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100 Years on a Dirty Dog
June 27, 2014 11:11 AM   Subscribe

“Greyhound has become generic for bus travel,” says Robert Gabrick, author of Going The Greyhound Way. “Like Kleenex for tissues.”
posted by ellieBOA (18 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
So Greyhound started buying all sorts of companies in all sorts of non-bus industries. That’s how Greyhound’s stable of businesses came to include such diverse businesses as Burger King

I don't know why, but Greyhound owning Burger King makes so much sense.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 11:14 AM on June 27 [8 favorites]


It's probably because both of their floors have a similar texture due to decades of mopping negligence.

Man if shortly after I joined Metafilter back in 2002 you'd told me this would be my last comment on the site I probably would have actually believed you.
posted by item at 11:24 AM on June 27 [5 favorites]


ThePinkSuperhero: "So Greyhound started buying all sorts of companies in all sorts of non-bus industries. That’s how Greyhound’s stable of businesses came to include such diverse businesses as Burger King

I don't know why, but Greyhound owning Burger King makes so much sense.
"

Because they're the cheapest possible option catering to patrons who have a misdemeanor.
posted by wcfields at 11:25 AM on June 27


Lots of experience here buying tickets online for (much) younger people related to me.

Greyhound's day as the generic is passing. It's being displaced by "chinabus".

The fact that Greyhound very annoyingly charges an extra fee if you're buying a ticket that someone else is going to use means I avoid the 'hound wherever I can. Which is increasingly often.
posted by jfuller at 11:26 AM on June 27 [1 favorite]


I hope Trailways dosen't find out.
posted by jonmc at 12:14 PM on June 27


Twenty years ago I had a Greyhound experience so bad that I declared that when I die, if the only way to Heaven is on a Greyhound bus, I'll walk to Hell.
posted by Legomancer at 12:40 PM on June 27 [4 favorites]


I'm not an IP lawyer, but I remember from my trademark class that this is actually very bad for Greyhound's IP rights. When a trademark becomes genericised, the holder of the trademark can lose the ability to enforce it. Companies are supposed to resist becoming genericised like this.
posted by dios at 12:42 PM on June 27


Aspirin, heroin, Xerox, disposall, PC, certainly many more.
posted by Daddy-O at 12:52 PM on June 27


I'm not an IP lawyer, but I remember from my trademark class that this is actually very bad for Greyhound's IP rights. When a trademark becomes genericised, the holder of the trademark can lose the ability to enforce it. Companies are supposed to resist becoming genericised like this.

I've often wondered if this is the reason that companies never use articles when talking about their products.

e.g.

"This is iPod" not "This is the iPod"

"With Kindle, all of your books are at the touch of a button" not "With a Kindle..."

because it always sounds so artificial
posted by leotrotsky at 1:02 PM on June 27 [2 favorites]


My big takeaway from It Happened One Night was that in the 1930s, you could hold singalongs on Greyhound buses. (Well, you could when your studio demanded every one of their leading stars have a musical number, or something approaching one, in each feature.) It was a simpler time back then, apparently The buses looked cooler, but had the same problems and the same weird passengers.

Peter Pan in the 90s was the best inexpensive bus line in New England. The student fares to Boston from Western Mass were actual bargains, and the Springfield bus terminal was shabby but at least had shade. I remember Boston's old bus station next to South Station, suspended above the central artery before the Big Dig. That thing was old-school. Busted tile floor. Little ticket windows set in the wall. Fuzzy loudspeakers with the gain way too high. Tiny pay black-and-white television sets in the armrests of the molded plastic seats. Bathrooms you eschewed for the one on the bus. It was the bus station stand-up comics didn't go to when they didn't knock the mop out of a heckler's hand. The new South Station station looks like an airport terminal both by comparison and in actuality.

I've ridden Peter Pan since they merged with Greyhound, but I don't anymore since I learned that Peter Pan can and will deliberately overbook. The time on your ticket really isn't the time your bus departs; it's the earliest you might be able to get on a bus. When Port Authority gets busy, for example, you can wait 4+ hours for a bus along with the rest of overflow. And unless things have changed since I last rode Peter Pan/Greyhound, that wait is deep in the lowest part of Port Authority surrounded by appropriately-colored red and orange tile.

I took the Fung Wah between Boston and New York for a while, until I had one trip in 2006 (self-link LJ post) where our driver got pulled over by the cops because he was falling asleep at the wheel. This was also around the time other Fung Wah buses were bursting into flames, so I think we got off lucky on that one. Since then I've tried Megabus and Boltbus, and apart from times when the driver's had a hard time remembering how to get out of Manhattan (somehow the Boston-bound bus ended up on the New Jersey Turnpike) things have been all right. Just don't sit in the back of the upper level because that thing sways like a buoy in a storm, and pray to whichever deity you like that you don't end up in front of someone having a loud cellphone conversation about other people's relationship problems from 33rd all the way to Stamford.

I don't think I've ever heard anyone using "Greyhound" generically, though. Huh.
posted by Spatch at 1:09 PM on June 27 [1 favorite]


I have, but not in a long time. And how about 'the dog'? See Harvey Pekar's "Ridin' The Dog" page page 1 and page 2.
posted by Rash at 2:08 PM on June 27


We always call it "The Running Dog"
posted by Megafly at 2:57 PM on June 27 [1 favorite]


Regular rider between Boston and NYC. First of all, Peter Pan and Greyhound have essentially merged in that to buy an online ticket, you are directed to the Greyhound site. A bigger change is that every ticket sold has a boarding number and passengers queue up in groups of ten. No more overbooking but I kind of miss it during holidays because the overflow bus was never more than half full.

The Boston-NYC run is pretty popular because it is less hassle than flying.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 2:59 PM on June 27 [1 favorite]


My biggest problem with taking Greyhound is feeling a physical need to shower once I get off the bus.
posted by sebastienbailard at 5:46 PM on June 27 [1 favorite]


Jesus, the Greyhound. In 2003 I was working near Grant's Pass, Oregon and taking the bus to visit my girlfriend in Portland about every other weekend. Every time I made that trip I really felt like my sanity was about to drip out of my ears and flow away down the aisle. I once shared a row with a young guy who explained his theory that California was the Devil and Oregon was God, so he was traveling towards God but feeling like he might have to get off the bus in Roseburg and catch a bus back to the Devil. He also explained that he had recently stopped taking his medication. Another trip found me next to an elderly Native American man from the Columbia Gorge area who talked to me at length about salmon fishing and about the lake in Washington where the Illuminati made human sacrifices. "Don't go up there," he said to me. "They'll slit your damn throat." On that same trip, a couple of young dudes got into an argument that got pretty heated. They might have started physically attacking each other right on the bus except for the intervention of my seat-mate, who seriously arranged to officiate a boxing match between the two of them at the next rest stop. The driver got wind of the plan and at a desolate pull-out on the I-5 he escorted all three men, plus one of the guy's three-year-old child(!) and pregnant wife(!!) off the bus, then jumped back on real quick and we drove away, leaving them all behind.

My favorite seat-mate, though, was the guy who was listening to his walkman when I took the last open seat on the bus next to him. He didn't acknowledge me at all when I sat down. "Awesome," I thought, relieved that I might not have to make insane small all the way to Portland. I could hear Neil Diamond's "Sweet Caroline" blasting out of his headphones at an incredible volume, but hearing the bleed-out from his headphones didn't seem so bad, given the alternatives. As the bus merged onto the highway, Sweet Caroline ended and then.....began again. And then again, three minutes later. And again and again, for 45 minutes, when the side of the cassette ended. At which point my neighbor silently opened the walkman, flipped the tape and began listening to another uninterrupted run of Sweet Caroline. All the way to Portland, six hours. To me, Sweet Caroline now will always evoke the feel sticky upholstery and the smell of a sweaty Greyhound bus.
posted by otolith at 10:09 PM on June 27 [3 favorites]


I took Greyhound from Portland, OR to Flint, MI a few times in my 20's, always swearing "never again" but I'd get homesick and could afford the bus so there I was. Once in Utah, we stopped for a break, the driver got off walked away and never came back. I guess he quit. We sat in the bus station for hours waiting for a new driver; I watched roaches crawling in and out of the vending machines for amusement.
posted by yodelingisfun at 3:57 PM on June 28


At this point the only Greyhound story that would really surprise me would be one of someone having a completely unremarkable Greyhound trip.
posted by invitapriore at 1:47 PM on June 29


I rode SF to Atlanta, 1989. 73.5 hours end-to-end. The longest time we had off the bus was 6 hours. This was an experience I do not regret, but it finished me as a bus rider.
posted by thelonius at 4:38 PM on June 29


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