Understanding China, One Blog at a Time

An American in China

Block ’em Out Willy!- Riding a Subway in China

Posted by w_thames_the_d on November 2, 2010

“Block them out Willy” – what Greg Schaeffer would yell at me during practice…

Greg Schaeffer was my basketball and football coach back in the day. The guy was great, he taught us a lot, but instead of turning this into a ‘feels good post’, I’m just going to rant.

I really don’t care for basketball, but come from a small town in Iowa, which means very small. And in small towns (this was before the ‘net), there were a few things to do, many actually , but only a few that appealed to me. One was girls and the other was sports, so I divided my time between the two and played all the sports my school had to offer.

I was thin when I was young but tall and a decent athlete, but loved to win so loved to master the basics- anything to give me an edge. Coach Schaeffer stressed this, he loved focusing on the basics. He would torture us, make us run till we puked, but loved us like family. And taught us life and basketball skills (he was also a great football coach). One of the sills he taught us was called ”blocking out’. This is a tool used in basketball, and actually wide receivers can use it too, but it is where one uses their body as a shield. The idea in basketball is to shield the opponent from the ball while awaiting a rebound, thus allowing you to get a fix on and grab it.

So flash-forward to today and yesterday. I’m on the subway and surrounded by a hundred fang-toothed chinamen all trying to enter the subway or jostle for position to leave. And lo and behold, but what do I find myself doing? I am using those same basketball rebounding techniques that Coach Schaeffer had taught us. I am lowering my center of gravity and using my center of mass to block out chinamen when necessary, to impede or allow their progress as necessary, and generally acting like a subway ‘traffic cop’ with my body.

The idea hit me this morning in particular as about 10 rowdy Chinese tried to board an already crowded subway. The problem is that in front of them were some elderly women and the guys were being quite rude, and smashing into them. My solution was simple, i utilized what i had been taught many many a moon ago. I stared off into space while using myself to impede the progress of the rowdies, thus providing some room for the elderly.

I miss getting back to the basics….

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