As I step onto the subway platform, I pull out my book to read while I wait for the train.
A very cute blonde girl with plaid pants and a low-cut blouse slowly walks by as if she’s heading nowhere in particular.
So without hesitation, I tap her on the arm.
“Is the J train running?” I ask her, motioning to the J train sign.
“I don’t know,” she says with an accent. “I think so. The trains are not running well today.”
She’s friendly and smiling. She stops walking. She’s now standing next to me.
“I’m going to hire you as my personal tour guide,” I say to her. “I’m going to take you everywhere with me.”
She laughs. “Oh, I don’t know, I think you will get very lost.”
“You know, call me crazy, but I thought I detected a bit of an accent,” I say.
She looks down and blushes. “I have much of an accent.”
“I’m gonna say French,” I guess.
I’ve gotten very good at guessing people’s accents. 85% of the time I get it right now. And this time I’m on again.
“I have some French friends,” I tell her, stealing a line from my friend, John Keegan. “They dress really well but they’re a little crazy.”
“Ah yes,” she says. “They are not so–how do you say?–‘straight’ as the Americans.”
She is not very comfortable speaking English. So I press on, carrying much of the conversation.
I speak slowly, clearly and extra loud whenever I speak with a foreigner.
“So what are you doing in New York? Did you run away from home?” I ask.
“What kind of internship? Selling fish at the market?” We’re near canal street where all the vendors sell fish.
“No, photography,” she laughs.
I ask what inspired her to get into photography. She tries, but she can’t quite explain.
The train comes and a crowd of people gather round. I make sure I step onto the train before she does.
I find an open space and she comes over and stands next to me.
“So you never asked me what I do,” I say to her.
“Okay…” she says, motioning for me to continue.
“Go ahead, ask me,” I say.
Even though she’s smiling, she won’t play along.
I launch into a often-used story about how I am an author and the importance of being able to tell stories. I tell her a story about my parents and then I throw the conversation back to her.
But she doesn’t have much to say.
Then I decide to let things drop. I wait to see if she’ll pick up the conversation. I pretend to look at something on the wall in the subway.
It grows slightly awkward.
But I refuse to pick up conversation again. At this point, I decide, if she doesn’t, then I’m done with things.
I don’t care if we have two stops to go.
I could keep going with things. I could continue to try and engage her, but at this point, it simply isn’t worth it.
Part of the problem here–and this may be the entire problem–is that she doesn’t speak English very well.
A girl having problems with English doesn’t necessarily hurt your chances.
The more trouble she has with English, the more difficult it is for her to meet people, and the more likely it is she’ll welcome the chance to hang out with you.
Whether she has trouble with English, doesn’t know how to continue a conversation, or simply isn’t into me enough–it doesn’t really matter at this point.
If she can’t take any initiative here, then it’s not worth continuing. I could just as easily walk up to another girl and start an interaction.
In my last post, I talked about the importance of commitment, how some women are shy, nervous or simply don’t know how to continue an interaction.
If you aren’t comfortable pushing interactions forward, it is one of the most important skills to have. Many opportunities will slip through your fingers if you are too quick to leave.
However, it’s also good to know when to walk away from a woman when things aren’t working. Sometimes it’s awkward, but knowing when to end things is, in itself, a skill.
After I let conversation drop, she doesn’t pick it up again. And so, I open my book and start reading it.
As the train nears my stop, I give her a tap on the arm and say bye to her with a smile.
Easy come, easy go.