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The Canine in Conversation
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a photograph of a bus with the word GREYHOUND beneath and the logo of that company above
figure 1  

 

the dog or the hound. (transportation) The Greyhound bus and, by extension, any intercity bus.reference 1

I picked this one up from a friend of mine who grew up in southern California, and now lives in Santa Cruz. While it has an affectionate quality to it, the derogatory aspect of dog is also present. As David Bradley notes in The Chaneysville Incident, bus travel is associated with lower social and economic status.

1.Haber, Tom Burns. 1965. Canine Terms Applied to Human Beings and Human Events: Part II. American Speech 40 (4): 254.

America is a classed society, regardless of naive beliefs of deluded egalitarians, the frenzied efforts of misguided liberals, the grand pronouncements of brain damaged politicians. If you doubt it consider the sanitary facilities employed in America's three modes of public long-distance transportation.

America's bus stations tend to lurk in the section of town in which pornographic materials are most easily obtained. Like airports, they are built of plastic, but it is plastic of a decidedly flimsier sort. They are reached most easily by public transportation or “gypsy” cab; except in the largest cities and the smallest towns, ordinary taxis shun them. The facilities for traveler convenience are virtually nonexistent; in lieu of a bar there is a lunch counter, which (if one can attract the wandering attention of the attendant, who is usually of gender of an airline hostess and the appearance of a train conductor) will offer up a buffet of hot dog au grease and sugar-water on the rocks. The busses are at times in good repair, at times not, but always uncomfortable. There is a single class of accommodation—fourth. Nothing is served on board; a sign in the on-board restroom cautions against drinking the water. The sanitary accommodations are much in keeping with the rest of the scene. Inside the station, the rest rooms are of a most doubtful nature; usually they are wholly or partially closed for repairs that are so long delayed and so temporary in effect that they seem mythical. The on-board accommodation is hardly better. The john, which is not even supposed to flush, is merely a seat atop a square metal holding tank; below it the curious—or perhaps “sick” is a better adjective—traveler may observe wastes of previous users swimming blissfully about like so many tropical fish.

The various degrees of civilization represented by the sanitary accommodations inevitably reflect class status that the society at large assigns to the passengers. It is no accident, then, that airline passengers are usually employed, well-dressed, and white, while train passengers (excepting the commuter) are more likely to have lower incomes, cheaper clothing, and darker skin. A randomly selected bus passenger, at least in common belief and easily observable fact, is far more than the patrons of planes or trains, likely to be: un-, partially or marginally employed; un-, partially, or cheaply dressed; in- or partially solvent; in or partially sane; non- or partially white.reference 1
2. Bradley, David. 1990. The Chaneysville Incident: a Novel. New York: Harper & Row, 6-9.
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About the illustration: Digitally collaged by the author.  
see also: The Dog (dance) Last updated: March 20, 2008
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