Lydia Webb tells us the ridiculous story of her experience on an overnight bus in Canada
I looked up. It was getting on for eleven, our Greyhound bus from Edmonton to Prince George had been delayed by a good hour and I had accidentally made eye contact with a man who was munching Doritos and staring at me. “Hey, you,” he said, pointing at me “where did you get that hat from?” I looked down at the cowboy hat I had purchased at the rodeo in Calgary a week previously and instantly regretted the impulse buy. I answered fairly unenthusiastically, attempting to discourage him from talking to me. It didn’t work. As he launched into a fairly explicit account of his personal life story, I made a mental note to sit as far away from him on the bus as I could.
As we finally boarded, the unhinged gentleman made his way towards the back of the bus as we made sure to sit near the front. We were just beginning to settle in for our overnight ride when we heard shouting from the very back of the bus. “Get this guy off of me! Get him off this bus,” a man with a ponytail was crying out, blood dripping from his nose, as he fled down the aisle, and into the ‘safety’ of the station. He refused to get back on even after his assailant was escorted off the bus in a fit of rage as the crowd of passengers watched silently.
At this point, a very shifty guy dressed head to toe in white (track suit, beanie hat and trainers) and covered in gang tattoos, including a teardrop tattoo, which gang members apparently get when they’ve killed someone, began to get quite agitated. He was also wearing sunglasses in what was now the middle of the night. Shuffling around in his seat, he piped up, “Are we going yet? I’m not even supposed to be here. The judge told me to leave the city!” From this we gathered he was a fugitive, using the same bus as us to go on the run. Brilliant, I thought, another criminal. The old woman sat behind him turned to us with a look of utter horror. “This is a scary bus. Are you scared? I’m scared,” she said as she came to sit behind us, basically using us as a human shield. Sensing he’d revealed too much, the fugitive snuck off our bus and onto another neighbouring bus headed to Toronto. The passengers on our bus, for some God-unknown reason, told the driver so that he could go and fetch him.
As the wanted man got more and more anxious, the situation became more and more ridiculous. All we wanted was to leave Edmonton behind and now we were stuck on a bus with a probable murderer waiting for the delayed passengers to arrive so we could hit the road. We eventually did, sometime in the early hours, and sensing the drama wasn’t over, I kept watch on the criminal in front. When we were on the highway, the sunglasses-wearing fugitive started to freak out and approached the driver to ask him to pull over so he could get off. The driver refused, informing him the next stop would be in twenty minutes. “Can’t you see I’m suffocating? Let me off this Goddamn bus, man!” This part was actually quite scary, seeing as he was clearly on something and it looked as if he might try and grab the wheel. The passengers, myself included, started shouting for him to be let off the bus until the driver succumbed to the pressure, and pulled into the hard shoulder. Off the criminal ran, as we fell about laughing at the fact that the all-white tracksuit made him an illuminated beacon in the darkness- probably not the best outfit for someone trying to lay low. He jumped a fence, probably with the intent of breaking into someone’s home, and a passenger reacted by calling the police.
As soon as we were out of Edmonton, I closed my eyes in sleep. The moral of the story? Beware of the Greyhound bus!
All Images: Lydia Webb