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No More Going Quietly

This opinion piece was published in Up and Coming Weekly (newspaper in Fayetteville, NC) during August 2009.

No More Going Quietly
by Karl W. Merritt

I am starting this article at 4:20 AM and must finish it while in the right mood. This is the case because what follows is the product of an experience I just survived. Today is 9 July 2009, the twenty-sixth birthday of my daughter, Hope. Her mother died when Hope was six years old. In spite of that tremendous loss, she has grown into a wonderful young lady of whom I am very proud. The plan was for me to meet Hope in Macon, Georgia today and ride with her to Albany where my father and stepmother live. The two hour drive would have given us some time to reflect and celebrate. Then we were going to visit family, including my 85 year old father.
Instead, I failed to leave Fayetteville by Greyhound Bus at 3:20 this morning as planned. I ride buses because long distance driving and I do not mesh. Beyond that, I do not like flying and it is far more expensive than I am willing to accept. Consequently, I ride buses. For this trip, my ticket was purchased over twenty-one days in advance. I showed up at the Bus Station well before time for my departure. With ticket in hand, I got in the designated line with a crowd of other people. Eventually, a bus driver opened the door at the head of our line and started taking tickets. She said something about Savannah which was to be my first transfer point. Moving toward her to get clarification, I heard her say, “People going to Florida.” Others in the line shared my resulting confusion. The driver took tickets from a few people who indicated they were going to Savannah. Then, with several of us still in line, she closed the door, got on the bus, and drove away.
Nobody in authority gave any explanation. Finally, several of us now stranded would-be bus riders went to the gentleman at the counter. He simply said, “I am sorry. The next bus to Savannah leaves at 8:15 AM.” Bottom line was that Greyhound sold more tickets for that bus than it would carry. I asked the gentleman if I could get a refund on my ticket and was there the possibility of additional compensation for my inconvenience. He simply showed me an address in Dallas and said I would have to write that office. However, he did look at my ticket and point out that it was nonrefundable. I made the case that I purchased the ticket twenty-one days in advance and, given the amazing technology of our time, Greyhound could certainly track how many tickets were sold and not overbook the bus.
My wife, who was not feeling well, had gotten up in the wee hours of the morning to drive me to the Bus Station. It would have been totally unreasonable to ask her to pick me up. So I took a taxi home at a cost of $15.00 which included a tip.

Initially, I was unusually upset by this course of events. My wife getting up from her sick bed to drive me, missing Hope’s birthday, not getting time with family, being routinely told that Greyhound gets to keep my money even when they failed to deliver, and having to pay $15 for a taxi I never should have had to take all came crashing down on me. Then it hit me. This kind of happening has become routine in our Nation. I am absolutely surprised when I go into a store and an employee offers to assist me. It boggles my mind when someone does what they promised. Getting quality work from any source is justification for erecting a shrine to the worker. Maybe, just maybe, if enough of us demand better, we might just get it. I refuse to be quiet about and accepting of this kind of treatment and I invite you to do the same.

By the way, even if I take the 8:15 AM bus to Savannah, the next bus to Macon is not until tomorrow.

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