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Metro NY Geocaching Society • View topic - Inconspicuous-ness

Inconspicuous-ness

General conversation related to Geocaching

Moderator: addisonbr

Inconspicuous-ness

Postby gerkmax » Sun Apr 19, 2009 7:11 pm

I don't want to make this a finger-pointing thread, so.... please, just keep it on topic.

This is a topic I've heard, and been a part of, that always seems to be a big issue, and one I'd like to address.

Being inconspicuous.

One of my pet peeves (not Peeves79) is how sometimes we forget that muggles are around and may be watching us searching/finding a cache. I've seen (in a group and alone) a cacher show almost no discretion when searching/finding a cache. S/he will dig around an area, or feel up around an object (fence/telephone/post/etc..) seemingly oblivious to the people around. Some cachers try to be inconspicuous when they found the cache by saying "yahtzee" (or something similar), which is good. But I've also seen the VERY obvious cacher yelling "I GOT IT!!!" and while holding the cache high in the air. I understand the exuberance at finally finding that elusive cache you may have been hunting for an hour, but we can't let muggles know about the cache.

One of the main aspects of finding a cache, as I have always understood it, is to try to maintain a cache's permanence. And making it obvious to people around the area that something is hidden there, is one sure fire way to negate that permanence.

I just wanted to get that off my chest. Thanks for listening/reading.
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Re: Inconspicuous-ness

Postby EastVillageFamily » Sun Apr 19, 2009 7:16 pm

We have always felt that stealth is part of the game.
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Re: Inconspicuous-ness

Postby Child Of Atom » Mon Apr 20, 2009 9:22 am

I learned long ago that being conspicuous is sometimes the best way to be INconspicuous. I've half joked before that the best disguise for a cacher might just be an orange vest and a clipboard. If you act like you belong there, and are doing something that is completely normal for you fewer people will pay attention. If you are being all skulky and secretive it draws MUCH more attention than just walking up and doing something. That doesn't mean that I would advise walking into the heart of a group of muggles and crawling under a bush... but I would advocate that over slipping slyly around the edges of a group and trying to peek.
Is your culture a counter-culture or an over-the-counter-culture?

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Re: Inconspicuous-ness

Postby BLAA » Mon Apr 20, 2009 4:10 pm

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Re: Inconspicuous-ness

Postby EastVillageFamily » Mon Apr 20, 2009 5:05 pm

This has always been part of the point of our caches. It is always interesting to see what lengths some cachers will go to avoid muggles. Other cachers will brazenly walk up, say, "Excuse me!" and remove the cache in front of the muggles. And of course the experienced Urban cachers will manage to remove the cache container in front of the muggle, sign the log, replace the cache, and leave, all without the muggles noticing that they have been there.

One of the first things we learned about Urban caching: a 12 year old boy can get away with almost anything, as long as no one gets hurt. By the time that boy is 14, he is suspicious just for being there.
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Re: Inconspicuous-ness

Postby gerkmax » Mon Apr 20, 2009 11:18 pm

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Re: Inconspicuous-ness

Postby EastVillageFamily » Tue Apr 21, 2009 12:50 pm

Sometimes it's best to deliberately focus your attention on something else nearby.
I have also sat and watched geocachers conduct their searches. Sometimes I go into my own stealth mode, making a fake phone call or taking a photo, and stand right next to the geocachers. It always amazes me when they make no effort to hide what they are doing, and pretend that I am not there. The worst case was the geocacher who, with me 6 feet away (phone to my head), stepped into a flower bed and began stepping on all of the plants and bushes to see if there was anything hidden under them. I quickly "hung up" my phone call, and said, "uhh, excuse me, what are you..." But by that time he had turned and run away. Later when he logged a DNF for that cache, I recognized him from one of the photos in his profile. Fortunately he seemed to just be visiting NYC.

Frustration makes cachers do strange things.
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Re: Inconspicuous-ness

Postby addisonbr » Wed Apr 22, 2009 3:49 pm

I sometimes thing we can take the stealth thing a little too far.

Up-front honesty can occasionally be better for a cache's long-term health than attempted secrecy... I don't think we're as clever as we think we are, if people are actually watching us. I heard a caching podcast once where someone described how he led a muggle to believe that he worked for the city and that his GPSr was a municipal measuring device of some sort or another. He was very pleased with himself and the interviewers were gushing over his covert genius. I don't know about you guys, but a guy acting suspiciously, telling me his GPSr was a geiger counter and pretending to work for the city would COMPLETELY freak me out. I'd be on the horn to 911 as soon as I was out of earshot.

If I ever get the sense that muggles have observed part of my search and are interested in my behavior, I usually just go over and sheepishly tell them I'm looking for a clue for an Internet puzzle hunt. They generally quit caring at the speed of nerd. (Works even better with Munchkins in tow.)

So far I have been questioned by police zero times, and have alerted zero bomb squads. Yay! I think I have a pretty good record vis-a-vis getting caches muggled, but I admit I was the last finder of both "caesars bay drive in" and "Zulu3" before they were archived, so...
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Re: Inconspicuous-ness

Postby ruthny » Wed Apr 22, 2009 4:00 pm

When you're a short cacher like I am, a tall Muggle can be a great grabby-thing tool. I've never known a cache go missing directly following the use of my favorite tool. If you choose your grabby-thing wisely, they become complicit, and usually feel like they now hold a secret, known to just a few others!
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Re: Inconspicuous-ness

Postby gerkmax » Thu Apr 23, 2009 12:16 am

That almost sounds like Ruth used the "jedi mind-trick" on them.

"Grab that container. Hand it to me. You will now forget everything you saw."
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Re: Inconspicuous-ness

Postby BLAA » Thu Apr 23, 2009 12:28 am

I think being inconspicuous is good for the muggles you can't see and talk to. We've many times told a muggle what we're up to ... and we have the same reaction as addisonbr ... "that's nice ... I'll have to look into that" ... and off they go.

I am not going to go there by saying what muggle groups are most likely to pillage a cache ... but using good coomon sense can tell you that the couple with the young baby are probably not going to come back later and steal the cache
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Re: Inconspicuous-ness

Postby gerkmax » Thu Apr 23, 2009 12:49 am

Gus and I were looking for "" up in Yonkers, which is almost on private property (as the cache listing notes), and a woman coming out of the building stopped and asked "Did you lose something?" She had that suspicious look on her face, I knew there was no good "cover", so I just came out and told her. "I'm looking for part of online game where people hide things. There's one around here somewhere." She seemed to lose her suspicion, laughed and said "You're crazy! That's just ridiculous." and she walked away, laughing.

I almost wanted to follow her and "No! I'm serious! Let me show you! This isn't ridiculous!" But then I realized that would be stupid, and continued searching.
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Re: Inconspicuous-ness

Postby spungebob » Sun Apr 26, 2009 12:56 am

Kids under 10 are a cloak of invisibility. People will let you do just about anything if you're with kids. For real busy caches I prefer the 'band-aid' method, if I see where I think it is, I'll just get it quickly, like ripping off a 'band-aid' quickly for less pain. People become real suspicious of people lurking around. One of the funniest comments I got was from a park worker who came upon me and a fellow cacher just after we had found the cache and were standing there talking to one another: (March 9, 2007 post)

http://www.geocaching.com/seek/cache_de ... y&decrypt=

That pretty much sums up the attitude of most of the people I've run into.
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Re: Inconspicuous-ness

Postby OKH » Fri Jun 05, 2009 6:46 pm

This happened, quit by accident - I'm a member of the American Legion and the logo on the blue Legion ballcap I own looks "official-ish" so coupled with the fact that I look and act like a cop and holding something that looks like a radio and people generally don't bother with me.

One of the reasons that I look and act like a cop is because I'm a retired one, so I've made a good part of my living observing while trying not to be observed and I've found that acting furtively will get you pinned out every single time. Make eye contact when you have to and act like you own the place and no one will give a second thought as to why you're there. Just my two cents.
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