cowboy at 30,000 feet


He had a weather-beaten face, a big black cowboy hat, and a pack of Marlboros in his shirt pocket. Looked to be in his sixties. The man sat next to me on the flight from Vegas to Portland. He drank four screwdrivers before we touched down. He seemed familiar with one of flight attendants and told her he was on his way to Bend, Oregon to learn something about colt breakin’. She couldn’t understand the words through his heavy cowpoke drawl so he had to repeat it. “Gonna learn some new technique for breakin’ colts,” he said. He had the window seat. Occasionally he’d turn to me and say, “That’s some lake down there.” “Ain’t those mountains pretty?” I don’t know if he was playing up to a stereotype or what, but I expect that at this very moment he’s talking to a horse and thinking about his next bottle of vodka. (Wouldn’t a real cow-man drink whiskey?) He should have been on my inbound flight to Vegas because it was bucking like a wild bronco while descending towards the city. The flight attendants strapped themselves down so they wouldn’t fly around and bump the ceiling. Maybe the turbulence has something to do with the fact that the air is fairly cool a few thousand feet up but burning like a fry pan at ground level. The temperature difference must create some windy, bronco-like conditions.


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