Greyhound

A Greyhound road trip across the country has long been a hallmark of the American experience, a “leave the driving to us” way for those who couldn’t afford airfare or a car to come home from college, start new jobs, get to the coast, leave problematic situations behind.

I took long Greyhound trips dozens of times, first traveling from Connecticut to Montreal and then from Montreal to Indiana. It was a great experience that taught me to appreciate this country more than I thought was possible. Everything was modest yet clean, convenient, and allowed me to preserve my dignity even in poverty.

But will Greyhounds buses become more like the buses I remember from back in Ukraine? A NYTimes article reports on the current state of Greyhound bus lines that now transport enormous numbers of migrants:

Refuse had long before overfilled the available trash bins, and a rank odor wafted out from the restrooms. Mothers, fathers and children huddled together on scraps of cardboard, atop tattered blankets and splayed jackets. Feverish babies with runny noses fussed in their mothers’ arms.

People who go on these buses are folks of modest means. They don’t have cars, can’t afford gas for a long trip, and don’t have the money to fly. Greyhound buslines are their way to travel and still have some self-respect. It’s easy to despise them and feel like they shouldn’t mind the destruction of their spaces to benefit migrants.

The article is paywalled but if you can read it, there’s a great explanation of how capital purposefully squeezes out the traditional users of the lines to substitute then with the new ones. The only problem is that once you reduce the bus stations to this 3rd-world state, there’s no going back. In order to survive, Greyhound will push for an endless stream of displaced people who won’t mind the stench and the slum-like conditions. And we will all cheer on because we are too rich to go on Greyhound buses and can be magnanimous at the expense of those who do.

Advertisements

42 thoughts on “Greyhound”

  1. “The article is paywalled but if you can read it, there’s a great explanation of how capital purposefully squeezes out the traditional users of the lines to…”

    I’m not going to pay good money to read the article, but most “traditional users” simply stopped riding uncomfortable, cramped, noisy buses that take days to get from coast to coast when air travel in America became cheap and affordable to the average family starting in the mid-1960s.

    I don’t think there was any evil master plan by that mysterious “capital” entity to get them off the long-distance bus lines.

    Like

    1. I find this comment to be incredibly annoying. I wasn’t a fucking average family in America when I used Greyhound. I lived in poverty. I’m super happy you don’t know what that is. But I have zero interest in these entitled comments when I’m sharing my experience of poverty.

      Like

      1. Hey, I wasn’t opining on your experience of poverty — just stating that I think the NYT’s claim that some nebulous force called “capital purposefully squeezes out the traditional users of the lines to substitute them with the new ones” is silly. The NYT article wasn’t talking about your personal experience at all, and neither was I.

        And if my opinion is “entitled,” whose isn’t?

        Like

    2. Shorter Dreidel: I got mine Jack! who cares about a bunch of poor losers?! Buses are for migrants, working poor, hoi polloi… whatever you call losers nowadays…
      That’s always been the attitude behind the rise of neoliberalism (in the US the Reagan revolution) and nothing new at all. What’s distressing now is how many progressives are buying into the same policies (changing the rhetoric on the surface a bit).

      Like

      1. Longer cliff arroyo: Ah, cliff, a disappointing misfire from a usually intelligent commenter who’s totally misread everything I posted here. I’ll say this one last time, and then give up trying to communicate my meaning:

        My comment isn’t about me, isn’t about Clarissa’s previous poverty, and sure as hell isn’t * about *migrants, working poor, hoi polloi… whatever you call losers nowadays!

        I don’t address ANY — not a goddamn one — of those groups in either my first two comments, whether directly or by implication.

        What I’m saying — for third and last time, if you don’t get the message now, forget it! — is that I reject the NYT’s premise that some ill-defined entity called “capital purposefully squeezes out the traditional users of the lines to substitute them with the new ones,” when simple market forces were in play.

        Simple market forces in the mid-1960s made air travel much more accessible and cheaper to average Americans, so those average Americans chose to switch from unpleasant, cumbersome, time-consuming long-distance bus travel to newly available affordable, convenient, and much faster air travel.

        AND THAT’S ALL I’M SAYING!! Stop trying to turn my criticism of a single comment in a faulty NYT article about “capital forces” into some nonsensical drivel about class warfare!

        Going to bed now. GOODNIGHT!!

        Like

      2. Somebody said, I forget who, that it’s a class marker not to have to care about these things because one has enough money to insulate oneself from them.

        I’m slaughtered by the hypocrisy of inflicting this on people and then condemn them as racists for not loving it.

        In the article, an immigrant woman says, “I’m going to send my kids to school, they will start learning English.” What isn’t mentioned is the negative impact this has on the school where teachers all of a sudden somehow have to teach students who don’t speak, read, or write in the language of instruction. What are the chances these kids will ever graduate? What are the chances this kind of mom will be bothered to show up for a hearing? What are the chances they’d ever be anything but completely marginalized?

        So what are the buses and the schools being destroyed for? What’s the big gain?

        Like

        1. Am pretty gobsmacked by that comment, Clarissa. There isn’t a school in any Scottish city that hasn’t had kids enrol who’ve started with zero English. It’s not some outrageously difficult task for the school and the teacher, to welcome them and assess what extra help they might need. If anything that part of their job is easier now than it’s ever been in the past. Kids all over the world join schools where they need to learn a new language, and it’s the school’s job to ensure every pupil gets the best possible education for them.

          Like

          1. I’m not sure what you mean by extra help. How do you teach 6th grade math or 7th grade sciences to a kid who can’t understand a word you are saying?

            My nephew is 3 and in his group in preschool there’s a Russian-speaking boy whose genius parents don’t speak English to him at home because they want him to speak Russian. Even at 3 this is already a very traumatized kid. He’d violent, he’s lonely, he’s clearly miserable because he doesn’t understand anything and feels marginalized. And he’s only three! Imagine what this does to one at an older age.

            Even you as an adult. How would it feel if you came to work one day and didn’t understand anybody?

            Like

            1. “genius parents don’t speak English to him at home because they want him to speak Russian”

              Why are children in French speaking Quebec going to an English speaking preschool?! Not great assimilation…

              From what I remember, in terms of the children of immigrants learning the local language it doesn’t matter much what the parents speak as long as the kids have access to other kids (children’s primary language acquisition is from other children)… I knew an middle eastern couple here who spoke to the child in their national version of Arabic and that didn’t stop him from learning Polish because the parents never tried to stop him from mixing with the neighbor kids (no one here has the ridiculous idea of ‘play dates’).

              I suspect there are other reasons the kid has problems – does he speak French or do the parents keep him under lock and key?

              Like

              1. Of course, the kid will end up not being a Russian-speaker because that’s how it always works. And you are right in that this isn’t the only thing going on. Parents who can do this to a child are shitty in other ways too, I’m sure.

                The Anglophones in Quebec are an interesting issue. The French-speaking Quebecois don’t accept anybody who isn’t native-born no matter how great their French. But the Anglo community accepts people gladly. So an immigrant who starts to identify with the Francophone community is going to be very isolated. As a result, allophones become anglophones.

                The family of my brother-in-law, for instance, became francophone. The kids speak nothing but French. And what? They are doomed to hang out with immigrants because it’s impossible to make friends with francophones. It’s a very closed community. The only francophones it’s possible to get close to are the ones who live in English for professional or other reasons.

                Like

            2. If I was in another country and needed to gain a new language, I’d really want to be somewhere like a school, where the immersion into a new language can happen with greater ease than anywhere else I can think of. Easy read books, visual learning, repetition and rhythm/musical based material. We live surrounded by bilingual families, Hindi, Polish, French, Mandarin, Scottish Gaelic. Some of them actively work towards their children being strongly bilingual, some don’t. Bilingual kids are proven to be great learners. Schools work towards ensuring that parents/carers can be part of their kids education, but if parents are working long hours/aren’t confident to turn up to events, then just sneering they aren’t interested is disgracefully rude.

              Like

              1. How would you feel, though? Just imagine, all of a sudden you come to work and have no idea what anybody is saying, what you are supposed to be doing, why everybody is laughing, what tasks they are performing. How would you feel? What impact would that have on you? Confusion, isolation, the feeling that you are always behind everybody. What effect would that have on you?

                And I’m not even talking about the effect on teachers who suddenly have to teach trigonometry to a kid who can’t say “hi, how are you.” Or about other students who have to sit through dumbed-down classes that, in the end, serve nobody. Let’s pretend that all these people don’t matter. How would you feel in this situation if you couldn’t understand what people around you were saying?

                Like

      3. Bernie comes out for bilingual education in his program. Everybody swoons over the word bilingual without stopping to think what it means to have a fully segregated school where half of the kids doesn’t speak the other half’s language. This is a horrible idea!

        Like

    3. I can’t imagine taking a 80E bus across Europe for days when there’s a 120E low-cost flight that’ll get me to my destination in hours. But sometimes people can’t afford the 40E difference, have more luggage than they’d afford to put on a low-cost etc.

      How much do cross-country buses cost, in comparison to cross-country flights, in America?

      Like

      1. We don’t have low-cost flights here, unfortunately. I’m going to Spain soon and I’m just laughing in happy amazement over low-cost flight prices.

        My Greyhound trip was considered overseas, too. It would be 6-7 times more expensive to fly. Plus, bus tickets are open-dated.

        Like

        1. How the hell do regular people even travel in America, then? Drive for days? That sounds even worse than a bus.
          And yep, European low-costs are the best, and likely an important factor in keeping the continent peaceful 🙂

          Like

  2. I keep telling you people the only improvement the world is making is in the world of high tech.
    Everything else is either being allowed to deteriorate or, at best, atrophy. The only thing “important” and “that matters” anymore are those “wonders of the ‘digital’/’high-tech’ world”.
    This world has been on a “mission” to disband and destroy all the traditional legacy/legendary aspects (the “saving graces” so to speak) of its civilizations.
    It’s no longer any kind of “conspiracy theory”. It’s really happening!!!! They’re deliberately destroying all the worthwhile elements while not only keeping the crap stuff around, but expanding on them as well. For some inexplicable reason those in charge want us to live in a tumultuous world of “total shit”!!

    Like

  3. // How would you feel, though? Just imagine, all of a sudden you come to work and have no idea what anybody is saying … How would you feel? What impact would that have on you?

    That’s exactly what happened when I immigrated to Israel in my teens while knowing around a 100 Hebrew words.
    What happened? I arrived 2 months before the end of the school year, learned the language and in the next school year already studied all subjects, including history, with native speakers. And I was not unusual in this regard. After 1-2 years, most normal children integrated very well.

    It was hard in the beginning, but I am glad I know Russian too and believe it (learning Russian and not Hebrew at birth) was worth it despite the difficulties. My life is much, much richer because of being exposed to another culture, even though, unlike you, I am not truly its member, being raised in Israel during the teens.

    Why does Bernie talk about bilingual education? Does he want to hurt kids in order to sound good for PC-and-stupid (and incidentally I-do-not-want-more-competition-for-my-kids) crowd? Why reinvent the wheel when Israel and other countries have successfully integrated millions of immigrants and their children?

    In Israel in the 90ies during a large immigration wave from FSU, there were 1-2 Hebrew teachers for children at probably every school who taught immigrant kids. The kids studied Hebrew instead of usual lessons, but also attended some subjects like English. They also sat in class when Hebrew teachers finished their lessons with them for that day. At least, such was my experience.

    In my case, after sitting the first 2 months with those school Hebrew teachers, I went to Ulpan (language course) for adults in the summer with my mother and learned language there together with her. (It was a half-year free language course for immigrants during which time they were paid so didn’t have to work and could dedicate all their time to learning Hebrew.) That’s why I could study history next year.

    The real problem is not immigrants with zero English and their kids. The real problem is that, unlike in Israel, they are not officially wanted and not helped to integrate. I understand, adults won’t be paid for studying English for half a year, but helping children by employing English teachers is possible. Bernie should talk about that, instead of offering policies which made me think of “we are preparing for deportation of those people, so don’t need or want to teach English to them.”

    Like

    1. I’m sorry, but didn’t you mention that you don’t have a single close friend and don’t hang out with anybody but your family members?

      Dragging a child into a country whose language she or he doesn’t speak is a very, very cruel, selfish thing to do. Of course, it’s always justified with “I’m only emigrating for the kids,” which is the definition of an abusive thing to say.

      Like

      1. // I’m sorry, but didn’t you mention that you don’t have a single close friend and don’t hang out with anybody but your family members?

        It was the same thing in Ukraine. Believe me, it’s not a country thing, only personal reasons. I do feel at home in Israel and have known many immigrants who hang out with plenty of non-family members. Including my mother, who immigrated at the age of 40+, and has not only immigrant friends 🙂

        Israel with its “we are all Jews” ethos may be different from even America, let alone from what you describe experiencing in Quebec. Everybody goes to the same schools, serves in the same IDF (whose role as an engine of integration has been officially recognized) and so on.

        // Dragging a child into a country whose language she or he doesn’t speak is a very, very cruel, selfish thing to do.

        ???

        I am extremely glad we immigrated from Lugansk and are not currently terrorised by bandits with rifles, or living with my aunt in Russia as refugees.

        Israel is a much better country for Jews to live in than Ukraine or Russia.

        Like

        1. You are not reading what I’m saying, which is a defense mechanism. I’m not suggesting not emigrating. I’m suggesting learning the language in advance. Which today is a lot easier than 20 years ago.

          My friend, I don’t know what we are arguing about. I only work with the effects of these decisions every day. This year in my graduating class in the Spanish program I had 3 white students, one African American, and three Hispanics. Can you guess which three didn’t graduate and will have to repeat the year? For the third, fifth and sixth time in a row?

          And that’s Spanish! It’s worse in other programs. We are graduating black students from East St Louis and Chicago Southside at twice the rate of Hispanic students. I’m graduating more African American students in Spanish than native speakers of Spanish, even though we accept about five times more Hispanics. These are African American students who don’t get any foreign languages in high school. I know what will happen to the Greyhound lady’s kid even in the best of circumstances because I see it every day.

          Like

          1. // This year in my graduating class in the Spanish program I had 3 white students, one African American, and three Hispanics. Can you guess which three didn’t graduate and will have to repeat the year? For the third, fifth and sixth time in a row?

            Of course, I do not argue about your experience. What I want to ask is : do you know the statistics regarding students from the same background who remain in Spain? Do they graduate on time there? Do they succeed in life?

            Because everything I’ve seen in Israel makes me suspect they would’ve had problems with graduation had they remained in Spain too.

            Like

            1. They don’t come from Spain, obviously. These are Central American students. And yes, life there is very…. how do I put it to avoid being accused of systemic racism? It’s not amazing.

              So yes, it’s bad in the place of origin. Now imagine adding to that the trauma of sudden displacement and linguistic incompetence.

              Like

      2. 4 out of my 5 kids are in Gaelic medium education. Neither myself , husband or any family members speak Gaelic with any fluency.

        Like

        1. I notice that you still didn’t answer my question. Your children are not immigrants, so it’s not about them. Immigration is a huge trauma, even for those who are perfectly fluent in the language. The trauma is harsher for kids. It’s even more severe for kids who don’t speak the language and are supposed somehow magically to catch up. The graduation rates among these kids are abysmally low. The rates of criminalization are sky-high. Schools are stretched beyond capacity and have to cancel arts, physical education, and theater to pour resources into getting these kids at least semi-literate. I’ve worked with such kids after they develop problems with the law, which happens extremely often. I’ve seen what it does to them.

          How this is connected to your situation is something I don’t see.

          Like

          1. What percentage of kids even have zero English these days? Coca-Cola, Macdonalds, Levis – all globally known? How many can sing ‘if you liked it, you shudda put a ring on it’? All around the world, folk are sickened, watching USA schools spend money on ‘active shooter response training’, security guards and metal detectors. America has plenty money in school budgets, but it’s a political choice for that not to be spent on actual education and care. I put it to you that the ‘criminalization’ is the result of systemic racism in law enforcement and justice system, which along with unacceptable poverty level wages leads to kids not graduating.

            Like

            1. Still no answer to my question, I see. 🙂

              As somebody who actually worked with these kids, I have to tell you that you are wrong. This isn’t about wages or “systemic racism.” That’s all quasi-liberal shibboleths that people use to dismiss the problem.

              I also have to point out that you are vastly exaggerating the reaction of folks “all around the world” to anything that happens in US schools. There are places in the world where students prepare for bombing raids or sit in class in mittens in winter because there’s no heating. It would be bizarre for these people to fret too much about US kids and their first-world problems.

              Like

              1. Well, Clarissa, for someone who was just watching Tucker Carlson ‘for funsies’, you’ve sure sucked up the ideology being pedalled.

                Like

              2. My experience teaching children of immigrants predates my familiarity with Tucker Carlson by 15 years.

                And didn’t I already mention that the argument of “you watch Fox News, so everything you think must come from there, you bigot” is of no interest to me?

                Like

              3. People in other countries fret about American education because those kids will grow and invade their countries. How will ‘Shock and Awe’ workout with soldiers who grew up having nightmares about children being slaughtered at school? How will Klara react to school shooter drills? What do you say to someone who thinks you and N are being ‘cruel and selfish’ when you could move to another country where Klara wouldn’t grow up with that level of threat hanging over her?

                Like

              4. Raddledoldtart: no we really, really don’t. We only fret about the quality of education in US schools when we’re thinking about immigrating. I’m not going to discuss the language issue since I have no familiarity with it, but it’s really stretching it to argue that 99.99% of the non-US population cares about US beyond entertainment and large-scale external affairs decisions.

                Like

              5. I thought it was only Americans who were convinced that the whole planet is endlessly fascinated by them. I remember how we laughed back in Ukraine when somebody said on a US TV show that the whole world was waiting for the verdict in the OJ Simpson trial.

                Like

          2. // The graduation rates among these kids are abysmally low. The rates of criminalization are sky-high. … I’ve worked with such kids after they develop problems with the law, which happens extremely often. I’ve seen what it does to them.

            At which age have those kids immigrated? Pre-teens, teens, high school? I believe it makes a huge difference.

            Also, I believe kids are influenced much more by their parents’ inability to provide for them normally both in their original country and then in America than by not knowing English at 13 or even 15. To cope with high school immigrants, Israel has special programs with simplified history, literature and so on (but not math, English or physics f.e.) high school bagrut examinations. My high school former friend immigrated at 15 or 16, but it hasn’t prevented her from studying in my class and then going to college.

            You say, “Immigration is a huge trauma … even more severe for kids who don’t speak the language.” I agree it is hard; however, the crucial element lies not in not knowing language or in changing countries by itself but in lacking resources to integrate normally when neither parents nor the new country provide the required help. The help is not that huge. It does not lie in hours of counselling or anything like that, but in feeling accepted by the new society and having some economic stability provided by parents. Again, I do not talk about abusive families and/or families whose kids would have had problems with the law in their home countries anyway.

            Like

  4. // People in other countries fret about American education because those kids will grow and invade their countries.

    raddledoldtart, it may be true only for a few people in a few very special countries. I’ve experienced none of that neither in Ukraine nor in Israel. Started truly learning English at school and hearing the word “USA” in media only after immigrating to Israel because of the ties between our countries.

    Btw, school students in FSU still don’t know English as far as I know regardless of knowing the brand Coca-Cola. If I am mistaken, Clarissa will correct me. I have a relative who teaches English in Russia and his level of the language is lower than the acceptable for high school teachers in Israel.

    Have never seen USA schools mentioned in Ukraine and I think neither in Israel. May be, once because of a shooting somewhere, don’t remember. People couldn’t care less about USA schools or American education or school shooter drills . May be, Russia will mention the latter in anti-American propaganda, who knows.

    I started hearing a little about American education after discovering Internet and American blogs. And still don’t remembering seeing the phrases – ‘Shock and Awe’ workout – or – school shooter drills – except in your comment right now. People know much less than you think.

    Like

  5. // I remember how we laughed back in Ukraine when somebody said on a US TV show that the whole world was waiting for the verdict in the OJ Simpson trial.

    Here is a former Ukrainian and a current Israeli who has never heard of the OJ Simpson trial before coming to your blog. Don’t think it’s known in Israel either.

    What I learned about African-American history in Ukraine was limited by two books: “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” and “Gone with the Wind.” 🙂

    Like

  6. I am sorry,but it feels that everybody is talking past each other here and also mixing apples with oranges. So my several cents, based on experience.

    I do not know of many people who are concerned about education system or school shootings in some other country because that country could invade their country. Even the people who are constantly upset about the American interventionism rarely make this connection. Why should they? Any army, on average, consists of young dumb kids from shitty socioeconomic and educational backgrounds… I do not see any particular reason to trust (in the case of a foreign occupation) a bunch of dumb armed US kids any more or any less than a bunch of dumb armed Chinese, Russian or French kids.

    Concerning the ease of integration / learning language, I guess one has to distinguish between two fundamentally different scenarios: a) there is a high percentage of immigrant kids but they are from different countries and speak different languages and therefore need the language of the host country in order to communicate between each other and b) the immigrant kids share the same language and thus form a “parallel society”. (I definitely hear a lot of English from the playground of a nearby Francophone school, ha-ha…)

    Not denying that immigration is “a trauma” – the degree to which some event is a “trauma” to a particular person depends on many factors… In general, one should not assume that his or her experience should be projected onto others and that others cannot possibly have it easier (or harder) than oneself.

    Like

    1. I’m sure that an illegal immigrant from El Salvador with zero English has it as bad as it’s possible, you know? Statistics support my view. Immigrants from Central America are not a high-achievement group, and that’s putting it very mildly. Their high-school graduation rates are ridiculously low. It’s not like we don’t have an enormous body of data to find out if I’m inventing this.

      Like

      1. I am not questioning your statistics, I am wondering about the cause and effect relationships that result in the observable statistics.

        Like

        1. These are obviously traumatized people from a dysfunctional society. But sticking them in a public school and expecting them to magically pick up the language can’t possibly help.

          I don’t understand why people are resisting this idea. I honestly don’t.

          Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.