Episode 211- The Greyhound

So if you are listening, today is the day before the super bowl. I’ve got a story for you today. That’s a painful one to tell cause I’ve been to multiple Superbowls a few times as media and a few times as a fan, I was there in 2000 when the Ravens beat the giants as media. I was photographing the game the next year when the Patriots beat the Rams, Tom Brady’s first Superbowl and also won as a fan when the Steelers, when my Steelers beat the Arizona Cardinals for their six super bowl back in 2009 I believe, and two years later they made it back to the Superbowl. And by the way, there is no great lesson with this. This is an empty calories all story, no lesson episode. So I hope you’re not expecting much out of this except maybe a laugh at my expense, but the soup bowls in Dallas this year and I was like, I really got to go.

I can’t miss it. They could win their seventh Superbowl. I mean the best wife in the world. Elizabeth was onboard. She was like, okay, get the ticket. Go ahead. I understand now that you’ve got to do this thing, but tickets were crazy expensive for that game and I didn’t really feel like dropping five grand for one ticket. I’d already seen them win a Superbowl so I wasn’t as desperate as I was a couple of years earlier. But on the Thursday before the game as the snow fell in Pittsburgh, I got a phone call from my friend Andy O’Neill and she said call me back and she had managed to find one ticket for me at face value. There was a pretty good seat for 800 bucks. So I said, get it to me. It’s mine. I’ll buy it right now. What do you need? And I bought the ticket without thinking, how am I going to get to Dallas?

It was no big deal. I’ll get a flight, I’ll get a couple of nights. Hotel. All is good. I didn’t take into consideration that living in Pittsburgh and Pittsburgh being the soup bowl, there would be no tickets for a flight to Dallas left. Everything was sold out. And this is now late Thursday night, going into Friday morning, two days before the soup bowl. So I was like, I gotta drive and Elizabeth put her foot down. She was like, you are not driving 20 hours to Dallas to go to a game and then drive back. You’re going to be gone all week. You’re going to be exhausted. Please don’t drive to the game. So we started looking into Amtrak and the schedules didn’t line up. And I said the sentence that I will never say again, which was this, I’m taking the Greyhound and it all sounded fine. I’d get to the bus stop and downtown Pittsburgh would get me there to Dallas and Fort worth, late Saturday night, I’ll have time to go out and have a little dinner and more than enough time to get to the game and enjoy it on Sunday.

And I’ll come back on Monday and maybe I was excited or overambitious or I’m not sure what it was, but I saw absolutely no issues with anything that can go wrong in this situation. So I’d say goodbye to Elizabeth and the boys. And I took the train to downtown Pittsburgh and I waited at the grungy Greyhound station for my bus to take me to the Superbowl. I should’ve known right away when my first bus was delayed that there’d be a problem, but I didn’t. So about an hour late, the bus pulls out of Pittsburgh and we make our first stop in Columbus and we’re supposed to trade off bus drivers, but our bus driver didn’t show up. So we’re waiting for a driver to come to take over the bus and take us Dallas. Again, not feeling too bad about this, but getting a twinge of nerves like, is this really gonna happen?

And then finally, finally a bus driver showed up again, probably will be about an hour wait. And we hit the road towards Dallas. So by now we’re somewhere between Columbus and Indianapolis and we’re past midnight at this point. And I’m feeling a little jittery because the boss is shaking a little bit while we’re driving. And I look outside to find that we are being hit with a heavy snowstorm and the driver on [inaudible] is weaving in and out of the lanes to try to avoid some of the snow. And I try to keep optimistic, but it really felt like the bus is going to tip at some point. It’s the first time I started thinking about Elizabeth and the boys and I was like, why am I doing this? I was less excited about the game and more nervous about what was going on. So I was finally able to catch a little bit of sleep.

But when I woke up early in the morning, I noticed that we weren’t making nearly as good time as we’re supposed to be making. It’s quite apparent that I’m not going to get there Saturday evening to Dallas. So late in the morning. Now we’re going at half the speed and the crowd’s getting a little bit restless. And I don’t know if you’ve ever been on a Greyhound with a bunch of people for half a day in the winter during a storm, but people can start getting a little bit grumpy. So we had this one woman in the back that just wouldn’t stop talking. I mean there’s one guy next to him that couldn’t stand listening to her. So we get to listen to them battle back and forth, screaming and cursing at each other while a couple in the front of the bus starts. Also arguing and fighting with each other. And I just sat back and I looked to the couple next to me and we just shook our head and laughed sir, joking about the book that we could write about this event called the Greyhound and how all this crazy stuff is starting to happen.

It was right about this point that the bus in the middle of I [inaudible] comes to a complete stop. The weather and the snow had gotten so bad that they needed to stop the bus and this is when all hell broke loose. I tried to keep calm, but people were fighting. Now on the bus there was a fist fight that broke out and behind me, those two people kept arguing with each other and kept getting louder and louder. So we’re now stuck on [inaudible] for over two hours in a Greyhound that’s not moving. Then finally it cleared up and the bus driver goes to start the bus, only to realize that it won’t start. I guess once a bus is stranded on a road, there needs to be some type of code delivered into the bus to restart it. And he didn’t have the code being the replacement bus driver.

So we wait longer and I’ve got my cell phone and I’m starting to freak out and I’m calling Elizabeth and I’m like I’m not going to make this game and I can’t even get my ticket, cause my tickets at the hotel in Fort worth at this point. If I could just sell the ticket, I’d find a way just to get back home and be done with the whole thing. So with two kids on our arms at home, she’s scrambling to see what she can do for me cause I’ve got no laptop to use or anything like that. And it’s then that they announce that because of the poor weather greyhounds are shutting down and there’ll be no more trips that day. Meaning that this bus, hopefully he’s going to make it to st Louis and then we end there. So just imagine this grubby crowd, what was like before, now imagine what it’s like now.

So Elizabeth scrambling and she tells me you got one option, there’s a Greyhound leaving st Louis at 8:00 PM and old get you to Fort worth, Texas around 2:30 PM three hours before kickoff. So I was like, okay, book it, I’ve got no other option. And they finally restart the bus and we go on our way. But the two people behind me have not settled their differences and it all came to a head when the woman got so frustrated with the guy that she decided to pass gas in front of this guy on purpose and he took her purse and empty the contents of her purse throughout the bus. Yeah. This was my magical Superbowl trip. So the bus driver determines that this woman is going to get thrown off the bus at the next stop. So we pull into a stop in Effingham, Illinois, almost the st Louis or he escorts her off the bus when they go to get gas, only to find out that the bus was stuck in the snow where we got gas.

So quite literally me and 10 other people from the bus went into the gas station in the subway. We got shovels and we had to shovel the Greyhound out so we can move on and had the st Louis. And you have to believe me that I am not exaggerating any of this. In fact, I’m sure that there’s details that I’ve missed or forgotten over the past 10 years, but mercifully we pull into st Louis and we get away from each other as quickly as possible. And I wait in the train station for my 8:00 AM track. That sounds like heaven at this point. And as awful as this is, I still might see my Steelers beat the Packers to win the super bowl. Now the Amtrak was uneventful. It was uncomfortable, but uneventful. Make it the Fort worth with hours to spare. But you gotta understand that I must’ve smelled like a garbage truck at that point and I had no time to get a hotel.

I only had time to go to one of the fanciest hotels in Fort worth where they had my ticket looking like I slept under a bridge and I’m standing in line next to none other than Steve young, the hall of fame quarterback who played for the 40 Niners as I got my ticket. So I went into the bathroom with my little backpack and luckily I had a bag of baby wipes and that my friends was my shower in the bathroom stall. No joke. As Chris Carter and Steve young and two other NFL hall of fame players were also in the bathroom. Well I tried to clean myself off, change my clothes and get ready to go to the Superbowl. So I took the clothes that I had and I threw them in the garbage there cause I was not going to carry them around with me to the game.

I took one last train to get over to at and T stadium and of all things getting into the super bowl was the least eventful thing that I dealt with that day. It’s usually a giant hassle and I got in about 45 minutes before the game started and I sat down in my seat and I just wanted to go to sleep for the entire thing for me at least was muted. They do the whole introduction, everything goes on and I’m trying my best to have some energy to watch the game and wouldn’t you know what out of all games, the Steelers decided to go down 21 to three early in the game and after the packer score to make it 21 to three I just looked up at the ceiling and I said, there is no way that I just went through all of that to watch the Steelers just get blown out in the Superbowl.

So I texted my brother with some enthusiasm. I said, greatest comeback in Superbowl history coming up. And they almost did steal, came all the way back. They were down to the couple and they were driving, heading towards where I was sitting and rush Aardman and hall fumbled the ball. The Packers got it back and it pretty much ended the game for the Steelers except for one last hail Mary drive. And when the game ended, I was so tired. I didn’t even wait around to even watch the Superbowl presentation. I didn’t even see the trophy. I was able to get a seat on a charter bus to take me back to Pittsburgh, but it left 90 minutes after the game ended. So I rushed out to find these people at this bar and I finally found them, got on the bus. It was a bunch of packer fans.

So they were all happy. And we drove through the night, Sunday, all day Monday, got back to Pittsburgh about 11 o’clock Monday night, got back into our house around 1:00 AM on Tuesday and slowly trudged up the stairs to the bedroom. I walked into the room, open the door, and Elizabeth was awake waiting for me. And the first thing she said was, would you do it again? And I said, absolutely not. And she said, I don’t believe you. And I said, no, I’m done. And believe it or not, I haven’t really had the desire to go back to the Superbowl after that. So as you’re enjoying your nachos and your wings and pinging out on your Superbowl buffet, while the chiefs and the 49 is battle tomorrow, just realize that a 10 years ago, at this exact moment, I was trapped in that gray hound. I being an experience that I’d like to forget, but I don’t think I’ll ever be able to. I’ll talk to you tomorrow.

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