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You Never Know What You Might Find On These Hiking Trails

, , , , , , | Right | June 10, 2020

My dad was born in Norway but lived in Tennessee from the age of three. In the 1970s, at seventeen, he spends a summer in Norway and gets a summer job at a hiking and camping equipment store. Despite Dad being more fluent in English than Norwegian, his boss always wants to take care of the foreign customers, as he speaks German, Spanish, English, and Russian, in addition to Norwegian. One day, he comes up to Dad, slightly panicked.

Boss: “Can you help that family? I could swear they’re speaking English, but I can’t understand a single word they’re saying!”

As Dad approaches, he hears the couple speaking to their kids in one of the most backwoods Appalachian accents he’s ever heard. He decides to have fun with it.

Dad: “Well, hey, y’all! How’s everything goin’? What can I help y’all find this evenin’?”

The family looks overjoyed.

Man: “Lawdamercy, son, it sure is a blessin’ to find someone who can understand us! We been here a week and can’t nobody understand a blessed thing we say! Where you from?”

They talk, and Dad learns that the couple has won the lottery and always wanted to visit the Land of the Vikings. They’re from a city not too far from where Dad grew up.

Man: “We ain’t got any stores like this round [Town], do we?”

Dad: “Naw, the closest one is in [City four hours away]. Their prices are about twice what ours is here, and their stuff don’t hold a candle to ours, quality-wise. What all are y’all lookin’ to get?”

They end up spending the equivalent of over $1,000 in clothes, shoes, backpacking gear, climbing gear, and rafting gear, and Dad tells them where around Oslo would be best to hike with their ten- and fourteen-year-old kids. He also tells them about some fun trails back home to try.

After they’ve left, the boss comes up to Dad.

Boss: “How— What— When— How did you do that? That was more than we usually sell in a week! What language was that?”

Dad: “It was good old East Tennessean American English. The accent is one that more rural folks have in the area where I live. They’re avid hikers and just won the lottery, and it was like a breath of fresh air to have someone speak to them who could understand them and knew exactly what equipment they needed.”

Boss: “Well! I know you’ve been saving up to get that new exterior frame backpacking backpack. You’ve got, what, half saved up?”

Dad: “About that, yeah.”

Boss: “How about you give me half of what you’ve saved and we will call it even? I can’t believe you just did that!”

About thirty years later, Dad, Mom, my sister, and I are hiking at a state park in Tennessee. Dad is using that same backpack, as he still does today. We see another backpacking family taking a break, and Dad stops in shock.

Dad: “Excuse me, sir, but does that pack happen to be from [Store in Norway]?”

Hiker: “Well, yeah! My dad got it there about thirty years ago when we went there on vacation! My daughter’s using the one he got for me then! Why do you ask?”

Dad: *Long pause* “Did… Did you happen to go there ’cause your dad won the lottery?”

Hiker: *Surprised* “Uh, yeah! How’d you know?”

Dad: “I believe I am the one that sold y’all those packs! Y’all got so much stuff, my boss let me have this pack 75% off as a thank you!”

Hiker: “Oh, wow! I do remember that! That’s crazy! Hah! And you sure weren’t kidding about the quality, were you? It’s been, what, thirty years or so?”

Dad: “About that, yeah.”

The hiker told Dad about how the rest of the Norway trip went and shared some fun tales of the adventures they went on in Tennessee using the equipment Dad had sold them. They exchanged numbers, and Dad has since taught the hiker and his kids how to mountain bike. The hiker is a boat repairman and always gives Dad a good deal on servicing his boat. It’s crazy what a little serendipity and customer service will bring your way!


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