Every thru hiker develops certain skills while out here in the woods. Perhaps the most important skill - more important than cooking, knot tying, or pitching ones tent - is yogi-ing. Yogi-ing is the ability of a thru hiker to ascertain certain goods, services, or favors from muggles. This includes but is not limited to the following: nabbing snacks from day hikers, getting a free meal at a diner, securing a ride across town, or even receiving a free place to stay. I've seen some impressive yogi-ing on this trip. I once saw one of my favorite hikers, Violet, get an entire table of thru hikers' bill footed at a BBQ joint. The bill was easily over 150. Poor guy. He just got too sucked in to Violet's personable nature and never saw it coming. I yogi-ed my way into some bananas just today on the trail. Boy Scouts sure do love meeting an Eagle Scout thru-hiker :).
Now there are all different kinds of techniques a yogi-er may use on his or most likely, her (girls are particularly effective yogi-ers) victim. Some yogi-ers play the pitiful card. Others dig deep and turn on their charm and charisma. Others still may tell a funny story, be super polite, flirt, or down right beg. However, there is one yogi-er that is the master of them all. And that master is Red Specs.
Red Specs only has one strategy - he only needs one strategy. He Germans his victims to death. It's bold, it's gutsy...it's down right beautiful to watch. One time Red Specs yogi-ed his way into a closed library. The poor librarian unlocked the door, let him in, and turned on a computer for him before she ever knew what hit her. And you should see him ask for rides outside Walmart....good lord. The best bit of yogi-ing I've seen was just a few days ago at the Travel Inn in Wind Gap, PA. We are sitting outside the hotel when Red Specs turn to me and says, "Breeze, watch as I use my teerrrribblle English to get a good price on our room." He then gives me a wink and walks into the office.
Please read the following in your best German accent:
"Hello hi good morning my name is Red Specs, I AT thru-hiker, I come from Germany! Yes I would like to stay in room, is possible?!"
The poor Indian lady looked like she had been hit by a bus. Without allowing her to respond, Red Specs continues.
"My English not so good. Please speak as if I were four. I do not often stay in hostel (he knows they are called hotels by the way). I often construct my tent in the woods, sleep in the rain and the bugs and the heat. I walk all day, I walk from Georgia, and I am verrrrrryyyy weary and would much like bed tonight, is possible? How much for room, yes?"
The hotel lady finally responds in her Indian accent. "The weekend rate is 85 for a double." Red Specs takes back over.
"Yes, yes, 85, ok you see we are AT thru hikers, we don't have much, ummmm.... (looks at me for fake help)..." "Money," I spit out, trying to hold it together. "Ah, yes, muuney, and we have 3 in our party. A place to sleep and shower would be very, very wonderful. Are there towels in the rooms?"
"Yes, there are towels in the room," the poor lady manages to get out before Red Specs starts talking again.
"Ahh yes, wonderful, very good, towels are very nice. We don't have towels with us because of the weight of our packs. Already very heavy you see. How much for the room again. There are 3 in our party, yes."
"Well, the rate is 85 on the weekends," she stammers, beginning to show weakness. Red Specs strikes.
"65, you say? 65 is very reasonable I think! I walk here from trail, no ride you see. Feet very sore. I only wish to sleep in nice bed, is possible?
"Ok, ok 65 for room with 3 beds for you," the hotel worker sighs.
"Ahh, wonderful! Thank you very much!"
Red Specs had just yogi-ed his way from a double bed room for 85 to a triple bed room for 65. He smiled and nudged me with his elbow as we walked to our room. "Special German rate for my terrrriiiibbbllleeee English," he says as he beams at me with pride.
The people you meet on this trial are amazing. Also, please note that this blog post is meant to be satire. We don't view you normal folks as victims. Rather, most people are delighted to chat with a thru hiker and look for ways to help whenever or however they can. But that doesn't mean I don't smile extra big at town people as I pass them on the sidewalk or on trail :). In other news, today is my 4 month anniversary on the Appalachian Trail! 4 whole months and still going strong!