It’s not every night that I hitch rides around Hoboken with a complete stranger.

Thursday nights are usually Krav Maga class in Hoboken. Regular classes ends at 8:00 and the recently-started sparring sessions take place over the following half hour. The plan for this Thursday after class was to get quick dinner in the area with a friend (in this story, let’s call him “Eric”.) What actually happened was much more interesting for everyone involved.

Picture yourself after an intense workout: you’re sweaty, physically and/or mentally tired, ready to change, ready to eat, and certainly ready to not stay in the building for another hour. You go to the changing area, change, and you’re ready for the next event! Good visualization; now onto reality.

The stage was set when I leave my jacket hanging on the hooks in the Krav Maga studio while I went to change. This wouldn’t have been much of a problem, except that there were no more classes this night—meaning that the studio gets locked up—and that my car keys and cellphone were both in that jacket. I realized my mistake as I left the bathroom, but by then the woman who locks up was already gone. Me: 0; Padlock: 1.

Luckily, Eric had been waiting around and he had a cellphone we could use. So we initiated a multi-pronged attack: I asked him to call Krav Maga Academy to get hold of the phone number of the people with the keys while I went searching for Building Management. I quickly discovered that Building Management had, much earlier, left the building. KMA was more helpful, with the receptionist going to find contact information for the people we needed. While we waited, we walked through the building to see if anyone else might help. That was when we saw a few painters taking night classes.

To make a long story shorter (and because I don’t remember how exactly this played out), we explained the situation to the painting teacher in charge, exchanged friendly banter, and while she called her own boss to see if we can find an after-hours phone number for Management, Eric and I made more calls to different people with varying degrees of success. At one point we get the number for the original woman who has the key; she doesn’t pick up the phone or respond to texts. In her defense, she’d had to rush off in the first place to make some dinner engagement. While we wait in-between calls and texts, Eric and I stay productive and do punching evasion drills.

Finally, we get the phone number for another KMA employee who’s in the area, and after a bit of back-and-forth we arrange to meet her at the Newport Path Station in Jersey City to get a key to the lock. As Eric and I are preparing to walk to the nearby Path station, the painting teacher has locked up and is about to leave. Once she hears our plan, she offers* to drive us over; we gladly accept and cheerfully entertained her** on the drive to Jersey City.

I obtain the one key to open them all***, and the helpful lady drives us back since “she had to head in that direction anyway”. We arrive back at the Monroe Center. I jog up the fire escape to the second floor, stopping at the padlocked door.

BOOM!**** The key works, the lock opens, and a heavenly chorus sings (in my head) as I retrieve my jacket. Eric and I wave out the window to the helpful painter teacher lady, who honks before she drives off away from the building and into legend.

This night exemplified the idea of embracing turbulence—a lifelong pursuit where opportunities to practice appear every day. When one doesn’t take himself too seriously, one may end up with a great story. And it feels so much better to be amused than annoyed!

* This definitely would not have happened without prior demonstration of our non-threatening-ness earlier; the lady told us as much on the elevator down and while driving. Our senses of humor probably helped. And maybe the fact that I look more like an endearingly cheerful high school student than maniacal potential kidnapper.
** There was plenty of joking about giving car rides to strangers; she told us her students would be shocked that she’d taken such a risk, what with the obvious threat that ET and I clearly posed. We assured her that she should consider herself the first in a pilot program for our new bodyguard services (if interested, consider signing up for classes at Krav Maga Academy.) I also made sure to apologize for how I was making the rest of her weekend look dull by comparison, for which she graciously forgave me.
*** Forged by the Dark Lord in the fires of Mount Dontleaveyourjacket. Preciousss.
**** When the situation warrants, I like to imagine sound effects that enhance dramatic tension.

I haven’t had quite so much fun writing in a while haha. FWASHHH! The end; thank you.


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