Snork. Are HHH so obscure in the US that this explanation didn’t occur to ANYONE? The only country I’ve lived in that wasn’t positively infested with them was Mozambique, and that was probably because of the land mine problem.
To be fair, though, I once mistook some HHH clues for something else altogether as well. We have a lot of stray cats and dogs in Cairo, and every now and then some mutt bares its fangs at the child of someone important, and the Powers That Be resolve to Do Something … namely, to poison the poor beasties.
So one day I was walking home and saw wierd mixtures of lentils and flour at erratic intervals along the curbs. Putting two and oranges together to get apples, I concluded it was another stray-poisoning scheme being implemented by the local government.
Since I had a number of friends with inquisitive toddlers, I called them all and said “hey, watch out while you are out walking with your kids … it looks like there may be poison out for the strays again. Don’t let your kids touch the lentils and flour!”
I’m not sure how I found out that it was merely a Hash House Harriers trail, but I felt suitably stupid when I did.
I’ve never been impressed with the Harriers, though. They seem like a good bunch here in Egypt, but in other countries I’ve lived in, they had outings where they drank to the point of being dangerous to themselves and others, or ran uncaringly through people’s private property. The brouhaha in the OP seems extreme, but it does seem like either harriers need better guidelines in place (for example, they could have TOLD Ikea before they did the trail marking), or if they do have guidelines, they need to start following them.