Bus 96 to Atlantic City

Champagne and casino chips

By Wanda Haynes

When I finally decided to retire from years of hard work as a floating secretary, becoming a tour bus escort felt like a way to merge those skills with travel. This would also help earn some extra cash to expand my retirement check.

Well, after six months of passing out day old doughnuts, settling arguments over the free door prize, and searching for lost passengers in public restrooms. My time as a tour bus escort came to a screeching halt! I was no longer able to play Nanny to a tour bus full of aging adults.
However, I had fallen in love with the freedom of the open road, and I missed the bus trips. Months later, when I read the companies itinerary and saw the trip heading to Atlantic City, I signed up immediately.

We boarded the bus at 7am and our escort Lucky was full of energy. In his younger days he was a railroad man, and he has made a seamless switch to being a singer, doughnut distributor and tour bus escort. Lucky reminded us to tip him at least 20% and for the attractive single gals to give him their phone numbers.

Our driver Rasputin sternly warned everyone that in case of an emergency he leaves the bus first, women, and the disabled last. I’ve never seen Rasputin smile, and his lack of empathy for most things is shocking! As a commercial driver he doesn’t like people or driving.

Traffic was miserable, rain came down with a vengeance, and the bathroom breaks were frequent. Especially since Rasputin threatened everyone not to use the restroom on the bus.

Finally, we reached AC and the bus went wild with cheering and clapping!

The people in AC were wearing large pinkie rings and extreme manicures, and I knew in an instant I was in the “Garden State”. The casinos are loud and brightly lit, and the slots somehow beckon you to feed them with your hard-earned money.

It’s amusing to watch people scream insults at a slot machine and kiss that same slot machine when it finally pays off.

Celebrity chefs have restaurants all over the boardwalk and in the casinos. I ate myself silly in an authentic British restaurant. The prices were sky-high and worth every shilling.

Even though I’m not a fan of a buffet, it was a part of the trip’s package, and I joined in the food fest. Everything on the buffet was delicious and of great quality, and I was full after just two plates. I made several rounds to the wine tap machines and after my speech started to slur, I called it quits.

Lucky used plastic containers for his multiple trips to the buffet. He loaded the containers with enough food to last four days. I was thoroughly impressed when he somehow managed to stuff an entire rack of spare ribs into one of the containers. He was oblivious to the other diners staring at him in disgust.

The Atlantic Aquarium is only a few miles from the casinos, and the Jitneys take you there for a small fee. The aquarium had a total of three fish and fifty turtles, and Lucky demanded a full refund due to the lack of fish.

The last day arrived, and it was time to depart the charming hospitality of Atlantic City, NJ.

We were all worn out from the wonderful adventure, and Lucky sang an out of tune version of “Happy Trails” as we headed home on bus 96. ISI

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