After occupying a restroom at Coca Cola for a record 20 minutes, soon to find out that the waiting line had moved from the main entrance to the bathroom entrance, I took my body back to the Greyhound terminal, which by now had become the definitely most densely populated place on planet Earth. After having fought for a seat on the bus going south at 18:15, I was not very happy to discover that the air conditioning on the bus was out of order. It soon turned out to be a good thing, though, in the way that it lead to a very interesting anthropological study of the southern Greyhound way of life.
About 20 minutes into the ride, the first comments started to sparkle from the passengers in the back towards the front. In an hour the comments had reached the front of the seat, where the driver elegantly returned them, one by one. "You wouldn't be sweating this bad if you weren't so fat, ma'am." "You wouldn't be talking now if I did what I feel like doing now, driver." Touche. I rather enjoyed it. I was in a similar situation in New England, but there the drivers obviously wasn't trained to insult their passengers. This one here was! And he went totally mad at us stupid suckers when we finally arrived in Macon and he found that none of us had even tried to open the ventilation caps in the roof. Oh well. Such is life.
While the driver was busy yelling at the passengers, I sneaked out of the bus, grabbed my backpack and headed for the closest payphone. I called Paul and told him that this Norwegian might be happy for a place to sleep for a couple of nights, after which he must have thrown himself into the car at once, as he arrived at the station just a little bit later. While I was waiting for him, I enjoyed a thunderstorm going by... I had really developed a liking for the US thunderstorms by now.
After a drive through an impressive collection of old southern mansions, I was in this typical, typical American neighbourhood in Warner Robins, with a lot of pretty houses close together, and basketball hoops everywhere. Paul introduced me to his driveway, his garage, his wife, his daughters Sarah and Lisa, their poodle Snuggles and a rather innocent little kitten. This typical American family (well... at least what most American families would wish they were, at least), treated me with a very pleasing typical American dinner/evening meal. After having eaten, I was introduced to the last, but far from least member of the family; the huuuuge TV set. Man's, wife's and children's best friend. With a lot of inches, colours and channels.
We talked for a while, and I found the family to be very nice people. By now it was getting late, and I was really tired, so I was glad when it seemed the day was ending in this house. I had been granted one of the daughter's room, and yet again I wasn't allowed to unroll my sleeping bag. And I was not complaining. The US bedcover system is totally fascinating, with a lot of layers of sheets to choose from, and if you learn to do it right, many a pleasant night awaits you, whatever the temperature. Too bad I never got the hang of it, really... Anyway, before I went to bed, I was introduced to the last family member; the alarm system. Before I did anything, I had to make sure there wasn't an anything-sensor where I did it. Fair enough. I couldn't help comparing being in this Festung Georgia, to sleeping practically on the streets of New York City. I survived both.
Warner Robins is not a movie company. Warner Robins is a rather large small neighbourhood, stretched along the 75. The reason it is on this particular stretch of the road is a large air force base, called uhm... Robins Air Force Base. The contrast from Atlanta where most of the population seemed to be African Americans, Warner Robins is a close to all-white community. Go figure.
I slept very well, somewhere between layer 4 and 5 of the sheets, I think. For breakfast my hosts had gotten hold of some cinnamon-pie, which was authentic Amish pastry. Yummy. After this we rushed out to the Museum of Aviation, where I had a hard time believing what I saw. In this small town, they happen to have a most impressive collection of military airplanes. Thanks to it, I now know how small I appear, next to a B52, and I know how it feels to let your fingers run along the wings of an SR 71 Blackbird. These two, along with the 82 other airplanes, was definitely worth a visit in southern Georgia.
Lunch was consumed at Piggy BBQ, a charming restaurant full of pigs in all shapes and colours. I had sliced pork with french fries, and something that looked rather suspicious, and was corn-balls. Paul took me home, where we waited for the daughters of the house while they had their feet measured for new ballet shoes, before we headed for a peach farm and ate peach icecream. I managed to sneak around the corner and steal a few peaches, off the trees. *Mmmm* I'm so bad. Still, I don't think the farm owner missed them. He had a few millions of them to spare, it seemed. I am pretty confident I could've spent the rest of my life on that peach farm.
Aaaaaaahhhhh... I am currently spending time in the military. At the pool-side in the Officers Club of the Air Force Base. And it is way too warm for a cool Norwegian. Still, it could be worse. I could have been back in Norway, for example. #:D)
This morning I was woken up by the kitten. It was so late that we missed the sunday school, which isn't just for children but for people of all ages. It seems I have arrived into the middle of the Bible Belt. This'll be fun, I thought to myself, going with the Dunn's to the church. I haven`t been to any church for years now, but I have spent enough time in Norwegian churches to know that I am always bored after a few minutes in there. Again, luckily I was not in Norway now. But I certainly WAS the only person dressed in jeans in that church today. Still, people were tolerant, and as long as I behaved I was allowed to stay.
This church and this service was very, very different from what I am used to from Norway. People kept smiling all the time, for no obvious reason. A young preacher told us the latest news from his stay in Between, a small collection of houses nearby, with only one industry: Production of t-shirts saying "I have been in Between". We got to watch some lithurgic dance(!), and everyone present wrote their names on protocols that were passed around, so that the priest could tell if someone possibly were on their way to not being very enthusiastic members of the church anymore. Strange. Oh, and the children in this area call their parents "Sir" and "Ma'am". This is new to me, and to be honest it seems very strange... Still, it is the way it is, and people DO seem more polite here than elsewhere in the US I have been, so it might be a good thing.
I had to shake hands with the priest before I was taken to a family happening, where I met just the approximately closest relatives of Paul's wife. And they meet like this after church all the time. Not only do they meet, they also eat. Very southern food it was: cantaloupe, iced tea, corn, cornbread, green beans, fig, rice, orange ice and a lot more. After waiting for the required hour we went out to the officer's club, and now I am going to cool down in the water.
From the USAF Pool we left for the home of the Dunns, where there was some cleaning up to do, as the family poodle had demonstrated its indignation for not being taken to the pool VERY substantially. I washed and dried my clothes and was soon ready to leave the family, with a feeling of having been in touch with the real southern way of living life.
We had time for another meal before going to the bus station, and it was consumed at Steak 'n Ale, or what I will remember as Steak 'n Sour Milk, really. Apart from the quality of the dairy products, this was a very pleasant experience. When I was dropped off at the bus station, I discovered that the bus station was closed and wouldn't be open again until the next day. My hosts were a bit sceptical about leaving me there in my desperate uncertainty, but I convinced them I would survive the night whatever happened. So. We said goodbye, and when they left I went to the closest Wendy's burgerplace. I managed to be the only customer for 4 hours, occupying at least 6 employees all this time, by ordering a glass of juice and drinking it slooooooooowly.
Finally my bus came, and luckily my travel agency in Norway had given me one of the no-longer-in-use Greyhound passes with several vouchers for travelling in it, so I could go with this bus without checking in at the oh-so-closed counter first.
From Macon I went to Atlanta without a ticket, and in Atlanta the computer totally refused to accept me as a passenger, so I just jumped onto a bus going north, doing my best to explain the situation to the driver. And here I am, in Nashville, having travelled a very long way without a ticket. Nifty life.
Nashville has got to be the funniest Greyhound station ever. Really long lines, even at 5:45 in the morning. Grumpy faces everywhere. People yelling at each other. I can`t help smiling at a large sign on the wall inside the Greyhound bus terminal here:
A customer is the most important visitor on our premises.
He is not dependent on us ... WE are dependent on him.
He is not an outsider in our busines ... He is part of it.
We are not doing him a favor by serving him ... He is doing US a favor by giving us the opportunity to do so.
(C) 1995 BC Tørrissen