat#o" One more thing that the %log doesn)t e4pound on much: ?otice that &hen the flight &as first rescheduled, @elta &as actually com%ining ' flights into one. In doing so, the earlier flight &as to %e delayed %y ' hours.not counting the additional idiotic delays that culminated in outright cancellation. 0nother demerit against @elta.

)ould !ou li0e some wine with that whine1
0merica)s system of passenger transport is thoroughly shattered.%ut you &ouldn)t %elie(e some of the things people complain a%out. Hecently, I read that 0mtra".in order to cut costs.&ill stop offering free &ine to passengers on its trains. 0mtra" ga(e you free &ineD It)s too %ad !reyhound doesn)t, %ecause then may%e I &ould ha(e %een too sloshed to care a%out ho& %adly they %ungled my trip home from St. Louis. ut seriously. It is a (erifia%le fact that I ha(e im%i%ed %eer, &his"ey, and champagne %efore. 2here are &itnesses to these spectacular underta"ings. I har%or no prudish o%*ections to consumption of alcohol %y responsi%le persons &ho ha(e attained the age of ma*ority. ut shouldn)t 0mtra" %e spending its resources on adding ne& routes instead of dishing out &ine for freeD Hemem%er, 0mtra" is ta4payer/supported.and as a ta4payer, ne& routes are one of the things I)d most li"e to see my hard/earned dough spent on. Some say the story a%out 0mtra" offering complimentary &ine &as plain old yello& *ournalism. ut apparently, it &as real, %ecause 0mtra" later announced that the free li%ations &ill cease. 0mtra" &ill also stop gi(ing passengers pillo& chocolates and putting flo&ers and (ases on dining car ta%les. Seriously, 0mtra" really did ha(e these things. I)d %e satisfied &ith these changes, %ecause my main reason for using a mass transit ser(ice &ould %e to get from one place to another.not to drin" myself silly. ut other fol"s are outraged. 2hey)(e threatened to stop using 0mtra" %ecause they don)t get their &ine anymore. +aaah# !reyhound has faced similar complaints %ecause of the lac" of &i/fi on some of its %uses. @o you really thin" &i/fi is a %ig priority for me &hen I)m on a %usD I)d %e more &orried a%out the Supertramp -4press getting me to my destination less than a &ee" late. I suffered &ith Koomto&n)s shitty ser(ice for F years, so I can at least go the length of a !reyhound route &ithout &i/fi. Or any "ind of fi. -(en fi out of fi. On the other hand, 0mtra" seems to %e eliminating &ine only to silence some politicians &ho &anted to eliminate even more. +hen the story %ro"e that 0mtra" &as losing money on free &ine, the right/&ing media hi*ac"ed the narrati(e and said the real reason 0mtra" &as losing money &as that it &as paying employees too much. I call horseshit on that. 0ccording to the pundits, it)s al&ays %ecause the BBL is %eing paid too much, isn)t itD ?e(er the 1L. So get ready for another round of class &arfare, courtesy of the congressional !O5#

Airline deregulation still a (ailure a(ter all these !ears
9ou "no& &hat)s great a%out the fact that the Heagan regime almost completely deregulated the airline industryD 9eah, me neither. 2he Supreme =ourt has *ust ruled that airlines ha(e the ArightC to re(o"e fre;uent flyer re&ards from customers if they complain too much a%out the airline)s atrocious ser(ice. 0 Minnesota ra%%i sued @elta %ecause ?orth&est 0irlines.&hich @elta no& o&ns (after the go(ernment predicta%ly ru%%er/stamped the airlines) merger).too" a&ay his fre;uent flyer pri(ileges after he filed too many complaints. 2he ra%%i flies 85 times a year for lectures, and ?orth&est)s ser(ice &as so %ad that he complained '< times in only I months. 0t that rate, ?orth&est %otched almost half of his flights. ut the Supremes ruled that airlines ha(e the po&er to ta"e a&ay your re&ards that you)(e earned. +hyD ecause AderegulationC prohi%its la&suits li"e the one filed against @elta. I guess deregulation is one of fe& &ords in the -nglish language that defies its o&n meaning. If

AderegulationC truly deregulated things, &hy &ould it ma"e it tougher for people to sue a corporationD 2his is really *ust another case of Aderegulation for me, not for theeC.a hallmar" of the $ar Hight. 2hese days, corporations are accorded more rights than people are. If a federal la& says you can)t sue an airline for stealing your flyer re&ards.and the croo"ed =ongress &on)t change the la&.then the states should pass la&s saying you can sue.

2hantom 2ooper %omes to 3psilanti1
9ou or I may ha(e a hard time getting around this fine land %ecause of the pratfalls of our transportation net&or". ut the 5hantom 5ooper.&hoe(er this person may %e.seems to glo%etrot at &ill# 2he latest incident comes to us from 9psilanti, Michigan (%oyhood home of Iggy 5op). O(er the past F months, someone has %een defecating on the slides at a pu%lic playground in that city. Local officials ha(e no& ta"en notice and are ma"ing efforts to stop this soilage. 0 city councilman and former mayor declared, A?o& that the &eather is getting &armer, &e need to get a handle on it.C It)s al&ays amusing &hen a politician tal"s a%out %o&el mo(ements. A?o one &ants to play in other people)s feces,C he told a @etroit ne&spaper. 2he police chief sent out an e/mail a%out the stin"y situation. A+e ha(e a pro%lem in 5rospect 5ar" &ith a miscreant that does not understand the difference %et&een a children)s playground slide and a toilet,C the top cop said in the e/mail. A0pparently this e4tremely misguided indi(idual feels the need to defecate on the slide despite the cold &eather.C rings a &hole ne& meaning to Apooing is cool.C

4he right tra%0 to sa(et! (ilm (un#
Hemem%er those unintentionally comical films on safety they used to sho& in schoolD 2hey had these films for everything. 0nd "ids *ust laughed at them. 2here &as a generation gap that "ept adults from presenting safety information in a &ay "ids could dig. 2here &ere ;uite a fe& dealing &ith ho& to act safely around trains and railroads. Eere)s an entertaining film from 1BF8 titled The Right Track...'()!*j*v+ In case you can)t (ie& it, that ne&sreel features se(eral children doing a (ariety of %oneheaded the (icinity of railroads, and else&here. 2hey)re li"e a later (ersion of The Little Rascals, e4cept their actions ha(e (ery real conse;uences. 2hey sho(e a garden hose up a gutter. 2hey thro& roc"s at trains and put a conductor)s eye out. 2hey try using the rails on a railroad %ridge as a %alance %eam. 2hey almost sa& off a tree %ranch they)re sitting on and land on a dog. ?othing funny at all a%out people and dogs %eing seriously in*ured. I had dogs gro&ing up. 0s for the part a%out children thro&ing roc"s at trains, I used to &or" for the @epartment of the Interior, and I &ouldn)t &ant to %e hit %y roc"s hurled %y unruly imps. More importantly, life e4periences ha(e instilled in me a deep respect for people &ho &or" in occupations in(ol(ing transport. ut lots of "ids seemed to find great

interest in the misfortunes suffered %y innocent parties in films li"e this, %ecause they felt li"e they &ere %eing lectured %y an out/of/touch gro&nup.&ho couldn)t punish them if they diso%eyed, %ecause they &ere *ust a (oice in a mo(ie. It didn)t help that this film pro%a%ly seemed dated e(en &hen it &as ne&. +hy did they still use a %ig %and music %ed in 1BF8D +hy not the @oors insteadD ut at least that film uses the Electric Company font.
=opyright M '71<. 0ll rights reser(ed.