How Not To Do Those NY-Boston Hops

Advice is something that we all seem to receive at one point or another whether we ask for it or not. Here, Soura Bhattacharyya, affectionately known as “Showtime,” does just the contrary. Instead of telling Harbus readers what they should do to effectively travel from New York to Boston, he shares his journey from “the place down under” and how not to do those New York – Boston hops.

It all started with a loaded, value-for-money Indian dinner in a New Jersey diner. At least, from my recollection that is where this story begins.

Lesson 1: Do not have a heavy dinner prior to the start of a four hour bus ride.

Shortly after dinner, I headed to the Greyhound station. Away I went, on what I thought was my merry way back to Boston.

Lesson 2: The words “merry” and “Boston” do not belong in the same sentence, especially not when the temperature is in the 60s at the very start of September.

Well, the trip was not very merry at all. The Grinch definitely stole not only Christmas but the hopes of this bus making it to Boston on time. In fact, the Grinch was reincarnated as a woman without a sense of direction with no tolerance for questions or suggestions.

Lesson 3: There is no such thing as a back seat driver. If you want to give directions, rent a car and drive yourself or harass a fellow sectionmate.

With my Greyhound bus driver on her maiden voyage, it seemed as if she had the whole persecution theory thing worked out to the hilt-before the passengers begin to ask questions, tell them (notice that I did not use the term “inform them”-she was certainly telling us!) that you are not aware of the route in question, and in case any of us (i.e. the passengers) felt like dropping into the front seat to share any helpful hints, we were more than welcome to do her job.

Lesson 4: Although you are a Type-A MBA overachiever, do not fool yourself into thinking you can drive a Greyhound bus.

Someone behind me goes “Holy Cr**!”, and pat comes the reply, “There is no need for any profanities on board, more of that and you will be dropped off [the bus].” The sheer delivery of that comment could have knocked Arnold Schwarzenegger from the real world back onto the set of the “Last Action Hero.” If she ever wanted the job of my sixth grade math teacher, she could have it.

Of course, the fact that this trip started at 10:30 p.m. and wasn’t slated to reach Boston until 2:30 a.m. the next morning did not help tremendously. I thoroughly enjoy reading about the Delta Force working through serpentine routes and stygian darkness in the occasional Robert Ludlum thriller, but the idea of a 100 mile walk on the final leg of the journey back to Boston is not my idea of a refreshing morning.

Lesson 5: Limit your fitness routine to Shad Hall and the Charles River, not I-95.

Our only recourse out of the situation, the one faintly glimmering light at the end of the oh-so-proverbial tunnel, was the lady at the other end of the phone. Let me explain myself-this was the friend who was allowing our friendly neighborhood lady bus driver to make her bones, while providing her with the promise of emotional support and practical advice at the other end of what I really hoped was one of Cingular’s “lowest dropped call ever” cell phone connections. Anyhow, we made it to Boston eventually.

Finally, in addition to avoiding bus drivers without a sense of direction or emotional stability, here is one last thing to avoid.

Lesson 6: Unless you enjoy the idea of sudden adrenalin rushes and elevated heart rates, do not purchase a ticket that says Boston – New York when, in fact, it is the other leg of the journey that you want to make.

Even if the Boston – New York ticket is ten bucks cheaper.

Even if you have a Haahvahd ID that you pretend to yourself will distract the ticket checker at the door long enough for you to slip by.

And, even if your e-ticket prints the legends ‘origin’ and ‘destination’ in remarkably small type (courier new size 9 is my guess).

Believe you me, it’s just not worth it. You need to preserve all those adrenaline filled moments for times when you need that perfect wrist flick that twists the knife in that oh-so-painful office colleague’s back (you know, that XYZ MBA who just did not get the fact that your wonderful strategic insights were never meant to be gone over with the fine toothed comb of number crunching). Yup, you need to save up for the real world.

Oh, but the one thing that I did get right was getting back to my room. Where I realized that I needed to pick up case packets and riffle through some pages in preparation for classes the next day. And, I needed to do my laundry. And, I needed to put on my best game face for all the “What did you do this summer” questions that were sure to greet me the next day. On second thought, maybe I need to go back and find that bus driver-and this time grab a one way ticket to Idaho-I’m sure she hasn’t done that route before.

September 11, 2006
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