When I met Shane, I had reached the 12-hour mark on the California Zephyr, and we were probably somewhere in between Winnemucca and Elko, Nevada. It didn’t matter where we were; it was dark outside, leaving everyone in the observation car with nothing to look at save their own reflections.

Shane saunters out of the dining car, burping and commenting on the food, all the while drinking Snakebite and Coca-cola out of a giant plastic cup. I have no idea what Snakebite is, just that he drinks it with fervor and refills his cup many times. I drink my beer and listen to him talk. Shane likes to talk. He likes to talk about the train, he likes to talk about his old lady, and he likes to talk about oil-rigging. Shane likes to say things like this:

“When you’re working with guys whose collective IQs are equivalent to the ambient air temperature in a Wyoming blizzard, then you’ll know what I’m dealing with.”

(When I see Shane the next morning, he’s exchanged his plastic cup for two pints of milk, “to calm the indigestion.”)

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