Thursday, April 7, 2011

Journey To England Part X

We awoke early the next morning, surprisingly un-hungover. Now here's an interesting fact. The room had ten beds. When we went to bed the previous night, the remaining eight beds were all occupied by sleeping people. Since we woke up early, they were all still asleep. So despite sharing a room with eight people, neither mike nor I ever met any of them. 

We started off the day by going to some gift shops. Once again, every single one looked the same. We each got a tartan scarf, which probably wasn't made by a real Scottish person at all. I'd be surprised if there was even a Scottish person in the same room at the time, or even within shouting distance. Then we headed off to the bus station. We had to take the bus back into London, where we planned to catch a connecting bus to Norwich, where Mike's grandfather would pick us up. 

And so began the worst day of the trip. 

It started out fine. We pulled into a service station maybe halfway through the nine hour bus ride for a ten minute break. Snacks were had by all. If the remainder of the trip was to be anything like those snacks, we were looking at some smooth sailing. Everyone piled back on the bus, ready for London...but the bus wouldn't start. Assuming the drivers (two for such a long trip) would know that passengers had things to do, like "catch other fucking buses" I figured there was a company protocol in place in case for such a scenario, and we'd be back on the road shortly. 

An hour passed. We were told virtually nothing.


Suddenly the bus started!

Excellent! Let's get going! 

C'mon then!

Why aren't we leaving?


The drivers were spectacularly good at leaving us in the dark, so only after enough people asked what the fuck we were waiting for did they tell us they were waiting for another bus to arrive. Huh? 

Well, It wasn't a direct route to London. There were scheduled stops beforehand, and anybody getting off before London could take this soon to arrive bus, leaving this bus free to go straight to London, in order to make up for lost time. Oh! Perfect! 

Another hour passed. 


Surely by then all the time they'd spent doing fuck-all had rendered their whole time saving strategy worthless. 

Finally we got word we'd meet the other bus about fifteen minutes away, and we got moving. Mike and I were panicking at this point, because this bus had been scheduled to get us to London with just over an hour to spare to make our connection. Now that we'd wasted two hours, we hoped to hell that by shuffling passengers around, we'd make up enough time to still catch the connecting bus. 

Everything eventually got sorted out, and both buses took off. A few minutes later, the driver got call on his radio that one of the moved passengers had left something on this bus, and we had to turn around. 


I was about ready to murder puppies at this point with no remorse, so when the driver got a second call several minutes later that said "Whoops! Sorry, the passenger's bag was here the whole time!" my rage was mind boggling. An extra fifteen minutes wasted. Remember that.

Back on the road! The driver tried to get everyone to the station as quickly as possible, but of course traffic in London was pretty thick, so even though we were on the outskirts of town with a solid half an hour before our next bus was scheduled to leave, the infuriating stop and go traffic lasted forty five minutes, and we missed our bus by, yup: 

Fifteen. Fucking. Minutes.

Hours of delays and fuck ups, and if it hadn't been for some stupid asshole on the other bus thinking they'd left their bag behind when they hadn't, and we probably would've made it.

It was about 10pm, and the next bus to Norwich wasn't until 10am the next morning. So what the fuck were we supposed to do? Mike called his grandfather for tips, who mentioned the last train to Norwich left Liverpool station at 11pm. The station stop was about 45 minutes away by subway, so we had to book it. Keep in mind we're racing around town with all of our heavy ass luggage still. We got to the subway platform for the yellow line and hoped to see a train shortly, but we noticed the platform was suspiciously empty. Oh what's this? A sign! 

Yellow line under construction this weekend. 


So it was about 10:30. By then we didn't have any chance of making it to the train station before 11, even by cab, so we were staying in London that night, but where? 

Back to the bus station to complain to megabus for fucking up our lives! 

We didn't get any help regarding whether Megabus would give us any refunds or pay for lodging that night, only that we'd have to call customer service the next day and file a complaint and then wait awhile for them to maybe refund us part of the money. So fuck that stupid ass company right in the face! 

We were both short on funds and too exhausted to walk who knows how far to find a hostel that probably wouldn't have any space on such short notice on a Saturday night, so we asked someone working at the bus station if there was a waiting room we could hang out in that night. He said "No, the station closes at midnight." 


At this point it was just after 11pm, so before figuring out where exactly we'd stay that night we thought "this sucks, let's get utterly wasted." This shined a ray of happiness onto our awful situation. We were so exhausted that we thought it was a perfectly fine plan to get a giant bottle of booze, then drink it in a park until we passed out. 

We found a store that said they sold booze, but it wasn't in an immediately obvious spot, so we grew concerned. Then we noticed giant trash bags covering one section of the store. Not kidding, trash bags taped to the walls. Fearing the worst, we asked the clerk if they weren't selling booze anymore.

"No alcohol after 11!"

Oh god no. We tried to explain to them the misery of our situation, and since it was only 11:20, surely they could make an exception.

"No alcohol after 11!"


So we walked out, yet another awful defeat added to the pile. The bus station opened back up at 6am, so we thought "how hard could it be to kill six hours? Let's just hang out in a park and fall asleep or something."

It started raining. 

We scurried back to a corner near the bus station, where there was some protection from the rain. We didn't know what else to do but just sit there for hours until the station opened back up. It was getting awfully cold too.

Soon a security guard came by and told us to leave. 

Too angry for coherent thought.

We were at the end of our ropes, so we calmly explained our situation, when what we really felt like doing was beating him to death with clubs. He repeated that we couldn't stay there so we said "...ok we'll leave soon." He apparently had an ounce of humanity left in him, because even though it was blatantly obvious we had no plans to actually leave, he said "Ok, that's fine." He left, and thankfully didn't return, so we were able to get a couple miserable hours of sleep. We both knew what it felt like to be homeless that night.

After the longest night of our lives, we headed back to the bus station before 6am so we could get inside as soon as it opened. Then we could at least be inside a heated building for the last few hours before our bus.  

And It was already fucking open. 


Several people were asleep inside.

If any of you out there know me as a fairly laid back person, this is why. After experiencing the rage I felt at that moment, I knew that any anger I felt for the rest of my life would feel like sunshine compared to this.

We nodded off for a bit and finally 10am came around. That bus ride was one of the most relieving experiences I had ever felt. We had been through hell, and were still alive! Now it was time to relax on the English countryside for a week. Thank fuck for that.

Mike tried to get in touch with Megabus several times to see about getting a refund for the shitty trip, a refund for the bus we missed, or a refund for the extra ticket we had to buy. Multiple phone calls later customer service said "you can file a complaint online." And that was that. We did. 

MONTHS LATER, Mike got a response. They were happy to give a refund for one of the tickets, provided he still had the Bus ticket info, and confirmation # from the original purchase. Needless to say, he didn't have the info readily available. 

Fuck you megabus. I'm not even gonna fucking capitalize you anymore. 

(Just kidding about the puppies thing by the way.)

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