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Metro NY Geocaching Society • View topic - But I'm not doing anything bad!

But I'm not doing anything bad!

General conversation related to Geocaching

Moderator: addisonbr

But I'm not doing anything bad!

Postby gerkmax » Fri Jan 09, 2009 3:45 pm

At Tatanka's Dinering event the other night, a few of us were talking about how sometimes while caching you get a feeling that you're doing something wrong. You feel suspicious, like someone is going to call the police on you.

Sometimes, there are caches in places where you feel you're "out of place". For example, I was looking for a certain cache, but it's in a private neighborhood, and the cache is at the end of an "alley" that's directly behind a strip of houses. So basically, I'd have to walk through a bunch of "backyards". Now, it's summertime, the neighborhood (as far as I can tell) is all white, kids are out playing, and the police have already circled the block to look at me twice.. and here they come for the third time. Do I get out of my car and search for the cache? No. I don't want to get stopped and questioned by Palm Beach police.

I placed a cache near Rucker Park called "The Goat" (GC1H6Z1). Now I know it's Harlem, and some cachers may feel "out of place" as they're white and "milling about" in a black neighborhood. And even though I was told it would hardly be looked for because "No one is coming to Harlem to get jumped while caching.", I decided to place it regardless because it's a tribute to Earl Manigault aka The Goat.

Another example, I was out in Long Island and as I started a search in a public park, the maintenance person had arrived and saw me walking to the back of the park. As I'm walking back to my car, I hear him telling someone on his cell phone "Yeah, he's walking back out now.... He's going to his car... A bunch of people... Kids... You better hurry, they're leaving."

Regardless of your race, age, or what have you... Is there something wrong with "being in the wrong neighborhood" or looking suspicious? I personally don't like being stopped and questioned, but it's not like I'm scared of it, because I'm not doing anything bad. I know I'm not white, I'm latino and in some neighborhoods that enough to raise an eyebrow or get stopped by the local police, but I TRY not to let it stop me from looking for any cache. I can't let someone else's hangup become my problem.

Anyone else have a similar experience(s)?
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Re: But I'm not doing anything bad!

Postby addisonbr » Fri Jan 09, 2009 4:19 pm

Hmm. I'm the only finder of The Goat so far, and I didn't feel uncomfortable in the least.

I can immediately recall feeling uncomfortable on a cache hunt a couple of times... One was pretty mild, in the Bronx at Five of Diamonds and I had a little fun with it in .

The other was decidedly less fun, when I looked for Waypoint 11 on . It pointed to the middle of Marcus Garvey Park, and I won't go back there again. Especially not alone, or carrying handheld electronics. The logs have reports of similar experiences, and I've heard similar unpublished stories from others. If you look for this one, just be smart about it.

(I also remember , from (since-archived) HRG Riverside reporting about a cacher's experience getting mugged (not muggled) at the cache site.)

In situations where I don't have actual safety fears - where the concern is that I'm freaking *other* people out with my suspicious behavior - I don't let it bother me too much. I'll sometimes politely approach people who seem a little uncomfortable and just flash the cache page printout and tell them I'm on a treasure hunt looking for clues and hopefully I'm not weirding them out too much (especially effective if I have one of the Munchkins with me). I don't usually even describe geocaching, nor do I have to - when confronted with "nerd cooties" most people lose interest faster than the speed of light.
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Re: But I'm not doing anything bad!

Postby gerkmax » Fri Jan 09, 2009 4:47 pm

"nerd cooties" HAHAHA! I have that too!
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Re: But I'm not doing anything bad!

Postby buttaskotch » Fri Jan 09, 2009 9:00 pm

G,

I totally understand how you fell, as a "Minority" woman I have to be careful of what I do or perceived to be doing.
I was in Coal mining area of PA last week with Hallycat, 1 cache was placed behind a police station, and another placed IN a drive thru- Hallycat wanted to go for it, but I told her that if I was seen doing something improper in this area I may face repercussions other may not. To put it bluntly, "I ain't gonna get arrested" For some Spanish Harlem or Frederick Douglass Blvd is scary, for me, I blend in (well, somewhat).
So its using common sense, doing what you feel comfortable doing, and for heaven's sake if there are police around, don't call attention to yourself
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Re: But I'm not doing anything bad!

Postby gerkmax » Fri Jan 09, 2009 10:16 pm

Sometimes I realize that I may look "out of place", regardless of my color, and I truly understand a police officer's motivations to stop and ask me a few questions. But there are times, such as the park maintenance guy (mentioned above), when the response is so... uncalled for, so over-the-top, that it screams of either racism or elitism or just plain paranoia.

I think it's just a sad state of affairs, when your first reaction to someone new or different is to overly distrust and/or automatically assume the worst.
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Re: But I'm not doing anything bad!

Postby buttaskotch » Fri Jan 09, 2009 11:38 pm

Talking about profiling, prior to 9-11, I got detained any time I flew (which was 2-3 times a month) for a search, one day I was just so frustrated I had to ask why they did what they did, they said that I was the perfect profile for a drug mule!
Now that homeland Security is looking for terrorists I guess the drug trade is proliferating, and I haven't been searched once!LOL

Butin the case with the parks worker, begs a few questions: was he observing your quest for the cache, were you walking/doing something more unusual than normal (I was once stopped in Eisenhower Park because the police officer thought I was looking for a good roost to hang myself from (?!).

Look like you are there to run, walk, bird watch, get your walkman out, or a sandwich, whatever as a cover. Then you wouldn't look (feel) as conspicuous.
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Re: But I'm not doing anything bad!

Postby halijusapa » Fri Jan 09, 2009 11:44 pm

Our one loosely related experience with this has to actually do with our hides, not our finds. Specifically, 3 of our Bronx hides, Bronx Park Memories, Spare US Another Urban Micro, and especially A Diamond in the Rough (Seton Falls). I have gotten (very occasional, not the norm) emails from cachers asking me how I could put hides in these areas and endanger their safety, especially as I'm someone with kids who should "know better". I'm sure (besides being a multi) that far less people have gone to the original A Diamond in the Rough than I expected for that reason and that is a shame because many people who have gone there have told us what a "mind opener" it was.

That is the whole point of these hides, especially Bronx Park Memories and Seton Falls. OK part of the former was to put a hide in the park across the street from where I lived until I was 4 1/2 (if you go to the listing site you'll actually see a cute picture of me and my dad near the current cache site when I was 2 1/2 if you want to be a little nosy :D), but the idea still is to show that even the "worst" of neighborhoods in NY have nice quiet areas of nature and sanctuary to amaze you if you know where to look. Of course, I honestly think there are far "worse" areas in the 5 boros than where I put these, and while I wouldn't hunt for these caches in the middle of the night, I actually think they're OK to try alone (but the more the merrier if you want to come as a group), I have gone alone for maintenance checks. Actually, I think one can safely hunt for "Spare US" late at night, it is a small industrial area mostly "cut off" from the rest of the Bronx by the Thruway and the bowling alley there is actually open 24-7 so as I once noted to someone, you're more likely to have to worry about police coming to you than your actual safety in the middle of the night.

Anyway, that's my experience. And by the way Gerkmax, in that vain, I want to say the only reason we haven't tackled your "Justice League" hides yet is the parking, not the area. I really (to give another example in the area) enjoyed exploring Inwood Hill Park, it was much more amazing than I imagined. I guess that was our "eye opener".
Last edited by halijusapa on Sat Jan 10, 2009 8:10 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: But I'm not doing anything bad!

Postby gerkmax » Sat Jan 10, 2009 12:39 am

A bit more on the park experience. I was visiting my brother out in LI, and we drove in his van, mainly because he has tags to park in certain places (as a resident). We were with the kids (his two daughters, my daughter and my son. all about 6-8 years old). So we pull into the lot, it's early on a weekend around 11am, the park is empty. the kids run to play in the playground. My brother pulls out his phone and makes a call. I start walking towards the cache. I see the maintenance van ahead of me. It must have pulled in immediately after us. The guy is in the bathroom, cleaning I guess.

I walk past the soccer field. I see that it's a path that continues, seemingly on through the park. I was around a corner, out of his sight, and I could have been just taking a walk in the park or walking around the park. The cache is on the park-side of someone's backyard fence. It took me a few minutes to find and sign the cache. I walk back out, to where my brother and the kids are. That's when I see the guy. He was already on his phone, and looking in my direction, and as I got closer, I could hear that part of his conversation. The whole thing took 15 minutes, maybe 20. At most, I was "some guy walking in the park".
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Re: But I'm not doing anything bad!

Postby buttaskotch » Sat Jan 10, 2009 11:27 pm

In the instance with the maintenace person, I would have asked if there was an issue.
You had the necessary tags, were with a large group in a public park during open hours.

You may have wanted to take a walk, or maybe he saw a serial killer that looked like you :mrgreen:
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Re: But I'm not doing anything bad!

Postby gerkmax » Sat Jan 10, 2009 11:51 pm

So now all Dominicans look like serial killers?

hahaha! j/k
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Re: But I'm not doing anything bad!

Postby halijusapa » Sun Jan 11, 2009 9:04 am

Back to the subject of some of our hides, the wildest of these emails I got was from someone (will not name except to say happily cacher is not on these forums :D ) saying that some of my locations were comprommising/putting undue pressure on his/her/their willingness to keep their 10 mile radius "complete". I really laughed at that one.
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Re: But I'm not doing anything bad!

Postby addisonbr » Sun Jan 11, 2009 10:06 am

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Re: But I'm not doing anything bad!

Postby addisonbr » Sun Jan 11, 2009 10:14 am

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Re: But I'm not doing anything bad!

Postby gerkmax » Sun Jan 11, 2009 5:09 pm

This is one reason why I'm SO glad my daughter likes caching. She is both:

1) a great distraction in that you can see people look at me then look at her then "accept" us as a "non-threat" and move on. One time, I was surveying an area to see how to best look for this cache without attracting a lot of attention, when I notice that a Parks employee is eying me. Right there, my daughter runs up to me, giving me her jacket to hold while she climbs something. i can see the Parks guy's face lighten up as if he's thinking "Ah, he's with his daughter. He's okay." and goes on his way.

And 2) she's shown an amazing ability (maybe just luck) to find a few difficult (well camo'ed) caches. There was one cache that I NEVER would have found without her. It was a small hidden-key rock. She said "Can I kick this rock?" (NOTE: This is the ONLY rock in the area she wanted kick) I said she could. Then she says "I don't think this is a rock." I look, and sure enough, it's the cache.

I think it shows a lot about people's thought processes. One man... black, white or asian, milling about in a certain area will attract attention. But a man with a child, can "fly below the radar". I know Halijusapa, being a family team, has experienced this. And I know there are areas where your skin color can attract attention, regardless of who you're with, such as black in a white neighborhood, or white in a black neighborhood. And there are certain things you can do to blend in, such as pretending to be lost and looking for an address. You could approach someone and ask a question that puts them at ease, such as "Isn't there supposed to be a park tour today?" so they feel you "have a reason to be there".

I often use social engineering to get accepted. One great way to "deal" with elderly people is to say "hello" and "good morning/afternoon". Security guards (and people who check IDs) are very susceptible to "Hey buddy! How ya doing?" They feel like they already know you, and let you pass. See a police officer? Ask him a question (such as "Is this the way to..." or confirm directions with him) and be polite and grateful ("Thank you officer. I wasn't sure.") Women with children, a big smile and a nod. Or you can empathize, "I have a daughter about the same age..."

I teach in a program that's only for women, so I have only female students, and I'm the only male on staff. But I'd like to hear more from the ladies on the board for the female perspective and their experiences in fitting in and not attracting a lot of attention.
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Re: But I'm not doing anything bad!

Postby buttaskotch » Sun Jan 11, 2009 10:59 pm

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