01 December, 2011

This was a thing. That happened.

So, yesterday I got a phone call from a woman at the Greyhound terminal asking about what we had available. According to the flier we have up there (I've never seen it) we have rooms going for US$25.
We do not.
We have beds going for US$28.
But whatever. This is a common problem and I can normally get around having to actually have a conversation with these malcontents by telling them that that information is outdated because that's as close to a reasonable and not-untrue explanation as I can figure. But this woman comes at me over the phone saying, "It says here that you have beds for twenty five dollars a person and ten dollars each additional person."
I'd never heard this before and it sure as shit didn't make any sense, so I told the woman, Ma'am we don't have any ten dollar deal-rates or anything like -
"That is not what I said! You did not listen to me! I said that it says here that you have beds for twenty five dollars a person and ten dollars each additional person."
Yes, ma'am I did hear you and I'm trying to say that we do not offer any rates like that.
"Well then why does it say that on your flier!? That is false advertising! That is fraudulent and -"
Ma'am, I did not make that flier, I did not post that flier, I've never even seen that flier, and if that's what the flier says then I don't know who posted it under our name or why they did that. Now, the cheapest bed I got is going for twenty eight bucks...
And it went on from there. That is when I made my mind up to finally go up to the Greyhoud terminal...
... and see about taking down this flier.
In case you've never had the pleasure of visiting the Minneapolis Greyhound terminal, you have to understand something about it: It is the mouth of darkness.
Souls go there to be crushed. Dreams go there to die. People arrive to the terminal carrying their luggage in cardboard boxes held together with what little hope is still in them and what little duct tape they could find in their closet. They have six of these and they weigh fifty pounds a piece and they make their six year olds carry them. These people show up hours - multiple, plural, hours, more than one - in their pyjamas and armed with comforters and sleep there.
No, I'm not making fun of homeless people. Not only because that would be wrong but because these are the fucking passengers.
One time - true story, I actually told it in one of the old podcasts - a guy comes up to me on the smoking patio. He doesn't want a cigarette. He wants to show me the blood on his sleeve. I'm paraphrasing from memory here but he said to me, "Yeah, some guy tried to stab me so I kicked the shit out of him. Now I have to skip town." And that's not the fucked up part. The fucked up part is how nonchalant he was about. Like that was a Tuesday for him.
And that illustrates my point: Greyhound attracts a certain segment of society based on its price. People with severe mental issues and criminal pasts / tendencies tend to not have a whole lot of disposable income. A person who needs to skip town probably doesn't have a reserve of cash stashed away like a TV gangster, no matter how much research is put into the story. This is reality. In reality, people who have to skip town are like my bloody-sleeved friend. People who probably had to scrounge up fifty bucks or how ever much it costs to get a last minute ticket to, say, Madison because that's all the distance they could afford.
In short, yeah, this is going to sound super shitty, but we're talking about the dregs of society.
You remember how I got my bike? My first bike? The kid from Oxford had bought a bike and was planning on Greyhounding the long distances and biking the short distances across the states. That was his plan. What happened? He got mugged outside the Greyhound for something like two grand in traveler's cheques, three hundy in cash, and his passport. The big, clunky, dismantled bike? The mugger didn't care for. Left him with that. So Oxford had to come back here and spent all day on the phone with AmEx and the British Embassy to try to get a provisional passport to get back home. The trip was off. He left the bike here.
The important part, this time around, is not that I gained a bike but that the kid was mugged at the Greyhound terminal.
You can see why I don't want to go.
You can see why I try to discourage people from the Greyhound from coming here. The hostel? This is the farm house. Those people out there? From the Greyhound? They are the living dead.

I'm the black guy.
So Georgie shows up to relieve me of my shift and I tell her what I have to do: Simply walk into Mordor and - wait, I mean head down into that cellar and carve - wait, I mean bike up to the Greyhound and go yank this flier, wherever it may be. I haven't seen it. I haven't ever paid attention to those sorts of things in Greyhound terminals because unlike the shiftless rabble that normally patronizes the Greyhound's services, I have made plans. I know where I will be sleeping after I get off the bus. I tend to not hop on a bus without a defined destination. Chicago? Christine's place. BG? Adam's place. And... OK, so I go to only two places, whatever. But I've done my time on the Greyhound. I don't think I should have to be subjected to it anymore.
Just when I thought I was out... They pull me back in.
(I'm really rocking the movie references this morning.)
So I got up to the Greyhound and I locked my bike to a No Parking sign and headed inside. I took a brief look around, surveying the interior of this crypt, and I saw a man dressed in rags and, unimpeded, roasting a squirrel on a spit over a fire in the middle of the floor. He looked up at me and his yellow eyes shone through the dust and silt that coated his skin and he flashed a toothless smile at me as the throng of the weary and miserable milled about him, ignoring his stench as they wandered about, never to know hope or happiness again.
Actually, no. There was a dirty man sitting next to the board of advertisements and on the other side of him was a woman in a sweat suit under a blanket, busily texting someone with one hand and playing with her hair with the other.
I spotted our ad. Not a flier at all but one of those plastic jobs that's lit up in a case. The sort of thing our owners paid money for. It was installed in the case next to ads for the Hilton, the Marriott, the Hyatt, and the Mall of America. It was not coming down. I inspected it and found there to be no such wording as "twenty five for the first person, ten for each additional person". Indeed, it did say "Rates from $25!" but the only thing it said about ten dollars was "$10 off street parking (during snow emergencies)". That was it. Some piece of shit person had written and rehearsed - she repeated herself verbatim, after all - a scam. She Keyser Söze'd the ad and mangled it into a whole different thing. And then, perhaps, after I got uppity, she was going to threaten to press charges against me for false advertising unless I caved in and gave her that rate.
Sound improbable? It's happened before. Some guy once asked for my name because he wanted to press charges of fraud against me on the federal fucking level. That was a thing. That happened. In real life.
ANYhoo, I got out of the Greyhound station and called Georgie and gave her the scoop, somebody just trying to run a scam and Georgie sighed and agreed and then I looked over and saw a youngish, thuggish Asian man eyeball fucking me. I told Georgie, I have to go, I've got some guy eyeball fucking me.
Georgie laughed.
I said, No for real. I'm outside of the Grreyhound terminal and he's eyeball fucking me.
"OK, go."
Later on, in Target, while trying to pick out a shower curtain - we've gotten complaints about the state of one in the female dormitory, I called Georgie back to tell her that they had nothing longer than six feet and somehow, the Greyhound eyeball fucker came back up and I explained to Georgie, He can see that I have two things he doesn't: A smart phone and a bike.
And then I continued my usual "mouth of darkness" jokes, about how I should be congratulated for stepping into Hell and back out again.
Because I did.

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