Archive | March, 2021

Fake Safety

26 Mar

I feel I should warn you, this maaaaay turn into a rant…

I like to hike; I tend to flip between what I think of as “real” hiking and “fake” hiking.

Real hiking is a trail you can’t just stumble on, you need to take gear because you could encounter all manner of random wilderness situations (and by gear I mean like, water, a phone, spare socks, rain shells, stuff like that, not ya know, ropes and carabiners so I can scale the side of a mountain, what am I, a mountain goat? ๐Ÿ˜‰ )

Fake hiking is more trail walking, trails you can get to more easily (I have one accessible from my neighbourhood), you just take music, maybe a water bottle, you don’t need to worry about being out too long in the elements or being stranded in the forest.

The majority of the time I do both of those types of hikes alone.

Of these two I think most people think “real” hiking is the more dangerous. I might come across wildlife, you can die in the wilderness, what if a sudden storm hits, or I fall and break a leg and nobody finds me. I tend to be the idiot who doesn’t always tell someone where and when I am going, and I pack light because I’m going for speed and distance, not a leisurely stroll. And again, I tend to be doing this on my own. What can I say, my days off aren’t most people’s days off and I like doing stuff like this on my own, I can go my own pace, enjoy being alone in nature, but ya know, not touching it cause ew. It’s just a thing I do that I don’t think too much about.

However, I think the argument can be made that my “fake” hiking is way more dangerous, and you wanna know why? Because of humans!

There was a story on the news lately about a woman downtown, in her own neighbourhood, out running errands in broad daylight, who got followed by a guy for 40 minutes. She eventually found a group of strangers at a park and asked if she could stay with them, telling them this guy had been following her. She had been recording him while he followed her, he could tell he was being recorded, but that didn’t scare him off.

It was crazy. It was scary. It was unfortunately, not a new or isolated incident.

I first heard about this when reading an article online, the woman who got followed had a message for women out there that basically boiled down to the things we hear all the time, be careful, don’t go out alone, blah blah blah. Not that I’m trying to be rude to her, just that isn’t a new message, I’ve been hearing it since what, before puberty?

That message pisses me off.

Why, whyyyyy should I modify my day, my errands, my life, my leisure activities, to avoid being stalked like prey? Why, do we as a society, tell women to hold their keys between their knuckles, take self defence classes, don’t walk anywhere alone, completely modify your life, if you want to be safe. But ya know, not actually safe, just a pretend safe that can be taken away from you in a moment when some ass decides to stalk you during the day, in a populated area, just because he can.

So this was bad enough. I was more mad at the message being thrown out there, the message that to stay safe women have to change a bunch of stuff instead of men keeping their jerk friends from doing stupid things, men policing other men when they notice they may be a threat to women, policing systems cracking down on predatory behaviour more swiftly, the judicial system keeping predators like this in jail once they are caught and awaiting trial and then the penal system keeping them behind bars where maybe they can experience what it is like to be hunted.

But then, oh it got worse. A friend who knows I like to hike alone sent me a link to a video where a woman, on a trail I go to often (I mean, not yet this year, but often in other years) got followed by a creeper of a guy. So she did one of the other “tricks” we are taught, where you stop and pretend to retie a shoelace so the creeper passes you by. A bit farther down the trail he was behind her again, there are no trails branching off from that main trail so he had to have gone in to the bush, hidden, waited until she passed, then started following her again. Super awesome and totally normal behaviour right? So she keeps going, getting more scared, understandably. She tries losing him, it doesn’t work. She calls the cops and is telling them what is going on, where, if I remember correctly, she was told don’t take video or pictures of him as it might set him off. She then saw a woman coming the opposite direction from her so she told her what was happening and asked if she could walk with her. The woman said of course, turned around and they went together. They also came across a lone woman starting off her hike that they warned so she joined them. The three of them got back to the parking lot together, waited, and yup you guessed it, creeper came out, went to his vehicle, pretended to drive away, then eventually did drive away.

We don’t know what would have happened if that woman hadn’t found another person on the trail to pair up with. We also don’t know what would have happened if they didn’t warn the third woman they saw who was headed directly towards the creeper. I mean, we can hazard a good guess, but since none of us can see the future (if you can see the future hit me up, I have lotto questions!) we have to what, breathe a sigh of relief nothing bad happened and move on?

How is this ok?

I had actually planned to use that trail tomorrow. I hurt my knee this past week and wanted something without a high elevation and that trail is perfect for it. But now I’m all, huh, maybe I shouldn’t…which is so wrong! I shouldn’t be stopped from having a nice long “fake” hike, on a trail that is thought of as safer because I won’t run into a bear or cougar, because it is now the hunting ground of some guy.

Oh, and again, with this article, the focus was on women changing their behaviour to stay safe, not on society changing it’s behaviour to keep all citizens safe.

I know not all guys are predators. I am not saying all men are evil. I am saying that something has gone very very wrong that the victim in these situations is being judged for doing something we should all be able to do (go out alone), and we are propagating the myth that the only way for women to be safe is for them to modify their behaviour. Do we, as a society, really not know of any other way to keep women safe, so they can hike, grocery shop, walk to meet friends, etc. alone?

I shouldn’t have to be debating with myself on whether I think it is safe to go on my hike tomorrow or not because of this. I shouldn’t be wishing I had a big mean looking dog I could take with me. I shouldn’t be cursing because my knee is not great right now, which means I can’t run, which means I now think of myself as easier prey. I shouldn’t be thinking that a run in with a bear or cougar is a less dangerous situation for me.

I have no answer for this rant of mine, I mean I do, it involves castration and a lot of time behind bars for crimes that have been shown to be precursors to more violent crimes against others…but that isn’t a popular opinion. So instead I guess I will walk with keys in my hand, and change my route to be harder to follow, and be suspicious of every man out there I pass, because that is what I can do to stay safe…but not “real” safe, just “fake” safe, which is apparently the best I can hope for.

It Has Been A Year

19 Mar

A year ago today I was in a two week isolation period because I was exposed to someone who had come back from the states and didn’t quarantine and my full-time job said “nope, you can’t come here for two weeks”. There was a lot we didn’t know about Covid back then, and while we know quite a bit more now there is still a lot we don’t know. Testing for the general public wasn’t a thing then so the only course of action was to act like everything was normal and potentially spread Covid to others or be extra cautious (some back then called it paranoid) and isolate yourself.

I don’t have horrible memories of those two weeks. I repotted plants, I organized my pantry, I worked on random projects in my place. I couldn’t work on larger ones because I couldn’t go to the stores to buy supplies and there were not as many delivery options back then as there are now.

I remember my InstaCart person couldn’t find eggs or flour, remember all the panic buying? A friend of mine found both those items at her local store and brought them over. That was my first sample of social distancing when with a friend, she handed the items over then we both stepped back and talked from what felt like an unnatural distance. It was a fun convo but I felt like a jerk for not being able to invite her in. Now, if I stand closer than 6 feet with someone I feel uncomfortable and want more space, and I’m perfectly fine not inviting people in to my place.

I also remember back at the beginning of all this being a bit pouty on a Friday night because nothing was open, you couldn’t go anywhere, there was no real fun to be had. Not like I was in a partying phase when this all started, but I did hang out with friends and go do things. This past Friday evening as I was finishing my last load of laundry, while wearing sweats, and wondering what movie to put on Netflix I realized that I don’t even notice that I can’t go out anymore, because it is normal now to be inside on my own when not at work. Going out and doing something, on those rare occasions that happens, always has me feeling a bit uncomfortable, like I shouldn’t be doing whatever it is I am doing. Just to be clear, I am not doing anything that breaks the Health Authority’s rules, it just feels wrong to me, it isn’t actually legally wrong.

I can’t say that I’ve accomplished anything impressive over this past year. I watched on social media as people went through bread making phases, and plant phases, and knitting phases, and realizing how important teachers are phases, oh so many phases. I saw them, dipped a toe in here and there, but didn’t really participate because after that two weeks of isolation in March 2020 I was working full-time, I was classified as an essential worker (I work with seniors) and I was working my regular shifts. I also, for a chunk of last year, worked my part-time job, it transitioned so I could work from home and I liked the change. I was dressed for work from the waist up and in pajamas from the waist down, I could sleep in a bit, I sat wrapped in a blanket with a hot water bottle on my lap (my apartment is a basement suite and always cold), and basically I wished I had a full-time job that could transition to working from home because it was great. Eventually the company I worked for part-time started struggling and I got laid off, so now I am down to one job and oh boy does that hurt the budget, sigh.

I got my vaccine two Tuesday ago and immediately started having side effects. I wasn’t surprised, I react badly to vaccines and a lot of medicines, and my body very much believes in an all or none attitude. Either I seem to get all (or almost all) the side effects from something, or I get none. Wednesday I was sick, I mean not actually sick, just side effects sick, so I stayed home. I went to work Thursday and got sent home because what if my side effects weren’t actual side effects and I had Covid? Friday and Saturday were my normal days off and I still wasn’t feeling great so I rested. Sunday morning I got a text from my manager saying don’t come in, get tested and wait until you have a negative result to come to work. Sigh. So off I went for my sixth Covid test, my poor nose!

I appreciate that now, if I am exposed, or have symptoms, I can go get tested and know within 24 hours if I have Covid or not. It takes away the need for 14 days of isolation, which is good. It does mean having that swab up my nose each time, which isn’t awesome, but it could be worse…least it isn’t a needle!

So many things have changed in one year. Every time new rules are issued I get used to the new normal and go about my daily life and then randomly it hits me how much has changed. Some days I am mad at the changes, or one new change pushes me past my tolerance level for that day (or week) and I get angry and exhausted and even more stressed. I don’t stop following the Health Authority’s rules because I’m not that big of a jerk, but I am angered by them. Then I adapt to the new change, remember that it is not there to restrict my life but to keep as many of us safe as possible, and I once again go about my daily life. I think it’s better to adapt to the changes than be mad at them, isn’t there enough going on right now without holding onto anger? I don’t know about you but I just don’t have time for that.

Cougar Bait?

4 Mar

I was on a trail today that had a bunch of warning signs about cougars. Normally this trail has bears, sometimes deer, not big cats. Me being me, the signs didn’t deter me and I kept going, but the signs did get me wondering…

When on trails that are prone to bears it is recommended to wear a bear bell, or make some sort of noise, because bears will hear the sound and be all “nah, don’t wanna deal with that nonsense today” and avoid us interloping humans.

What about cougars though?

If you have ever been in the house of someone who lives with a cat you’ll know a lot of cat toys have bells, or some sort of mechanism to create noise, so the cat gets interested and plays.

If I were to wear a bear bell and a cougar was nearby would that bell be making me bait? Can’t you just imagine a cougar minding it’s own business then all of a sudden hearing a bell and getting curious? They follow the sound of the bell only to find a human on a trail, a moving human, making sound, like oh say, a cat toy?

By wearing bear bells are we making ourselves in to cat toys for cougars?

Just a thought I am pondering this evening as I am held hostage by the small sleeping floof I live with; I want a drink but he’s sleeping on my foot, guess which one of us is getting what they want? Hint: not me.

I’m not saying mountain lions and cougars are the same, but cats are gonna cat, no?

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