It doesn’t matter if you are black, white, yellow, or brown. Profiling is ILLEGAL in the USA. Over the past two months I’ve had a neighbor move in who swore that I was climbing in my rock climbing gym at all hours (even past midnight), simply to be intrusive and annoying to her. No that I have a lot of time to think about deviceful ways to be a jerk, I am writing this post as I feel that my experience is the tip of the iceberg for climbers in general.
After I got divorced, I moved to an apartment complex. I cleared with the staff that it would be ok for me to hang boards from the garage wall and use it as a climbing gym. I’ve lived here for 1.5 years and have not had a single complaint. Then the new neighbors moved in. Ever since, the girl, has been calling the apartment manager and even the ABQ police Dept to file complaints of “noise.” Although she could not isolate which apartment the noise was coming from, she said that it “sounded like someone climbing and using a safety rope.” I don’t use a safety rope in my garage, but moreover, I haven’t climbed in my garage since before I left for World Cups and Sochi in early January. In fact, I haven’t climbed since after I returned from Europe since I sustained a shoulder injury that I’ve been seeing the orthopedic surgeon for. This is the first time since 3 Jan, 2014, that I have climbed on my wall. The wall is pretty tame, and all I’ve been doing is working and snuggling my Bombay until my shoulder was cleared.
Long story short, I was told that I was going to be evicted if I didn’t take the wall down within 7 days. I told the apartment manager, who was willing to listen to me for long enough for me to make my case, that the noise was not coming from the plywood, and that that I was not climbing, but I would be more than happy to actually entertain the cause-effect relationship. If they did not concede, I was going to file a harassment suit against the girl/tenant making the claims as it would force me to do something that I not only didn’t want to do (take my wall down), but also would not resolve the problem, since I wasn’t the focus of the problem, but there was no evidence that I was indeed the cause.
Here’s some video to show what happened next:
Anyway, I was vindicated by climbing, but the people just kept bringing it on, even AFTER there was no more to pursue.
What I’m saying here is this: The girl saw my wall initially, and then started hearing noises, even when I was out of state, or even out of the country, and nobody was home. I was actually worried the first time because I thought that someone might be breaking into my appartment. The fact that there is no cause and effect relationship, and that these individuals made a massive jump that since I had a climbing wall, the noise must be coming from me climbing on the wall, is indeed PROFILING. Racial, prejudicial, or whatever, it’s ILLEGAL. Harassment, bullying, or otherwise, call it what the attorneys will, it ain’t cool. Just because I’m a climber, and I walk to the grocery store to get my groceries with a backpack rather than fill plastic bags and drive my car, and living a bit of a “different” lifestyle, doesn’t give anyone the right to target rock climbers like thugs. If I treated patient’s in my clinic like that, I’d not have a practice. No would I have a guide service if the same were true about how I treated guests. Just because you’re a blonde girl doesn’t mean you can’t climb hard (my most talented guest was a blonde haired girl who crushed it…all day long), or aren’t smart, or capable.
Climbers are losing ground everywhere. I fled hunting and fishing as a young man as the regulations became so strict, it was impossible to do more than dream of doing anything else.
I stood my ground today and didn’t bend. I didn’t do it for myself. Rather, I did it to make a statement. That climbers are not ok to target. I threatened a lawsuit for harassment against me and that caught everyone’s attention. I was willing to go all the way on this as I have no intention of not standing up for what’s right, not anymore. Had I not had the gumption to defend myself, I would be tearing down my wall, looking to move, and facing being evicted. Now, the management team at the apartments trusts me, and hopefully casts a good light on climbers in general. As for the kooks next door – they are leaving in 1-2 months and will likely wreak more havoc at their next destination.
I hope this inspires others to defend climbing when the offensive strikes come…in whatever form. I’ve vented and am burned out. Back to climbing!