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…As in: “Man, that Matt Aiken sure does seem like he’s not a con artist.”
Oh yeah.
That’s the stuff.
I suppose that’s because lately I’ve felt kind of like a con artist. I’m not! Really I’m not. But in saying that, I kind of sound like a con-artist right?
It’s just that I’m running a Web-magazine named Traveling Sasquatch. And while I’m striving for legitimacy, the jaunty name seems to throw people off sometimes.
“Hey this is Matt with Traveling Sasquatch,” I said the other day as I called a local hiker/writer. “How you doing?”
There was a good three seconds of silence that felt much longer.
“Um, we’re a web site,” I said, “an online magazine that deals just with the A.T. and–”
It was too late. I’d already lost him.
I might as well have said ‘Hey, I’m Matt from the Giggling Leprechaun.” Or “I’m Matt from the Prancing Unicorn.”
As a result, when interviewing Jennifer Pharr Davis a few weeks ago, I stopped short of introducing myself fully.
I just couldn’t do it.
Instead I said “Hey this is Matt-” And hoped that she either remembered our email exchange from a few days ago or had never before met a person with such an exotic sounding name.
Things became a little more complicated last month when I decided to cover the back-pack fest at Amicalola Falls.
I knew I would want to interview several people. I also knew I would want to take pictures of several people. And I worried this might frighten those several people.
There’s nothing like a strange man with a camera to unsettle a crowd. Though that’s probably a reasonable fear.
But then it hit me.
The answer to all my legitimacy issues.
The lanyard.
Yes, nothing says “I have every right to be here” like a lanyard.
There’s just something about the casual placement of credentials on your chest that makes you look very official.
It’s almost like the Superman logo‚Ķof business expos.
So the night before the fest I took a couple Traveling Sasquatch stickers, stuck them to cardboard and attached them to my actual day-job press-pass lanyard.
Suddenly, I looked like I knew what I was doing.
The next day I felt official enough to go up to the nearest Amicolala Falls Park Ranger and introduce myself properly.
“Hello,” I said. “I’m Matt from Traveling Sasquatch.”
And I pointed to the lanyard.
She looked impressed. Or at least not suspicious.
“Great!” she said. “Do you want to talk to the crowd after the next seminar?”
That’s right, I looked respectable enough to address a group of real live hikers.
Was it because that lady was just extra nice?
Or was it because of the lanyard?
Ok maybe it was the lady.
But either way. No one seemed to think I was a con-artist.
Which I’m not.
I have credentials.
But if someone calls from The Prancing Unicorn, I can’t vouch for them.

[by Matt Aiken]

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