Monday, February 1, 2016

Wells Fargo 1880 Rules for Stagecoach Passengers ... And a Few of My Own

Still From John Ford's Stagecoach

In the Old West, stage travel took patience and stamina. Wells Fargo published a set of rules for passengers meant to make an unpleasant experience at least tolerable. Deadwood Magazine suggests these same rules might make modern travel more civil.
  1. Abstinence from liquor is requested, but if you must drink, share the bottle. To do otherwise makes you appear selfish and unneighborly.
  2. If ladies are present, gentlemen are urged to forego smoking cigars and pipes as the odor of same is repugnant to the Gentle Sex. Chewing tobacco is permitted but spit WITH the wind, not against it.
  3. Gentlemen must refrain from the use of rough language in the presence of ladies and children.
  4. Buffalo robes are provided for your comfort during cold weather. Hogging robes will not be tolerated and the offender will be made to ride with the driver.
  5. Don’t snore loudly while sleeping or use your fellow passenger’s shoulder for a pillow; he or she may not understand and friction may result.
  6. Firearms may be kept on your person for use in emergencies. Do not fire them for pleasure or shoot at wild animals as the sound riles the horses.
  7. In the event of runaway horses, remain calm. Leaping from the coach in panic will leave you injured, at the mercy of the elements, hostile Indians and hungry coyotes.
  8. Forbidden topics of discussion are stagecoach robberies and Indian uprisings.
  9. Gents guilty of unchivalrous behavior toward lady passengers will be put off the stage. It’s a long walk back. A word to the wise is sufficient.


In the interest of travelers everywhere, here are a few rules of my own:
  1. Play nice with the flight attendants—the rest of us want them in a good mood
  2. Use drugs and liquor lightly … or so heavily you pass out and leave others alone
  3. Turn off game sounds
  4. If you’re going to hog overhead storage, at least don’t wear a put-upon expression
  5. Armrests are community property—remember what you learned in kindergarten
  6. If you can’t remember the last time you bathed, it was too long ago
  7. Drop the F-word and add please and thank you to your vocabulary
  8. Air travel is not a nesting opportunity—resist the urge to haul along heaps of stuff
  9. Forget Mr. Rogers—you really aren’t special
Now that I’m on the subject, I’ll tell you about my most memorable airplane incident. I was stuck in a middle seat, which always makes me cranky. The man in the aisle seat came aboard and stowed his briefcase in the overhead. Suddenly, the woman in the window seat shoved me and ordered me to let her out. Before I could move, the woman yelled at the man that he had laid his briefcase on top of her fur coat. He appeared startled at her assault but politely said she couldn’t take up the whole bin by laying her coat length ways.  She immediately shoved me again and demanded to get out. I struggled to get into the aisle, but now the man blocked my exit. Yelling went back and forth and all I could think about was that I had to spend five hours crushed between two warring parties.

Just before the flight attendant worked her way to our row, the man yelled, “Lady, I can tell you what you can do with that fur. You can—”

“Don’t you say it,” she yelled back.

It looked like nothing could defuse the situation, and then a passenger about three rows back yelled, “Hey lady, the last time that fur was on an animal, it was laying in the dirt.”

The whole plane burst out in laughter. The chagrined woman retook her seat and never uttered another peep for the entire flight. I read in blissful silence.



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