• That same question ...









    I knew eventually, I would have to address this issue and it now seems like an appropriate time. With the release of my current novel ‘Greyhound’, I’ve been getting a lot of emails from people I don’t know writing and telling me how much they love the book, the story, the characters, how much it reminds them of their bus trip when they were younger and how much it takes them successfully back to the eighties and so on.

    I didn’t mean to write a ‘period hegira’, but I guess I did, and a lot of folks are all about it. The sales have been in the high thousands, and while evidence shows that I’m not a consistent top 100 seller, I’ve well surpassed my debut author quota of 5,000 plus copies. So, for now, everything seems to be going fine. I’m not a household name, but don’t count me out. I have even better books unpublished sitting on my desk.

    The question that I get asked the most, by just about everybody whether they’ve read the book or not, is whether or not ‘Greyhound Bus Lines’ is promoting the book, sells it in their gift stores, has made a comment, cut me a check, interviewed me, thanked me, got mad at me – and the most direct answer is ‘no’. I haven’t heard a peep from them.

    But in truth, I never expected to and I still don’t. An unknown editor, whose name I honestly don’t know, once said in a video interview (which is both on youtube and on my site) that my book was ‘an elegy to Greyhound’. In translation it meant that I edified the company of which I wrote of, to  the Nth degree. Apart from one character early on in the book, who I named ‘Frank Burns’ (after the MASH tv show), everyone else was a positive influence on me and a positive reflection on the company. But very tertiary searches on the internet of ‘angry Greyhound Bus driver’ yields plenty of video results – and while they do exist, they are definitely not the norm. How do I know this?

    While I was writing the book, I had contacted a man named Gene Nicolelli. He ran the Greyhound museum in Hibbing, Minnesota for a very long time and knew more ins and outs of Greyhound than probably any one else alive. He was an invaluable reference for me and I am thankful to him, as I stated in the forward of the book. I tried to contact him just before launch but I couldn’t get through to him and never heard anything back either, so my fears were for the worst regarding that.

    Other research I did, was in-the-field an on-the-ground. I went to several Greyhound bus stations around Southern California both in the day and at night and consistently I kept encountering the same exact thing. Some incredibly dedicated human beings giving everything they had for the company they worked for. Everyone – hands down – was incredibly polite, answered questions, chatted with me, sold me bus tickets, talked on the phone, drank coffee with me on the platform telling stories, you name it. I was impressed with the level of honest customer service that I received everytime I made my way into a station. 


    Recently, I was in Indio, California and I met a young African-American man who had been behind the counter the other two visits I made and was more professional than I had ever thought he would be. He was very kind to me, told me I couldn’t film in the depot without consent from Greyhound Lines corporate but happily made small talk, sold me a ticket and talked about getting into Palm Springs. The point is, and it may have already escaped a few readers – but I can’t say the same thing about a lot of other businesses in this regard. Greyhound doesn’t need me because they’re doing just fine without me. The people they have on their payrolls are not burned-out drones that hate the company or who only work for Greyhound because they have no other options. Far from it.

    In fact, Greyhound’s overall ridership is up and continuing to climb. It seems as though the company is slowly over-hauling their bus fleet with new much needed modern buses, getting around to remodeling some of the terminals on the busiest lines and revitalizing the brand entirely. Greyhound, for probably the first time in thirty years is being wisely managed and grown as it should. Some people in the know may take issue with that last sentence, but I doubt I’ll be getting much email from them.

    While, yes, it is true, there are problems plaguing the company on the West Coast, I think these are minor issues that will be worked out over time. For instance, Palm Springs ran Greyhound out of town during a ridiculous effort to revitalize and gentrify an area of Palm Springs that is already in heavy decay. Greyhound got pushed out, was left with little to no options, and now some of the residents and news outlets act concerned that Greyhound bus riders get dropped off literally in the middle of the desert ala nowhere. I was interviewed about this on local news, but my piece wasn’t shown because I was pro-Greyhound. Now the city wants Greyhound to either build a new terminal or rent an existing structure for an extremely high lease rate. Smell something bad in there? Yeah, me, too. A few others did as well.

    I’ve done quite a bit of post-release media for the book and with very little press awareness, to be very frank about it, the book has been doing amazing. The sales are good, the majority of all the reviews are incredibly positive and I’ve written about something original and did so in a very sincere manner. I also think I’ve literally generated more media for my book than possibly any other author out there right now, mainstream or no. It would be interesting to see how well the book would be doing if it got just a few positive mentions in mainstream print and news media. That’s okay though, I’m used to working alone and will continue to flourish doing so as time passes.


    ...



    1 comments:

    1. I'm putting this paragraph in the comments as I felt it didn't really belong up in the main body of the post. For the record, it was the second to last paragraph.

      ***

      I’m not from Palm Springs, thus I’m not beholden to them and have no zip code loyalty, besides I live a good thirty minutes away, anyway. Palm Springs has a myriad of problems other than trying to push out the working class thinking they’re doing the city good. In a zip code full of millionaires and billionaires, their food bank is constantly without aid. It would be almost humourous, if it wasn’t so damn sad. So forgive me if I have no love for the people who created that particular problem. Not giving aid and helping those less fortunate is probably one of the biggest problems in this country today. Things are not going to get better by ignoring everyone and locking yourself in your McMansion on a golf green.

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