Thoughts and musings about the experiences I had working at Mesa Rim.
By Joseph Legotte
Mesa Rim was celebrating its sixth birthday when I started working here. I was hired on as a front desk employee and despite growing up in San Diego and starting my climbing journey here, the first time I ever set foot inside the gym was the day of my interview. I was officially offered a job while on a short, post graduation road trip, and what began as an opportunity to have a fun job right out of college turned into more than I could have ever imagined. It hasn’t always been the easiest over the three years I have worked here; nonetheless I have thrown more love and passion into this job than anything before in my life, which makes saying goodbye so heart wrenching.
As anyone who has read my previous articles will know, I am a huge believer in the power of our community. I want all of you to know, first and foremost, the reason I came into work psyched every day was because of the love, support, and acceptance I always received. Whether it was being welcomed in by so many different coworkers and members immediately upon being hired, or the people who finally had the courage to introduce themselves to me upon entering the oh so “intimidating” setter position, I have met so many amazing individuals here. I woke up nearly every morning thrilled to come in and serve our community. Even on the bad days, the bad weeks and months when tangential life problems clawed to the surface, the smiles, laughs, jokes, and conversations I could count on kept me lighthearted and optimistic.
In return, all I could do was try to foster and encourage an amazing experience inside our doors for you. I was lucky enough to ingrain myself deeply in the community. I started to work here right before Mission Valley opened, which allowed me to help grow a whole new branch of the Mesa Rim community, and I relish in the knowledge that I know a fashionable chunk of valued members from both gyms. The foundation for this was built during my time at the front desk, but my eventual transition to full-time setting bestowed upon me one of the greatest responsibilities at a climbing gym: ensuring that the actual climbing is exceptional, exciting, fun, and challenging. Because I knew so many of you personally, it drove me to come in to work every day, slowly destroying my body and my climbing, to give you an exceptional experience on the wall.
I have learned over the years that there is a special connection between a setter and the people who interact with their work. I have purposely frustrated plenty of you, challenged everyone in some way they weren’t expecting, and hopefully pleased or enlightened some of you unexpectedly, all from the simple idea of movement on the wall. My biggest goal as a setter was always to put a smile on someone’s face, to surprise them so forcibly that they feel some emotional reaction, however fleeting, on a route or boulder problem. Whether you have come up to me and thanked me for a certain route, or cursed my name in vain for all my stupidity and lunacy, I am glad you had an experience. I made mistakes, lots of them I am sure, as I quickly learned what people not only wanted, but needed out of their experience here.
Again, I did my best to reciprocate the incalculable compassion our community demonstrates on a daily basis in the best way I could. I showed up every day with you in mind, willing to work as hard as possible to create something different, something antithetical to what I did the day before or the month before. To the people who noticed this, I thank you and appreciate you for always making sure I knew when I was on the right track. For anyone who maybe hasn’t picked up on it yet, take some time to really interact with the routes and reflect on your experience. The entire setting team here is devoted and dedicated to making you a better climber, to give you snippets of joy and elation, and to create the best possible experience you could have climbing inside a gym. We all set for different reasons, and the biggest reason I am drawn to it is simply because I love you all, I love our community, and we are doing spectacular things in our pursuit of adventure as lifelong climbers.
It is undeniably bittersweet to leave Mesa Rim for awhile. How long I will be gone, I really do not know. I am headed off to pursue some other passions of mine, but I depart assured that Mesa and the people here will always be on my mind, and imprinted on my heart. Once again, thank you to everyone who gave me a reason to love my job and gave me a smile or a hug at some point; thank you to everyone who I ever roped up with or shared beta in the bouldering area with; thank you to everyone I may have never met personally but untied at the base of one of my routes with a sense of accomplishment, or anyone who lowered off perhaps a little defeated but with a surge of tenacity to keep fighting and growing as a climber.
Know that I am not alone in this pursuit; there are plenty of other people who work at Mesa Rim that feel equally or even more heartily than I do, in the fact that you deserve everything we have to give in pursuit of championing a community that we can all be proud of. Therefore: Go. Climb. Go. Yoga. Go. Train. Go. Proud. Go. Love.
With all the love and passion I could muster,