Last week, two Bwoggers went on the ultimate journey: one of solidarity, strength, and ultimately survival. Join Jake Tibbetts and Sophie Tobin as they document their 44 hours spent together traveling to Ohio and back via bus, spending 22 total hours in their destination, Columbus, for an activist mission that turned out to be so much more than just that.
We open our journey on a Thursday morning brimming with hope and promise. Our protagonists, Tibbetts and Tobin (along with two non-Bwoggers/fellow Columbia/Barnard students, Meghan Brophy, and Vanessa Álvarez), were armed and ready for the journey to come, although one may have been a bit more excited than the other. Tobin, a lifelong native to Columbus, was thrilled that their activist mission with Student-Worker Solidarity was taking place in her hometown. Tibbetts was… excited to nap on the bus.
The itinerary provided by the organization was short, simple, and straightforward: depart by 11:30 on Thursday morning, arrive within nine hours, sleep in the quarters provided, wake up on Friday morning to protest the heinous organization known as Wendy’s, and finally depart by 9pm Friday evening to return early Saturday morning. Naturally, none of this went perfectly according to plan. Here’s what actually happened:
Day One: Thursday
11:30am: Everyone (about 16 students from schools in the NYC area) has boarded the bus, except all are waiting on one person. Apparently, she has no phone and is “on the subway somewhere,” coming all the way from Brooklyn. Pictured are Tobin and Tibbitts, ready to roll.
11:45am: Somehow the girl got ahold of the people in charge to tell them that she’s no longer coming on the trip. For whatever reason, no one questions this. Soon after, they are careening through Harlem on a surprisingly comfortable charter bus.
12:45pm: They make it to Montclair, New Jersey. Montclair, they are told, is home to a restaurant dedicated solely to cheese. (They would later find out that this is simply not true.) They pick up a gaggle of very chipper high school students, as well as a fifty-something-year-old old-school anti-fascist punk dude, who looks uncannily like Tibbetts’s uncle. (Wait… who are we kidding? He just looks like how Tibbetts will look if he ends up being an uncle.) Surely this man will protect us if, or when, danger comes our way. More to come on that later.
1:00pm: All activists are all aboard the bus. It is now time for us to get to know the other folks who are brave enough to venture out into the wilderness (by which, of course, I mean a city with a population of nearly one million… but it’s located in the ~heartland~, which effectively means it’s disconnected from society). (Side note: Tobin, a native Ohioan, is watching Tibbetts type this and DARING him to diss the Buckeye State.)
Everyone takes turns answering three essential questions: which fruit/vegetable you’d be and why, which bagel you’d be and why, and of course, if you had the power to squirt anything out of your nipples, what you would choose and why. (Tibbetts answered “passionfruit/everything with scallion cream cheese/clam chowder, in case you were curious. Tobin cannot remember what she said, but she would like to give a special shoutout to Dave from CUNY, who answered the nipple question with simply, “Windex.”)
It should be noted that we are still in New Jersey.
1:45pm: Our bus driver stops at Whole Foods and buys a single bottle of water, despite the fact that there are about 96 bottles of water on the bus. This man is clearly much smarter than the rest of us. He knows what it takes to survive.
2:00pm: They finally depart, preparing to leave cheese-less Montclair behind. Tobin is dying of a sinus infection and probably a fever. This does not stop her from offering everyone sips of her coffee, for she is a quintessential Midwesterner who is constantly offering people things. She secretly hopes she did not infect anyone, but is glad she was able to provide some caffeine… for survival.
Tibbetts is already dying of hunger, despite having had a large breakfast roughly three hours before. He stuffs his face with multiple gingerbread men, two marshmallow Milanos, multiple handfuls of Sun Chips, and 1,200 calories worth of granola. Alas, this does nothing to fill him up. He goes to the front of the bus and steals some vanilla meringue cookies. You know. For survival.
2:01pm: Pretty much as soon as the bus starts moving, Tobin falls into a sleep sounder than death itself. This is a hibernation tactic utilized by only the greatest survivalists of our time, and definitely not a result of her sinus infection.
5:00pm: Tobin wakes up and eats her pre-packaged Panera meal. She saves the salad for later. Eventually, it is commandeered by Tibbetts. Tibbetts knows what it takes to survive.
6:00pm: In Snow Shoe, PA, Tibbetts enters Hall’s Market, a grocery store, hardware store, post office, and Subway. To quote Buddy the Elf, “it smells like mushrooms, and everyone looks like they want to hurt me,” he thinks to himself. He buys a two-liter bottle of diet root beer, simply because it was the same price as a sixteen-ounce bottle. He drinks all of it. He feels like this is the end. His life flashes before his eyes.
9:00pm: In Ohio, right outside of Akron, the gang stops at a gas station. Tibbetts is greeted by a sign reminding him that Ohio is an open-carry state. His Massachusetts-bred ass does not know what to make of this. He sees a T-shirt that reads “If you don’t like this, then LEAVE,” situated around an American flag. He considers buying it for purposes of irony. He ultimately decides against that.
9:30pm: At this point, our brains are completely broken and they’re chanting, “BOoOOoYCOTT! WEeeeEEeNDY’S!” to the tune of Gwen Stefani’s “The Sweet Escape” (you know, the “wooooohoooo, EEEEEHOOOO” part). Other iconic moments include the entire bus of 17-20 year-olds (aside from Uncle Badass) screaming along to Miley Cyrus’s “The Climb,” and other hits.
10:30pm: At long last, they made it to The Ohio State University. Tobin immediately drags the foursome to her best friend’s dorm (they literally just walked right in, OSU security what’s good?) for a brief reunion. Cue Tobin having the surreal experience of watching her high school friends interact with her college friends in her hometown.
11:30pm: They refuse to sleep in the wilderness, otherwise known as the floor of a church, when the comfort of Tobin’s childhood suburb awaits us.
1:00am: After enjoying a shower that didn’t require her to wear slides, Tobin crawls into bed and enjoys watching Vanessa scroll through what the gang referred to as “yee yee Tinder.” Not all Ohio Tinder is “yee yee,” however, you know it when you see it.
2:00am: Slumber beckons. Tomorrow will bring its own new set of challenges.
Day Two: Friday
8:30am: After the most restful sleep in the history of mankind, the gang is ready to start the day. Tobin’s mom serves us the breakfast of champions: coffee paired with Rice Krispy Treats. Fueled and ready, they embark on the drive back to campus.
11:00am: They make it downtown. They missed the 7:30am breakfast at the church, so they do what they need to do to survive: get waffles.
12:00pm: They arrive at Goodale Park, where they meet up with other activists. Tibbetts steps in dog shit. He heads to the bathroom to wash his shoes in the sink. Multiple people walk in and see this. If he had any self-respect, he would feel embarrassed. Luckily, he doesn’t.
1:00pm: The group begins rallying and marching. Tobin’s and Tibbetts’s comrade finds herself parading a puppet around. Eventually, Tibbetts and Tobin abandon the group to go to a Kroger in order to use the bathroom and get coffee. Again, for survival’s sake.
3:30pm: The march wraps up outside of the office of the president of Ohio State. It is now time for the group to begin making their way back to civilization. Tibbetts considers getting chili from Wendy’s, the corporation that the gang traveled to Ohio in order to protest.
The inappropriateness of this consideration is compounded by the fact that it is a Friday during Lent and Tibbetts is a practicing Catholic. He sadly shelves his plans for chili.
4:00pm: One of Tobin’s and Tibbetts’s fellow activists sees a pay-per-ride scooter, boards said scooter, and rides it for roughly 250 feet. Its alarm is going off the entire time, as she did not pay for it. Nobody really says anything about it.
5:30pm: After recharging for a while back at the Methodist church, Tibbetts, Tobin, and their two fellow BC/CU activists decide to get tattoos. They travel to a tattoo shop roughly a mile away and wait for their turn. The tattoo artist begins saying some weird and offensive things while tattooing Tobin and the others (but no one could hear what he was saying over the tattoo gun, besides the person getting tattooed), making all four feel incredibly uncomfortable. Just to be clear: HE WAS SAYING THIS SHIT WHILE TATTOOING US.
On our way out, after getting our tattoos (for the record, Tobin got a carnation, Tibbetts got a minimalist album cover design, and one of the others GOT A TATTOO OF THE LOGO OF THE CLUB THAT THEY’RE ALL IN EXCUSE ME WHAT THE FUCK LMAO), they notice a sticker for Micetrap Records, a now-defunct neo-Nazi/white supremacist punk label, on the artist’s mirror. Yikes. YIKES. Y I K E S.
8:00pm: The group decides to stop at a Buffalo Wild Wings for dinner, despite the fact that one of them is a vegetarian. Tibbetts burns his mouth on his hot barbecue boneless wings, because they are, to quote him, “way too spicy.” Amateur. He also tries the garlic wings, which he also declares have “too much kick.” It was fucking garlic, Jake.
Multiple members of the group cry, partly as a result of stress following the tattoo incident and partly as a result of exhaustion.
9:00pm: After arriving back at the church, the gang walks into some Latinx festival, a convivia. It seems to be wrapping up, with only twenty or so people taking part in festivities, but it is still incredibly lively. “As if this weren’t already a fever dream,” Tibbetts sassily remarks.
9:15pm: The four pals tell Uncle Antifa about the tattoo incident. He casually says that he’ll consider doxxing the artist. It turns out our new favorite uncle figure is a well-known socialist politician. He has an entire Wikipedia page dedicated to him. God bless.
9:30pm: The bus fails to leave on time again. The foursome briefly ponders visiting an 18+ gay nightclub. Their dreams are dashed when one of them realizes that she forgot her ID.
9:45pm: Tibbetts, sleep-deprived, finds a piano and starts playing/singing “Shallow,” the hit song from A Star is Born. Tobin joins in. It is very strange but slightly romantic. Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga are quaking.
10:30pm: Finally. The group makes its way onto the bus.
12:00am: Tibbetts tries to find a comfortable position to sleep in. He fails over and over and over again. (That’s the story of his life).
1:00am: The bus driver does not know how temperature works or what it means to be comfortable. He blasts the AC during the night. Tibbetts almost dies of hypothermia.
Tobin crawls to the front of the bus multiple times to plead with him to turn up the heat. The man does not comply. Tobin resigns to sleeping in her coat that even Manhattan winds can’t penetrate. Her teeth chatter. She craves death and the sweet release it offers.
2:00am: Tibbetts’s back hurts. He almost wishes the cold would take him.
9:30am: The gang wakes up and finds themselves back in New York. They survived. Mostly. Tobin immediately stumbles back to her dorm and sleeps until 8:00pm. Yes, you read that correctly. 8:00pm. Tibbetts, meanwhile, runs to Ferris and eats four bowls of Raisin Bran. The carb overload should kill him. Alas, it does not.
Photos aka proof we didn’t make this shit up via Sophie Tobin.