Dangerous Hobby ?
So, I've gotten into geocaching. A nice modern-day treasure hunting game going on all over the world.
So yesterday I decide to check on one particular cache in a very isolated part of the city. It's on the western shore of Manhattan, a short distance north of the George Washington Bridge. Due to the railroad tracks, there are only two ways to get to this location. One approach is from the south, near the GWB but you have to climb along the rocks, or take a chance and cross the tracks where some Amtrak trains come along VERY fast.
The other approach is much longer, but it's a walkable path from the north, through a gate at the west end of Dyckman, near the marina. Now it's kind of scary walking along that path, as there are homeless people living along the shore. You just know that illicit transactions are happening in the bushes and along the shore as well, such as: drug deals, prostitution, stabbings, robbery, rape... but hey, this is NYC. We know this stuff happens all the time. I took the Dyckman path the first time I check for this cache, and decided that I'd come up from the south next time (because I didn't find it).
So when I went back to check for this cache again, I used the approach from the south to avoid "the local characters".
I climb over a few rocks, walked though a few holes in the fence, and there I am at the location. I'm searching around waiting for the coordinates on my GPS receiver to stop bouncing when I notice someone else on the rocks, just south of me, about 20 feet away. I sit down to play off like I'm just looking for a quiet spot to sit and hang out.
The guy climbs a few rocks closer. He's now about 12-15 feet away.
He's appears to be in his early 30's, latino, with clean stylized facial hair, light scar down his cheek, wearing a loose white shirt, long Burberry shorts, some jewelry, clean white sneakers... obviously not a homeless person. He has a twig in his hand, tapping at a branch, nonchalantly looking around, but still looking at me sideways. I'm trying not to stare at him, hoping he'll go away. He doesn't.
I think that maybe he has a drug stash nearby somewhere and it thinking I'm trying to steal it.
I decide to move out of where I am, so he can do whatever he wants to do, or in case he tries anything. As I walk past him, he looks at me. Then I notice the twig in his hand is actually a SHANK! Yes, a nice big rusty metal spike, about ten inches long, with a sharpened end!
I keep my cool, and put on my best "I'm not that guy to mess with" attitude... hoping he goes his way as I go my way. I don't want to walk (or run) away immediately, as he could still chase me down in this isolated area, where the police cannot hear me, so I walk and stand closer to the exit in the fence (about 6-7 feet away)... like I wasn't nervous ...which I was ...VERY much. The guy moves to where he's literally right next to me, behind me, to the left, less than a foot away from me. Except now he's holding the "handle" part of the shank! He has it so the sharp end is point to his elbow, like in "shanking position".
He says "sup" and picks at his crotch with his other hand. I say "What's up?" and try to look like I'm not scared at all, looking at the Jersey shore (praying I'd get magically teleported there). I'm wondering if he's going to try to rob me, wants to know if I was messing with his stash, seeing if I was there for sex, or maybe just to stab me.
He makes a "humph" sound, as if he decided he can take me down, and was getting his bravado up. I walk about 5 feet away, standing on a rock, thinking "If he stabs me, I'll push him into the river, run like hell, and pray I don't pass out."
He takes two steps towards me. I move and take 3-4 steps and now I'm near the gate. I lean on the top bar, over the hole, trying to look as cool as can be. I see him look down the path to the north, as if making sure there are no witnesses.
I. make. my. move.
I start walking south along the train tracks. As slowly and calmly as my near-panic state lets me. I'm planning in my head "If you hear him, don't look, just pick up some rocks and try to bean him as much as possible, on the head preferably. Don't stop until he's down, then run like all holy hell is behind you."
About 50 feet away, I glance back, and he's standing by the fence, head poked through the hole, just looking at me. I can see the shank in his hand, as his forearm is resting on the bar over the hole, just like I was standing before. Further down, I again look back and now he's next to the tree, picking at the bark with the shank. When I get back to the "civilized, green grass park" area, I call my friend, Augusto, and tell him everything while sweating profusely from more than just the heat and humidity.
Seriously... I must love this hobby, because I'm not telling him that "This is crazy! I'm never coming back!"... Noooo! I'm there saying "I guess we'll have to wait until winter to check this one again."
NOTE: Honestly, although I think I could have held my own against him (HIM, not the shank), I'm not as much of a tough guy as you might be thinking. I just read way too many comic books! HAHAHA!