I’ve taken the Bolt Bus home from Boston to Newark and New York (and back to Boston again) countless times, and over the years I’ve had some really great times on the bus. I’ll always remember fondly the time the 4-hour ride ended up taking 9 hours, or the time my middle-aged seatmate whipped out a flask and suddenly got really chatty an hour into the trip. For those of you who have never had the pleasure of taking one of these refurbished Peter Pan buses, let me fill you in: the appeal of Bolt lies in the price. Tickets usually range from $15 to $22 depending on the date, but once in a while (if you’re really lucky) you can score a ticket for just $1. As you might imagine, the $20 bus crowd is composed of some truly interesting characters, and most of them fall into one of five categories:
- The Whiner
The Whiner paid just $15 for his ticket, yet he seems shocked that his experience riding a cramped bus from Boston to New York is not really the same as riding in the first-class cabin on a 747. The Whiner is under the impression that, although everyone on the bus paid a very similar low price for his or her ticket, he is the only one who deserves VIP treatment. His list of complaints is long and the number of times he gets up to bother the driver is many. Why isn’t the WiFi working? Ugh, my footrest is too low. I thought the in-flight meal was included in the price of the ticket! Settle down, sir. You paid $15 to be driven 230 miles. You get what you pay for.
- The Talker
This is Fiona. Fiona is really, really chatty. Some people might even call her insufferable. She is 55, and her husband Brian is 30. Fiona is a cougar, like Courteney Cox on that funny TV show. What’s that show called again? Do you watch that show? Fiona and Brian are a self-proclaimed bohemian couple searching for adventure. Fiona can’t believe the deal she got on these bus tickets. Just $15 each to go from Boston to THE BIG APPLE for the weekend!!! Do you think that they should visit Times Square while they are there? Fiona has a sister who lives in the Bronx, but she doesn’t like her sister’s husband because he once forgot to call her to say happy birthday until the day AFTER her birthday. So rude. Don’t you think that’s rude? Come to think of it, she doesn’t really like the way the two of them are raising their children, either…
- The Sleeper
Apparently there are people in this world who feel so comfortable on public transportation that they can actually fall asleep. I am not one of those people, but the Sleeper is. She keeps nodding off, her head keeps resting on your shoulder, and every time you gently wake her up she’s super apologetic… until she does it again five minutes later. Oh my gahd, I’m so sahhry, I’m so embarrassed. Like, no you’re not. You just fell asleep (repeatedly) on the shoulder of a complete stranger on some seedy bus. You have no concept of shame.
The Sleeper strikes again.
- The Cell Phone
Wait, so you think a Sunday night bus ride from Newark to Boston is the window of time during which you should make all of your most personal phone calls?? OMG, me too! It’s the perfect time to schedule your gynecology appointment, catch up with your mom about every last mundane detail of your personal life (so when I was checking out, the cashier told me that my coupon wasn’t valid, and I was like, look buddy, don’t get sassy with me. This just came in the mail yesterday.), and get into a screaming match with your boyfriend. I totally agree; it’s not rude or annoying AT ALL when you incessantly prattle along on your phone for the entire duration of the bus ride.
- The Creeper
When you get on a bus in Newark, at least one of your fellow riders is bound to be a creeper. The Creeper treats the bus like his own personal Match.com event, roaming the aisles before departure, trying to start conversations and gauge peoples’ interest (and disinterest) in being crept upon. Where are YOU going, sweetheart? You got a boyfriend? The creeper probably wears a thumb ring. He won’t be deterred by headphones, sunglasses, sweatshirt hoods, or by you staring out the window and ignoring him. He is also unbothered by those clip-on facial piercings that you purchased at Claire’s for the sole purpose of warding off potentially weird seatmates like him. I like your nose ring. I’m into that. You might think that it would be a good idea to get on the bus early in order to get the best seat possible. And you would be wrong. So wrong. The creeper is never the first one on the bus, because he knows that if he gets on just a little later, he can see who’s already there and carefully choose his victim. He will find you, and once he’s taken the seat next to you, you won’t be able to escape his questions about your true hair color and where you live these days.