Picking up a friend at the Greyhound bus station yesterday. I am reminded, again, of the remarkable qualities of their vinyl seats. They manage to be both hot, sticky and uncomfortable in the summer and yet cold, hard and painful in the winter. Add them to the general sense of hopelessness that pervades most of these places and it's a pretty miserable place to spend an hour. The soda machines have all been vandalized and are out of use (The sign says "BROKE") and the snack machine is down to fried pork rinds and two packs of Juicy Fruit gum. No thanks.

I have spent time in these stopover places as both passenger and pickup. In one sense restless to get going, in the other, eager to grab someone and leave. The place never seems to contain happy people, even those who are picking up family. Relief seems to be the reaction of those of us who pick up passengers.

You made it, get your stuff-let's go.

My buddy waited till we were four blocks away to ask me to stop and go to a gas station so he could use the restroom. We both knew better than to even try it at the Greyhound station.