Alumnus on the bus: UK grad and a Greyhound

By Luke Glaser

Mike Pentecost is a pretty romantic guy.

At least that’s how the story starts.

In the fall of 1990, Pentecost was a freshman at UK. His “true love” was a freshman at Wake Forest.

“We were gonna be the ones that made it forever,” Pentecost said.

To visit her, the car-less and penniless freshman knocked on doors in Donovan Hall to beg for money for bus fare.

The donations he received purchased his first ticket on the Greyhound Bus.

Unfortunately, Pentecost’s true love and he were to part ways. That love, however, found another method of transportation.

“I told myself ‘If I ever get a chance, I’m gonna get back on the bus,’” he said.

Twenty-two years later, Pentecost’s book, “Bus People: 30 Days on the Road with America’s Nomads,” was released on Amazon.

“The book centers around my 30 day journey around America on a Greyhound Bus … I don’t think most Americans have a clue who rides the bus, much less their stories,” he said.

Pentecost decided to write a book about his experiences on a Greyhound Bus because “all of us are in search of community. People who ride the bus are looking for the same thing.”

After convincing his wife that it was not a midlife crisis, Pentecost purchased a $439 “Discover America” pass and hopped on the bus.
The next 30 days were spent listening to “human, very real, very raw stories.”

The characters Pentecost met on the bus were as numerous and diverse as the cities he traveled through.

They include Art the Trucker, who was convinced Elvis is living on an island, pursuing a career in gospel music, and that Art himself was the reason President Richard Nixon canceled a trip to Kentucky.

They include a woman strung out on Percocet, who wanted Pentecost to join the “mile high club” with her.

Pentecost politely declined, but helped her paint her toenails.

And they include a driver named Donna, who told him, “My passengers are usually having a bad day. If I can do anything to change that, I’ve made a difference.”

Pentecost said one of his more memorable trysts was in Reno with a man named Scott, who coined the mystic phrase “Bus Magic.”

“That’s the elixir that lures people onto the bus,” Pentecost said. “Something better awaits them.”

Pentecost said his book is perfect for the traveling mind and spirit of the college student.

“When you go through college, there’s a prescription for ‘what comes next,’” he said. “There’s a whole world of adventure. You don’t need to rush into the plan.”

“Bus People” is on Amazon, and is available for $15.

The life lessons on the Greyhound bus were many, from the journey itself to the “bus magic” of starting a three hour conversation with the words “Where you heading?”

“The trip reminded me that I have a wondering spirit,” Pentecost said. “This is what love’s all about.”

GREAT book Mike! The stories are so unique in nature. As the old saying goes, ‘the good, the bad and the ugly’ … and you encountered each. Your writing style shares each journey with the reader and takes us on the bus with you. Greyhound … it’s a whole new world … from the riders, employees, patrons and those along the way … it’s a journey not soon to be forgotten. Totally awesome job!!!

I’m reading this book right now! It’s nice to be able to pick up a book and read from one location to the next, and when I come back to it there’s another bus stop with new people coming on board. I’m really enjoying it and it’s definitely reminding me of thankful I should be with my life.