This past June my wife and I took a three week nearly 5,000 mile car trip going out west.
We traveled the states of Missouri, Iowa, South Dakota, Wyoming, Montana, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Arkansas and back home to Nashville, Tennessee.
One of my favorite stops was in Cody, Wyoming. Cody claims Buffalo Bill and much of his heritage. They have a very good western museum there focusing on the life and times of Buffalo Bill.
Cody also bills itself as the Rodeo Capitol of the World. In fact the month of June they have a rodeo every night. One of the nights we were there we went to the rodeo. I'm not much into rodeos but I am in to people watching and a western rodeo is full of good people watching. As we stood outside the seating area I just stood and watched the people as they were coming in. Comparing it with my Indiana background it could be folks coming in to watch a baseball or say a basketball game. All sizes, shapes and appearance of folks.
The highlight for me of the evening was I met one of the rodeo clowns. Tonight working this event there would be two clowns. Now don't be mislead by that word clown. A rodeo clown is anything but a clown. Or for me what i would think of as a fun job. A rodeo clowns main job is to protect the cowboys from the animals in which they are trying to ride. If and often the rider will be thrown (dismounted) from a horse or worst of all a bull. The clown immediately goes to work in trying to take the attention of the animal off his thrown rider.
"I was once working a rodeo by myself and there I was standing back up against the chutes knowing this particular bull was going to go out twenty or thirty feet and crack back. So here's a deal where you got to go nine-oh to that bull but you can't go until something happens. So this bull jerks and the cowboy down and rakes one of its horns right up under the cowboy's chin, and it looks like he's unconscious. The cowboy is down, the bull is stopped and I'm just standing between the two of' 'em waiting for that bull to commit himself. There are times like these when ten seconds seems like ten years, and there are times when things happen so fast, you're in and out of trouble and don't even know what happened."
Prior to the start of the rodeo that evening I met one of the rodeo clowns, Colt. Pretty appropriate name for one working the cowboy circuit. Colt told me he was twenty years old and originally from California. He looked much younger. "Colt, how long you been doin' this crazy job," I asked. With a big smile, "Oh I been doin' this ever since I graduated high school." I also remember what else he said to me, "I love this job." "Colt anyone who loves a job like this surely they have you been kicked in the head too many times for them to say 'he loves this job.'" With a big smile he said "well I have been kicked around a bit." That's twenty year old Colt's job, he travels the circuit keeping angry animals away from those who are trying to stay a top of them for eight seconds." Colt was a pleasure to meet and talk with.
That night as my wife and I sat in the stands and watched Colt "shift and weave" his way from the animals advances I thought what he had said earlier to me,"Yea, I love this job." As I watched Colt at work that night I don't think I had a moments ease. I also thought what it might be like to be the parent or in my case a grandparent, of a twenty year kid whose job is to travel the west to be a "Rodeo Clown." A job keeping angry animals away from people. I would never sleep.
When the rodeo was over as my wife and I were leaving the grounds I saw Colt. He was standing in front of the stands as a large group of youngsters were in line getting his autograph. "Colt, young man it was great to meet you it was special to watch you work. You are good at what you do, you take care of yourself and good luck." Colt then turned and said, Hey, hey Nashville, thank you and thanks for coming out tonight."
You've heard it said, "It's better to be lucky than good." Well that night as I sat watching from the stands it was evident Colt was good at his work. I hope he's always lucky.
June 7, 2017