One particular annoyance in traveling to midtown Manhattan on the weekend is the fact that, while the subways run twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, their primary purpose is to convey the millions of Monday-to-Friday workers to their jobs, with an emphasis on getting the 7A-3P, 8A-4P, and 9A-5P cohorts to their places of employment. The weekends are when a lot of track repair takes place. I knew, before I even approached the subway station at 238th St and Broadway in the Bronx, that I would have to take a shuttle bus from 238th St to the A train terminus at 207th St.
The bus ride wasn't too bad, because it was early in the morning, and the traffic backups due to the track maintenance and maintenance work on the Broadway Bridge hadn't had time to metastasize. The Broadway Bridge played host to a bunch of Department of Transportation trucks:
Metal barricades were set up to provide a clearly delineated area for the construction workers:
The central portion of the drawbridge was covered with plywood:
The ride on the A train from 207th St to 59th St wasn't too bad- the train is an express, so it makes a paucity of stops. The trip was only remarkable because there was a panhandler on the train with a unique approach, he was wearing pajamas and a leather jacket, and his pitch was, "I'm wearing my pajamas and I need two dollars to wash my clothes." His novel approach didn't win anyone over, it was a crowded train of people who were already pissed off that they had had to take a slow shuttle bus ride to the 207th St station. Divining the unsympathetic mood, the panhandler got off the train after one stop.
I got to the dojo eighteen minutes late, but Big Al and Kickass Sue had the first class well in hand. Head Sensei, the Berber Badass, was supervising the whole thing, and Morocco's George Clooney came in shortly after I did... yep, train issues.
We had a great program after everybody had assembled. I played randori with Head Sensei for three minutes and held my own- I told him that I had spent a lot of time earlier in the week humping boxes around, so I felt extra strong. Our last class was a big one- about thirty students, boys and girls, seven years and under. After an initial instruction period, reviewing O Soto Gari and O Uchi Gari, we decided that we would have the kids engage in an informal tournament- we set up a competition area on the mats and had them compete, complete with formal bowing, two out of three falls for the win. The highlight of the competition was a match between one of my favorite students, a four year old girl with an infectious smile, and Head Sensei, who graciously let his opponent win. I have to commend these little kids for their sportsmanship, respect for each other, and mutual support- these kids really made me proud with the way they comported themselves. We all emphasize the moral component of the sport (mutual welfare, mutual development) and these kids demonstrated flawless behavior. They looked so cute, and so funny, as they were fighting, I couldn't help but be amused by our little tourney. It's things like this that make getting up on a Saturday morning after two and a half hours' sleep worthwhile.
After we were done, Gentle Jimmy G., who arrived at about the midway point in the day after working a shift, offered me a ride back to the Bronx. When he proposed driving up to Dyckman St because there are a lot of pretty Dominican girls in the neighborhood who would be enjoying the warm weather, I told him that Broadway was a traffic nightmare due to all the construction. The neighborhood is a bit of a traffic snarl-up on the best of days, so bypassing it on the Henry Hudson Parkway was the way to go.
I can't imagine the Broadway construction project will wrap up anytime soon... there are two more weeks of our Saturday classes, two more weeks of dealing with the vagaries of the transportation system. It's also two weeks of teaching, and watching our students put what they learned into practice. The trip may be arduous, but the payoff is wonderful.