The Right Look
Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. SD -
Holiday Inn and a lot of other hotels and motels serve up a free breakfast, and I have discovered a foolproof, hassle-free scheme to eat for free if you’re hungry and broke.
Park around to the side, as if you’re actually staying there, wet your hair, affect the air of a well-rested person on vacation who needs to check out soon and get back on the road, and go eat.
You will look like you just got out of the shower, and in all cases, the people who do the evening check-in aren’t the same staff behind the counter in the morning, so they haven’t the vaguest idea of who you are or what room you’re not in. After a quick glance at your wet head, they will automatically assume you are a guest.
If possible, enter so you pass an elevator or down a hallway so your transit past the desk will appear normal. Don’t make eye contact. Keep focused on the bagels and orange juice. A newspaper or cell phone are excellent props.
When visiting the VA hospital, especially for a psychiatric appointment, it is important to stop shaving about three or four days in advance. Louie agrees.
Wear the same clothes you wore yesterday, and if permeated by the smoke of a sweat lodge fire, all the better. Brush your teeth, but don’t shower. And if you have the lingering scent of sweat lodge and cedar on your skin, that’s great.
Don’t appear too upbeat, coherent, or functional. They may become suspicious. Act nervous about the visit, and disoriented in the hallways, asking directions frequently. There should be no confusion between you and the staff. At the canteen, eat alone.
Shake hands or greet all the old WWII and Korea vets if they look at you. Many will not, and may seem closed off to the outside world. Do not be offended if all the other patients seem withdrawn.
Tell the guys from Vietnam, ‘Welcome Home. I’m glad you made it.’ Say the same thing to the young guys from Iraq and Afghanistan.
At some point during the talk with the doctor, ask if it’s all right to ‘smoke in here’, which he will say it is not, and ask for the strongest meds they’ve got. The other stuff they gave you isn’t working, and makes everything too lucid.
Maybe you won’t have to act. Maybe it’s the real you.