JANUARY 25, 2010 – the whole post’s a rant!!

A solid week of rainy weather had me in a dark mood. Instead of planning the next cache hike (I HATE MUD) or even an urban cache run (too cold & wet) I ended up thinking back on my most negative muggle encounters.

If you think that caching is all positive, fun and full of smiley faces, skip the rest of this posting. I don’t want to upset you.

I firmly believe that a huge majority of muggles are oblivious to our caching activities. Of those who do notice us, many are mildly suspicious but they’re busy with what they’re doing and soon lose interest. Most of the remainder who see us don’t care. The rest are split between those who know about geocaching and those who start confrontations and/or call the authorities. I divide these last into paranoids and haters.

Encounters with paranoids:

Lemonwood Park Cache (GC1EGJR).
While caching near the main sign at a nearly vacant public park, a group of small kids ran up, surrounded me and asked what I was doing. Within 10 seconds 2 parents rushed over and told me to leave the, “children’s playground,” or they’d call the police. Anxious aunts & uncles were striding forcefully in our direction and the situation could easily have turned ugly, maybe even violent. So I left.

A Bug’s Life (GCNBA2).
While signing the log a muggle yelled from the nearest house, well over 100’ away. “What’re you doing? You’re trespassing!” I asked & he ok’d for me to approach. I briefly explained geocaching and that the cache was on COSCA property. He claimed that COSCA had deeded the property over to him and that he wanted to keep arsonists out. By then a delegation of neighbors had joined us and all wanted the cache removed. Planning to relocate the cache, I asked for the location of the property line. The muggle was vague and couldn’t point to an exact spot. Whatever…

Encounters with haters:

Taylor Yards (across L.A. River from Elysian Park) forgot which cache: I found the cache and was walking to my car in the parking lot. A group of guys was having a tailgate party. One of them yelled to me, “Hey, this ain’t Chinatown.” and all of them glared. I was only a few feet from my car so I left.

Viva Las Vegas (GC1DZX5).
On multiple weekend visits to find a cache the GPSr always zeroed in the middle of the street. Each time the same muggle and 1 to 3 of his friends was standing around nearby. Thirty seconds into first visit the main muggle shouted in mixed Spanish/English. I understood “get outta here!” I finally found the cache when no one was around. Just as I was leaving, the muggle came around the corner eating chips from a bag. He was alone and he walked silently around me to get back to his apartment complex.

Thousand Oaks (somewhere near TO Blvd & Reyes Adobe) – don’t remember cache name:
When searching a telephone pole on a residential street, NOT in front of a house, a local walked around the corner and saw me. He stopped and started complaining about “city people,” and called me an “oriental terrorist.” I told him if that’s what he believed then he should call the sheriff. He said, “don’t worry, I will,” and walked back around the corner. Strangely, the guy was obviously half Asian…It was apparently a case of self-loathing.

A hybrid paranoid / hater (s)?

Kaitlin’s First Cache (GCGV8J).
A kindly looking old muggle man seemed to be genuinely interested in my explanation of caching. The rest of the exchange went like this. “Do you live around here?” “No, in the San Fernando Valley.” “Are there geocaches there?” “Yes.” “Then why don’t you go look for those?” “Are you telling me that I’m not allowed here?” “Noooo, I can’t say that. But this park is for local residents.”

Trekking Tapo #1 (GC1WCG4).
Strangely, I had a nearly identical encounter (it MAY even have been the same guy) 4 years later in Simi. This time he ended by claiming to be a retired Sheriff who wanted to keep foreign gangs out of Simi. What could that POSSIBLY have to do with me?! The entire series of caches seemed to be along people’s backyards so I decided to skip it entirely.

YES – IT IS a rant! After remembering everything above, all at once, my B.P. is sky high. I’ll calm down during the week. In the meantime, if you’ve got a muggle experience to share, please do.


One Response to JANUARY 25, 2010 – the whole post’s a rant!!

  1. chaosmanor says:

    Hey, Ken!

    Just “found” this blog of yours; have to add it my “watchlist” 🙂

    I’ve been lucky; only rarely have I had any real interaction with geo-muggles, and most of the time, I haven’t even bothered trying to explain our game. Whenever I’ve been caching alone in a park or other public setting with others around, I’ve always worked up some story to explain my being there. Being an amateur botanist helps a lot; I can talk for hours about the minutiae of plant morphology, diseases, etc, enough to cause almost anyone’s eyes to glaze over, leaving them staggering away. I’ve also found a clipboard with a few sheets of paper to be a marvelous deflective tool: “He must be doing something official.” Works every time 😉

    Being a “Man of a Certain Age” does, however, have its challenges, as far as caching in parks goes. We are automatically assumed to be up to no good if we walk into a public park; for which we have likely helped pay to build and to maintain, through our taxes. It really isn’t the fault of parents of young children; we live in suspicious times, and there have been enough cases of real child abuse, abduction, etc. to justify a little paranoia, or at least wariness. Still, public parks are public, and unless they are signed as being only for the locals, anyone has the right to be in them. I’ve only once been accosted for being in a public park when youngsters were around; I was asked to leave, I asked what the problem was, I was told that I was too close to the playground (I was more than 200 feet away), I asked if I had made any action that caused her to think that I was a seedy character, she said that she just didn’t like me being that close, so I told her to call the police, and we would let *them* settle the matter. She decided not to do that, but I told her that, in the spirit of reasonableness, I would sit on the other side of the picnic table, with my back to the playground, but that I wanted her to reconsider her attitude a little: if she kept her eyes on her own kids rather than on the rest of park, the odds of anything happening were pretty slim. She got a little huffy at that, but she didn’t bother me any more. Can’t remember if I got the cache, or not.

    A Bug’s Life: I remember that cache. I found it a couple of months before you did, and I had a nice chat with a woman who owned the house on the street at the northeast end of it. Whoever you talked to was an idiot. The cache was definitely on COSCA land, right at the north edge of the farthest lot, and it still *is* COSCA land. The real issue was the access point. That back lot at the north end of Denver Springs Road *is* privately owned, and the use trail that runs from the low wall along the road is *not* COSCA-maintained. In fact, that trail actually cuts across the lot of the house of the woman I talked to, but she didn’t seem to mind; she was just curious what I was doing. Residents in the area cut that “trail”, so as to gain access to the COSCA land. For some bizarre reason, when the homes were built, no public access to the open space was provided, and the owner of that back plot has (so I am told) refused to give or sell the land for an access point, but also has declined to build on it, either. Of course, looking at the plat map, that back lot doesn’t actually touch the street: access would be by an easement along the boundary of two the two lots due south of it, a set-up that is actually rather common, but which I’ve never understood. Gordon is right, though: it’s an unwinnable fight, caused by the recalcitrance of one property owner. But you were definitely in the right.

    As for racism, I’ve gotten the same sort of vibe in Black and Hispanic areas. I rarely go caching in such, because I don’t just want to hassle with it, but there are some great virtuals in places like Inglewood and Watts, so I/we occasionally find ourselves in areas where we usually won’t go. Amazingly, for every person who gives us the evil eye, a dozen or more are happy to tell us all about whatever we’re there to see. We had a great experience at the Watts Towers, for example. Granted, the locals are used to the tourists, but they don’t *have* to be outgoing about it. I do recall once being “out of my element”, as it were, and while I was looking for some urban micro or other, a big black guy called out something like, “Hey, Man, are you lost?” I turned and said that I didn’t think so, but I might be, and he laughed. Turned out he was just making sure that I wasn’t really lost, wanted to make sure I didn’t walk into something I couldn’t handle. Really nice guy, so I explained the game (one of the rare times I’ve done that), and he thought it was pretty cool. He even helped me look, and he came up with the cache, too 😀 Who knows? He might even have joined! I try to use humor whenever I can; it defuses most confrontations, and with the ones it doesn’t, I just walk away. I have found that most suspicious people don’t want an explanation, they just want whatever they don’t like to go away. Small lives they lead 😦

    It’s sad that so many people assume the worst, but I’ve come to expect that from the Moral Majority-types, which I find highly ironic. They are often (but not always) the first to accuse others, and the last to accept their own failings.

    And a minor Point of Order: the area around Thousand Oaks Blvd. and Reyes Adobe is in Agoura Hills, not T.O. I have a number of issues with the City of Thousand Oaks, chief among them the idiotic way that the traffic signals on Moorpark road just north of the freeway make life hard on drivers, no matter which they are traveling, but I’ve generally found the residents of the city to be a fairly tolerant bunch. Agoura, on the other hand, is a lot more exclusive, in several meanings of the term. I don’t care for it much, to be honest :-p

    Now to dig down through your other posts 🙂

    Jim, the other half of chaosmanor

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