CAT Bus Cruisin'
This article originally appeared in The Tiger on October 6, 2006 | PRINT

It is about 11:20 pm on a Thursday night, and a whole troop of blurry-eyed educational zealots shuffle onto the CAT Red Route bus. They stare straight forward, eyes scorched from hours of starring at text books, keeping their mouths closed and hands in their laps. They wear burgeoning backpacks and hoodies to help shelter them from the surprising cold of Clemson nights near the beginning of fall. They all congregate in the empty seats near the front of the bus, close to where they embarked, and far away from the beautiful chaos happening in the rear seats.

We decided to take a challenge and do what only a few would attempted: spend the night on the CAT Bus. And what better night to pick than Thursday night? Surely there won't be any drunk students out and about that night. Yet, even before midnight, we were greeted with a character we will call Drunky McWifebeater.

In the back of the bus, strewn across about four rows, is a group of good 'ole boys who are very excited about their prospects for fun in Tiger Town before a college football weekend. They carouse and yell barely intelligible phrases, much to the delight of almost everyone. Honestly, if one can appreciate the drunken antics of strangers after studying for hours, then you have at least embarked upon the road to being a well-adjusted individual. However, the odor that emitted from Drunky and his amigos was not so enjoyable.

"You wearing white after labor day? You the devil!" Drunky declared, in a combination slur/scream that we will call a "scur." His friend put a hand on his shoulder and pointed out that he is mistaken and that he is, in fact, not the devil. Not fully satisfied, the damning exclamations continue on and off for a few minutes before the happy drunks find a spot downtown to get back to the night's business. "I'll be back," Drunky happily scurred.

The students on the bus snicker quietly as their boisterous colleagues attempt to amble to the grey blob just off the bus steps that sober people call the sidewalk. Even Daniel White, bus driving hero of the twilight, has to chime in over the custom speakers: "I think we got rid of the devil," he chuckled.

We are leaving Tiger Town now and are approaching the lines of apartment complexes that wait to receive their tenants. After dropping off all of the other riders, we are the only ones left on the bus, so we introduce ourselves to bus driver extraordinaire, Mr. White. He is a middle-aged man who enjoys his job, his family and his hobbies. He loves Cher and has attended three of her Farewell Tours with his entire family. He also loves his Great Danes, of which he has three. He also has another dog which he has affectionately termed the "super-mutt." White listens to the kind of music that one would hope a bus driver would rock out to: Zeppelin and Skynard and Jefferson Airplane. In short, he is a good, solid guy who has a job that fulfills a very important community service: public transportation. His job keeps drunk drivers off the road, gets workers home safely and stops freshman from learning the dangers of the night the hard way. He talks quickly about his respect for the management at Clemson and tells wild stories about the rowdy behavior on Saturdays and the advanced technology of the "bodily fluid clean-up kit."

As we tagged along for his route, we found out that around 1:30 a.m., when no one is on the bus, that things get really boring. And by really boring, we mean that we just drive around the back roads of Central, looking for lost, drunk sorority girls (which we found a smorgasbord of).

Come around 2 a.m., though, when the bars downtown started to close, things began to pick up. Not only did we find out that Drunky McWifebeater has a lot of relatives (including Mullet Magee, Cletus the Toothless Wonder and the random guy who passes out outside of Tiger Town Tavern and smells like your grandma's musty attic). Downtown's aroma of beer, vomit and urine was guaranteed to wake up even the sleepiest of CAT Bus riders, and we were entertained the rest of the night by people who kept asking if we'd like to come to the party … in their pants.

We'll close with a plea: Don't ever let anyone tell you that the 24-hour CAT Bus system is unnecessary. It is apparent that it provides an essential mode of transportation to all kinds of Clemson area residents and, on some nights, can even provide a little bit of entertainment for them, too.

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