Here I am at an unnamed cache. Story below.
I recently had 3/4 of GAIN Academy and a friend of theirs out and about. Midafternoon, weekday. We hit a couple urban geocaches and had an encounter with a neighbor. I've been thinking about the incident for a while, and since this woman did not share her thoughts, I really do not know what her purpose was in approaching us. The situation was like this:
The kids and I are walking along a ridge, which was the top of a berm planted with trees. On one side of the berm is a building and parking lot. On the other side is wooden fencing. The fence separates the building from the backyards of a neighborhood. Some yards had gates in the fence.
We're tootling along in the hot sun, finding a shady spot to sit and sign the log book, when a gal comes out from behind a fence.
Staccato voice. "What are you doing here?" Her voice is not friendly at all. I think we were clearly not casing the neighborhood with the intent of burglarizing. We were looking in the trees. I answered, "We are geocaching."
Her voice remained unchanged. "What's that?"
"It's a game. You get coordinates for a treasure hunt, then go to the coordinates and find it."
"Where do they come from?"
"The location with the coordinates come from the geocaching website. This cache has been here (I look at the top of the logbook)....since last March."
Longer pause than in the past. "Are other people coming?"
"Well, anyone can play the game. It's self-regulating, so people finding the cache report and let everyone know if the container is still here to find, if it's missing, logbook is wet, etc."
"N" inserts that some people are nutty about the finding caches, and names a player as an example. I respond to him loudly (so that the neighbor and the friend could hear) that the player in question was third person to find the cache. "N" of GAIN and I were sincerely as friendly as we could be -- friendly between ourselves, friendly to her. She wasn't warming up to us or the hobby. This continued for two more minutes, ending with her abruptly leaving, no good byes. And she never got physically close to us to see the container or log book, despite our attempts to engage her.
Did we convert her to the sport? I doubt it. Is she concerned about her safety? Probably, but now she has an idea of what to expect -- that we aren't coming after her, her property, or her family. Should we use more stealth with urban caches? The answer will always be yes, but it leads to: Should the hiders design different caches or choose different hiding places? Again, the answer will probably always be yes, but what about the lovable cache quality of "the unknown." The variety of hiding spots and situations make the sport (hobby?) awesome. I don't think anything should change.
We did the best we could and that's all we can do.