His Hat Said "Leave Me Alone"

Asked an old man in a "Leave Me Alone" hat if I could share his table at SeaTac.

"Sure," he said, "I'll behave."

So I did, and because I never let a sign - or hat - boss me around, asked if he was heading out or heading home.

Home, it turns out, which is Missoula, or rather, the hills just north of Missoula. Turns out he ferries vehicles part-time (he's retired now) from Eastern Montana out to Seattle, then catches flights back. One more round, and he was taking some time off and heading to Durango, CO.

I mentioned I'd run (I fibbed, I ran some) a marathon in Pagosa Springs, nearly next door as we count things in the West.

He asked if I had ever rode the narrow gauge train from Durango to Silverton. I hadn't. He had advice. Take the trip, it was worth the time, and sit in the last car. It was open and you might get a few cinders in the eyes but the views were spectacular. Then dinner up Bar D Chuckwagon and make sure to catch the show.

Mentioned that I had a young lady I coached years ago headed to Silverton.

"Yep," he agreed, "mostly college kids working the line."

His son is a firefighter down that way. When one of the big fires hit, and everyone pulled out, the folks that run the Bar D didn't. Fire department came in, the restaurant lost a single tree. Firefighters ate free for a bit, because that's how things work.

The man running the restaurant, according to the guy in the hat, was "gettin' old, gotta be pushing 90." Man in the hat had to be at least 75. "He's a stubborn one." Big grin.

He's probably not the only one, I thought.

Had to go catch my flight, so I said goodbye to the cool old dude.

Glad I ignored the hat.