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Spring break experiences

Amanda Michaels | Tuesday, March 16, 2004

After seeing the faded Greyhound sign that was the Marianna, Fla. bus depot in its entirety, I should have known that spring break wasn’t going to give up without a fight.

It had all started a week earlier, when my friends and I had found ourselves in an equally frustrating transportation situation on the first day of vacation. After I made good use of my Notre Dame education and read the train schedule wrong, leaving us stranded in the South Bend airport for two hours, I displayed some truly superior navigational skills and got hopelessly lost in Chicago at night. Thankfully, that particular problem was patched up by the friendly doorman who took pity on the three girls loaded down with luggage and wandering aimlessly around Michigan Avenue.

My friends, however, were none too pleased when we had a repeat experience the next day, again thanks to me. So in an attempt to make light of the situation that left us stuffed into a crowded CTA bus with no idea where we were going, I turned to the girls I was with and said the first thing that came to mind,

“Hey, it’s the experience that counts, right? We wouldn’t have any good stories to tell if we didn’t get lost, and what fun would that be?”

Miraculously, they didn’t strangle me right there.

The good times weren’t over yet, though. Our destination was Panama City Beach, and it was everything I had been warned about and more, complete with a foul motel room and drunken neighbors. A few days after we arrived, as I soliloquized about feeling like a piece of meat on display while walking down the main road to the sound of horns and catcalls, my friend turned to me said with not a little sarcasm,

“But it’s all part of the experience, right?”

I might have deserved that.

Flash forward to Marianna, and that ominous sign. The bus we were supposed to transfer to ended up coming five hours late, and with no actual station or Greyhound representative in sight, we were stranded at an Arby’s for seven hours.

Plopped on the edge of the dirty parking lot, amongst suitcases, anthills and empty Waffle House containers, we couldn’t help but laugh at the irony.

“It’s all part of the experience,” we repeated, half-joking and half-dejected.

But looking back now, I see there was a lot of truth to our mocking mantra. I mean, without the Chicago blunder, the sketchy motel room, the intoxicated sexists and the 11-hour bus trip from Panama City to Tallahassee, my memories of spring break would be nothing more than surf, sand and sun.

And what a shame that would be.