(Old fashioned typesetting isn't the most efficient way to print, but...)
As we walked to Mel's Diner, her phone kept ringing. Not the typical I'm-in-LA-and-I'm-popular ringing, but more of a your-house-is-burning-and-I'm-trying-to-notify-you ringing.
"Do you need to get that?"
"Oh no," she replied, without taking the phone out of her purse, "it's just my ex-boyfriend."
Five minutes later, the phone was still ringing.
"How did you meet this guy?"
"I met him at a club. I didn't really like him very much, but he kept talking to me. When I would leave to go to the bathroom, he would find me again."
"And you gave him your number?"
"Well, I didn't want to. But he kept asking me over and over again, so I eventually figured if I gave him my number he might leave me alone."
"But he didn't?"
"No. He kept calling and asking me out. Finally I decided to just go out with him to make the calls stop."
"But they didn't?"
"No. The date wasn't very good, but he kept asking me out again. Eventually I became his girlfriend."
"And now you've broken up with him and he keeps calling you?"
Amazing. I never saw this girl again, and I'm sure she doesn't remember me, but I think about this interaction all the time.
It shows that stubbornness can be more effective than tact. Back when I went out all the time, I prided myself on having a lot of finesse. I could sense the mindset the girl was in and respond appropriately. If she was getting bored I'd suggest going somewhere else. If she didn't feel comfortable I'd back pedal a bit, slow down, and try to connect on a human level, instead of joking around. But if she didn't return my call, I wouldn't call back. Too proud.
A friend was asking my advice about a girl he was trying to see. She flaked a couple times and my advice was not to call her anymore.
"Yeah," he said, "I know that's the right move, but it sure feels like losing."
He's right. Brute force persistence may not work every time, but at least there's some chance of success. Not calling conveys all of the right things: I'm not desperate, I'm not too attached to this, and I'm not needy; but almost certainly won't result in ever seeing the girl again.
Seeing this annoyingly persistent guy succeed gave me the same feeling I get when I see scammy internet marketers making hundreds of thousands of dollars pushing worthless diet pills. It's not quite jealousy, and it's not quite inspiration. The best I can put it is that I realize that I'm not doing things the most effective way, and I begrudgingly accept it. It's the intersection of drive and personal standards, seeing the way to getting what you want, but being unwilling to do it.
This post could have been about the triumph of stubbornness, and its close cousin, persistence. If the guy from the story was retelling it, it would probably come out that way. But to me it's a reminder than winning isn't everything; how you play matters too.