A Note Regarding The Value Of Persistence

A couple of decades ago, I was hanging out at a pizza place I frequented – I designed their logo, so I ate there for free – and I was talking with the guys there about the cool scene in Michael Jackson’s “Smooth Criminal” video where he starts the music by throwing a quarter across an entire room and into the slot on a jukebox. It was agreed that was an engineered effect, and further agreed that it would still be wicked cool to do in real life. I ventured the opinion that it would be really, really hard, but not impossible. The owner opened up the register, handed me a pile of quarters, pointed at the jukebox, and said “Knock yourself out.”

I spent the whole afternoon – whenever no customers were dining in – flinging quarters from across the room at that jukebox. Not a single one went in, although a few careened off in weird angles because they hit the little tab underneath. The guys laughed about the fact I tried so hard to do it, and did pretty much every day after. I figured if I was going to be hanging out in a pizza place – my hand was still healing from the recent car accident, and I stopped in there every day after therapy – I may as well be throwing quarters across a room at a jukebox.

The thing is, my aim got better. A LOT better. And I could now pretty reliably hit a very small area with the quarters. The guys were commenting on that one day as I patiently threw quarter after quarter after quarter, and then…suddenly…


The quarter slid right into the slot and the jukebox cranked to life with a Guns “n Roses song at full blast.

Everyone stood there, stunned, then started yelling and applauding. One of the cooks commented that yeah, I’d gotten the quarter in, but only after a thousand tries.

The owner laughed and said “That doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter how many times he tried and missed. All he had to do was make it work ONE TIME, and we’re all going to be talking about it forever, for the rest of our lives.”

About caveo

James has written and illustrated six books in the bestselling series The Chronicles of the Imaginarium Geographica: Here, There Be Dragons; The Search For The Red Dragon; The Indigo King; The Shadow Dragons; The Dragon’s Apprentice; and The Dragons of Winter. The series is now being published in more than twenty languages. A seventh volume, The First Dragon, will conclude the series in November 2013.

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