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You Ain’t Nothin’ but a ‘Hound Rider

Christopher went back to Davis today. For the return trip after a week home on spring break, he found a ride on Zimride, the electronic equivalent of the bulletin board and index cards we used in ancient times. His driver, Sam, is a UC Davis student who also lives in Long Beach, and who Christopher might never have met otherwise.

In the flurry of second-quarter finals and the run-up to spring break, Christopher didn’t manage to find a ride from Davis to Long Beach last week.  “I don’t have a ride home,” he announced last Thursday. “What are you going to do about that?” I asked.

David and I thought about driving up there to get him. But then we decided that wouldn’t be a good idea, sending the message that procrastination has no repercussions. And quite frankly, we didn’t want to log 14 hours on the road. So we magnanimously told him that we’d spring for his ‘Hound ticket home.

He received this news rather glumly, perhaps harboring a secret hope that we’d float him a last-minute, very expensive plane ticket.  The day before his last final, also the eve of his ‘Hound ride, he told me on the phone, “This is going to be bad. I’m not looking forward to this.” In a show of maternal restraint I said nothing, swallowing my retort that if he had planned ahead and gotten a ride home, he wouldn’t be jumping on the ‘Hound.


I rode the ‘Hound in college, $50 and 23 hours to go from Bloomington, Ind. to New Jersey, where my parents lived at the time. The ride was interminable and cramped, punctuated only by the harsh glare of fluorescent lights in the rest stops at 2 or 3 a.m. I remember occasional conversations with fellow riders, who were generally either recently released prisoners or family members traveling to visit a relative in the big house.

We picked Christopher up at the ‘Hound depot in LA last Sunday at 6:20 a.m., saving him the last two hours it would have taken to get all the way to Long Beach. He conceded that the trip “wasn’t that bad.” He spent the week trying to shake a lingering cold, sleeping a lot, and consuming outsized meals. We took him to Los Eduardos in north Long Beach, a little family-owned restaurant we’ve frequented since he was about 8. The waitress gazed up at his 6’4” frame and asked, “Is this your baby?”

We also went to see “The Grand Budapest Hotel” together. Christopher was a reluctant participant in this outing, since we had chosen the film. To him, that meant it was sure to be a dud. But he ended up liking it as much as we did.

This afternoon he climbed into in Sam’s 1984 Civic, a luxurious vehicle compared to the ‘Hound. We sent him back with a prodigious lunch, a few bucks, and all our love. 


About treacycolbert

I make my living by writing about health care. I've always written about life's chastening effect, but just as a way of sorting it out for myself. After years of doing this and keeping these essays quiet, I decided to put some of these impressions out there on this blog. Thanks for reading, and let me know what you think.

4 responses »

  1. Growing up huh? I can remember biting my tongue many times, knowing it was the “right” thing to do and the only way they would learn. Like when they run too fast on the playground and you hope that when they fall, it won’t be too hard. Luckily, they do learn and grow up in the nicest ways – sometimes even when we don’t do the “right” thing.

  2. They do indeed learn, don’t they, Linda? And not always from us. xxoo

  3. Your post brought back memories of my times riding Greyhound and Continental Trailways across country (Phoenix to Asheville, NC for college and Phoenix to Canton, OH for a vacation). Equal parts scary and fun adventure. There was nothing like riding a bus through rural Ohio on July 4, going from small town to small town and taking in all the different Independence Day celebrations. Loved your response to Christopher – “What are you going to do about that?” which really makes him part of the solution.

    • Those bus rides were a rite of passage. Gave us lots of time to read, think, and stare out the window, imagining the lives of people in the towns we passed. Too bad that fewer kids travel that way now.


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