Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Let the moths roam free

After years of falling up stuff it seems to me that 90 per cent of climbers that I run into are IT nerds, while most of the others are desk jockeys or some other species of white-collar criminal.

Aside from the remaining handful of lifestyle climbers – those who choose penury and total climbing immersion over wage making and weekend rock warriordom – that means that the majority of all climbers are probably earning a tidy sum that is quite a few notches above the minimum pay packet.

Let's face it you need bucks and a job for this sport/hobby/pasttime/obsession because it has lots of expensive trinkets, you need hundreds of hours of paid annual free time and the means to travel.

Yet there seems to be this pervasive, tightwad attitude among so many members of the climbing estate that is disproportionate to the amount of moolah being earned.

These are the same people whose carrion stench-like climbing shoes have been resoled so many times they look like Bonzo the clown's, whose backpacks are so old that they were handmade in exotic non-Asian locales such as "Australia" and "USA".

They’re the ones whose climbing ropes are so aged that fencing wire is more pliable and long-haired Persian cats are less fluffy.

This inability to put hand in pocket extends to many things like buying a car, buying deodorant, paying for accommodation – ("Let's sleep in a bin rather than pay $40 for a hotel room"), or even being the person to do the first shout at the bar after a day at the crag.

Picture this last scenario: six people stand at the bar looking at the walls, ground or texting themselves until the thirstiest and/or non-tightarsed (non-TA) person cracks and spends a small fortune on a one-beer shout before everyone then gets into the same poor sucker's car and heads off down the hill.

But the beer round is only the first act of this two-act tragedy for the non-TA car-owning climber. The most painful of tightarse (TA) behaviour is yet to come: the petrol money stand-off.

This begins with the driver peppering the conversation with a stream of hints – "gee we've used some petrol", "this car drinks petrol" – all of which fall on the selectively deaf ears of his snoozing or iPod-attached homies.

It ends at each drop-off point – where each TA lives 50km in the opposite direction in which the non-TA lives – with a mano-a-mano conflict requiring the non-TA to uses mixed martial arts skills, such as hammerfist manoeuvres and the like, to forcibly extract the cash from the reticent TA's beaded man-purse.

So why is the wad so tight among many rock folk?

Is it because it's cool, edgy or a "Camp 4/The Pines maaaannn" to be a total financial anchor, if so then that's a sad affectation.

Or is it because you once lived on the side of the road in a cardboard box and were murdered everyday by your father (apologies to Monty Python) and have a lifelong fear of a return to the poorhouse.

Or maybe you were once a struggling Uni student living on potnoodles and fizwhiz and – like poorhouse – have grown accustomed to frugality.

Newsflash: you ain't a student or poor no more.

And if you've got "Dr" in front of your name or "PhD/MA/BA/DSO/VC" after it you're no longer kicking against the pricks, you're one of 'em. So get some counselling and get over it.

If none of these accusations/manifestations of tightarsedness apply to you then that's great.

If none of the perceived explanations seem fair, sorry about that.

If any, some or all of the above apply to you could you please do this one simple thing: Open up that fat wallet and let the moths roam free.