Of Labor and Love

by Ted Gargiulo — Signals are crucial to our wellbeing. They govern our decisions, tell us when to go, when to slow down, when to swerve to avoid a disaster, when to desist from making a bad situation worse. It behooves us, therefore, to recognize them and (hopefully) learn from them. 

Take business etiquette, for example. An experienced job applicant watches for signs. When the interviewer stands and extends his hand, it means the interview is over. That’s the applicant’s cue to rise as well, shake the person’s hand, and bring his business spiel to a tidy conclusion. He’s knows (or he ought to) that forcing the conversation into double overtime after the meeting has officially ended will NOT win him additional points, and may, in fact, cost him what few he’s already earned. Some believe that dogged persistence shows strength of character and opens doors. However, unless you’re super confident or super motivated (I’m neither), your safest bet is to follow protocol and mind your manners. When it’s time to leave, LEAVE! If you’ve made a good impression, maybe someone will invite you back. Simple enough.

In matters of romance, the same basic principles apply, but they’re often more difficult to discern, still harder to accept.

Case in point: When the girl you’ve travelled a great distance to see, a girl you thought was nuts about you, spends half the weekend with her hair rolled in soup cans, and the other half yakking on the phone to another guy, you can pretty well figure, if you have any sense, that the affair, relationship, or whatever fascination she once had for you, is over. Turning a blind eye while you’re being dumped on only invites further abuse. A third party observer would advise you to walk. And if you wish to maintain your self-respect, you’d do so without whining. To stubbornly appeal to the girl’s kinder nature at this point, or demand that she come to her senses and acknowledge the colossal injustice she’s perpetrating, is crass and undignified.

Once you see that a “position” has been filled, or that you’ve been replaced by an applicant, or suitor, worthier than yourself, that’s your signal to make like a dog and “BOW-OUT.” Failure to do so when your time is up is tantamount to leaving the job interviewer standing by the door with his hand outstretched, while you rattle on about your qualifications. Not cool!  

Listen: Parking your sorry, dejected butt in the threshold when a door is closing will NOT reinstate you into anyone’s affections. I learned that the hard way, so let me make this easier for you. Don’t play the chump. Don’t overstay your welcome. If you’re as special as you want people to think you are, they might just ask you back—unless you give them reason not to. If they don’t, bid them “Ta-ta!” and be gone.

When the future Mrs. G. graced my life 40 years ago, everything changed. For once, I understood what real love was all about. I began putting childish things away, clearing my cache of old habits, embracing happiness instead of defeat, even learning to like myself. Suffice it to say, I’ve long since purged all associations with my past. And that insensitive fool who ran my life has never darkened anyone’s threshold again.
                                                                                    

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