May 11, 2008

I'm all for giving up. It's very underrated

Barack Obama is on the cover of Time magazine. It declares him the winner and it looks as though he will indeed be the Democratic nominee. But Hillary is still campaigning 18 hours a day. People are wondering when she's going to let go. Maybe she's in denial. Some people believe she doesn't know how to get out of the race. Now everyone is asking: does Hillary have an exit strategy?

Having an exit strategy is important. So is having a good sign off. Whenever I'm saying goodbye to someone I like to say, "See you soon." I know it doesn't imply a commitment but it feels like I have plans for the future and something to look forward to.

But saying "See you later" - that's different. When someone says that I tend to ask: when? It creates anxiety. Usually they'll be silent for a second and look taken aback. Then they'll say they don't know - soon.

Since I don't go out very much it's rare I have to devise an exit strategy. Also, people usually don't mind when I leave.

When I do need to provide an excuse I rely on "I don't feel well."

As soon as you raise the possibility of illness, no one wants to be around you anyway. This makes the exit less conspicuous.

Another approach is to disappear. In relationships this seems to be the exit strategy my exes employ the most. Why? No talking.

No one wants to explain why they're dropping out. It's too messy.

It's so much easier without explanations, discussions, and feelings.

Also vanishing doesn't seem to require a great deal of time or effort. One day you just stop returning phone calls. When an e-mail or text arrives, you ignore it. If you don't have a PA, you screen all calls to make sure you're unavailable until eventually, the calls stop.

The opposite of this strategy is the way I tend to exit a relationship. The long slow goodbye. Dragging it out as long as possible. Endless dissecting of what went wrong. Who doesn't love that?

However with Hillary, a big part of the problem is she won't give up.

I'm all for giving up. It's very underrated. We're led to believe it's a sign of weakness to give up but I don't see why. I give up all the time. When something gets too hard, I quit. Why not. Giving up is so much more rewarding than winning.

Especially when it comes to sports. I'm not big on competition. If it looks like I'm going to lose, I stop. I'm not a Russian gymnast. What's the worst that can happen?

The only time I seem to have any real tenacity about something is when it doesn't matter. The other day I was waiting in the queue for the ladies room and someone tried to cut in. She insisted she was there first, I insisted she wasn't. It was like a Mexican stand-off. Just then, two stalls opened up simultaneously, so the matter was resolved. There wasn't really a winner. But refusing to relinquish my place in a queue for the loo - those are the sorts of situations I won't concede.

In Hillary's case, timing is everything. Her refusal to leave the race when she's down in the polls makes her look like a fighter. Her refusal to leave the race when Obama is accepting the nomination? That doesn't make her seem heroic. It makes her seem sad.

People say all the time if you don't succeed - try, try again. But it would be so much more dignified if she said "I give up. See you later."