Happy Trails (and not the fun kind)

I have problems with buses. Lots of problems. They probably started in elementary school when I had to take the school bus and Anthony wouldn’t let me sit next to my best friend. These issues were exacerbated by overhearing someone have phone sex on a school bus years later, which were compounded by a few traumatic experiences on buses at my undergrad alma mater.

Needless to say there was a reason why one of my old supervisors told me to call her if I was ever faced with having to take a bus. She told me she would pick me up from anywhere at any time.

But being a poor grad student in NYC means that the only cheap way to travel back home and to see my sister is buses, so Greyhound and I have cultivated a very special relationship. I give Greyhound money and they trap me in a moving vehicle for 5-7 hours with people who sometimes terrify me, wifi that rarely works, and outlets that are usually on the fritz. Oh, the stories I could tell you and the lectures I could give on good bus etiquette.

This post, however, is about my most recent Greyhound bus trip from NYC to DC. Per usual I arrived at Port Authority bus station early, printed my ticket, bought a sandwich, and camped out at my gate. I was situated right next to the information booth where I was at first amused and then horrified by the employees’ attempts at customer service.

It started out as amusing because it was that very typical New York City attitude clashing with the unprepared. There was a little envy, a little wish that I could turn that kind of attitude on some of my asshole customers, but it didn’t last long. The one person who was in the booth conversed mostly in an aggressive yell and her tone left a lot to be desired.

If someone was trying to find a gate that was in the other terminal she would say, “Up, right, back down the stairs.” As someone who has been taking buses from Port Authority for two years I got what she was saying, but one poor and confused customer had this yelled at her four times. The information booth employee scoffed at her coworkers that she didn’t understand what was wrong with the customer. There was nothing wrong with the customer. The homeless guy who hangs out near the other terminal gives better directions for whatever scraps lost tourists are willing to give him than this Greyhound employee.

Then there were the two people asking about buses to New Jersey. “Up, right, up the stairs,” and “We don’t do buses to New Jersey. You need New Jersey Transit. New. Jersey. Transit.” Followed up with her throwing her hands in the air and rolling her eyes.

I worked four years in a customer service department and now in a coffee shop. I intimately understand customer service. No, the customer is not always right. Usually ze has no clue what ze is talking about, but that is when you need to slow down. Instead of, “Up, right, back down the stairs,” the information booth employee should have said, “Take the stairs directly behind you, at the top turn right and walk down the hallway until you see the stairs going down. Take those stairs down a level and gate 22 will be on your left.” It takes more time the first time, but you are less likely to have that customer return confused and upset four times.

Greyhound, I think it’s time to invest in some customer service seminars for your NYC branch.

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