I would like to dispel any notion that I am seeing the country while I work this tour. That’s like the Army propagandizing that you will see the world while serving your country. I see very little of the cities I work in. I spend the bulk of my time buried in the concrete bunkers of the venues. The worst of which is the Forum in Los Angeles. The building is like a coiled concrete snake; it swallows you into its belly and hacks out your stripped carcass when it’s finished. I spent hours lost in the bowels of that decrepit building wondering whether worker’s comp would cover the lung cancer I would eventually develop from the exposed asbestos pipes. On this tour we have several shows in a row, so I sometimes go for days without seeing daylight. When I finally surface for a day off, I’m like a mole coming out of its hole, squinting at that strange yellow orb in the sky.
Days off mean hotels, and hotels are a luxury, but touring has its own set of rules and regulations. The No. 1 rule is you can never be late to the bus the day after spending a night in a hotel. If you’re late, you get oil spotted—that’s when the bus leaves you behind. I almost fell victim to the oil spot yesterday. I slept through my alarm and never received my wake-up call from the front desk. I woke to the hotel phone ringing with my boss on the other end telling me I had 30 seconds to make it to the bus. That’s when I remembered tour rule No. 2: Always pack your suitcase the night before. My clothes were strewn everywhere. I threw what I could into my bag, accidentally jettisoning my toothbrush and makeup bag in the toilet. When I finally made it to the bus, breathless and harried, I made the mistake of bringing my bags into the front lounge instead of stashing them in the bays underneath.
The bus has its own intricate set of regulations and diplomacy. Personal belongings must be contained. Anything left in the public domain of the bus lounge is open territory. The same rule applies to sleeping—if you fall asleep anywhere other than your bunk you risk the consequences. Passing out in the front lounge usually results in permanent marker to the face or a razor to the eyebrow. The most important rule is you can never use the toilet. Even though these buses are equipped with televisions, CD players, refrigerators, and full bathrooms, very few of these amenities function. Putting toilet paper into the commode of a tour bus clogs the pipes and backs the sewage up into the bays where the luggage is stored. The temperature on the bus is always up for debate. There are two camps when it comes to bus temperature—those who believe that temperatures under 40 degrees keep germs from spreading and those who love to crank the heat, lounge about in shorts, and pretend it’s a sauna. Bus fights inevitably ensue.
Tonight I am sitting in the front lounge of the bus after the show writing my entry, and the boys are eyeing me like vultures. They see my eyelids drooping. I think my co-worker Dean has a Sharpie marker in his hand. I better make it to my bunk before it’s too late.