As I weave my way through life there are things that I count on. They are stepping stones in my path that I don’t worry about, like:

1) Where I am going to spend eternity.

2) That my wife will always love me.

3) That the airplane pilots know what they are doing. I get on an average of 175 flights a year.

But if I had any concern about whether the pilots stayed up all night partying or were visiting on their cell phone while we were trying to land, I think I’d start packing a parachute!


I have a friend in the entertainment business who could fly commercial, but doesn’t. He’s not comfortable putting his life in their hands, I guess. I’m philosophical about his fears. Then again, I don’t eat Italian food. I’m not sure if that’s a phobia or a preference. Maybe some Dramamine would help us both!

4) I count on my best horse bein’ steady on the course. He’s good around cows, cars, cameras, kids, corrals, dogs and wire. Though I follow the admonition to “always be ridin’ your horse,” ‘cause rattlesnake “shys” and backfire “bolts” can happen to even the best of horses.

5) I count on certain politicians, broadcasters and public figures to be there to lend continuity, whether I agree with them or not…Barbara Walters, Ralph Nader, Orion Samuelson, Mayor Daly, Sean Connery, Cotton Rosser, Bennie Beutler, Wayne Vold, Tony Bennett, Fidel Castro, Elmer Kelton, Wally McRae, Paul Harvey.

6) I count on America’s resilience. If I ever doubted that the United States has been the greatest contributor to the cause of good (as in Good vs. Evil) on Earth for the last 100 years, I would move … but where would I go?

7) I even count on the stupefying, partisan political process to continue governing us. As an old cab driver in Washington D.C. told me once, “I voted for Reagan. Next time I vote for Mondale.” I asked why. “Never let ‘em get a foothold, son, never let ‘em get a foothold.”

In contrast, there are some things I don’t count on:

1) Rain

2) Bureaucratic efficiency. From the local Motor Vehicle Office to the F.D.A. If you ever get your question answered or your problem solved on the first phone call, you should bronze your speed dial!

3) My dog. He’s trained about as well as I was when I was three, and he has the attention span of a Bartlett pear!

4) My vehicles. I’ve got a ’47, ’69, ’74, and ’05. I always buy used cars so I expect them to break down. I never leave home without checking the spare, and throwing in my jumper cables, flashlight and tool box.

Oh, one other thing I count on.

8) You. The readers of this column. To keep me honest, to hold me responsible for stepping out of line, when I need it. And to continue sending me stories about your wrecks and near disasters that compose the content of my cowboy ramblings. I couldn’t do it without you. PD