BY TAYLOR WADE
Craigslist's Missed Connections section is essentially a type of personal advertisement which is posted after two people meet but are too shy or otherwise unable to exchange contact details.
The Missed Connections section on Craigslist receives thousands of ads every month for major cities across the United States. In New York City alone, there are 8,000 postings per week. Each region has a common arena for their "missed connection" – in the Pacific NW, the most common location was on the bus; in the Pacific SW, it was the gym; in the North East, it was the subway and train; in the Midwest, it was the supermarket; in Texas and the Gulf, it was Walmart (I sure hope this isn't an indicator of where singles are searching for love in Texas).
Some ads are short and mindless, while others resemble heartfelt messages in a bottle. Some are searching for a person with whom they only shared a moment, while others call out men with secret families who had changed their phone numbers. Then there's the post of a man catching a glimpse of his ex-wife on the L train. In the post, featured in This 'Missed Connection' Is Heartbreaking In The Best Possible Way, the man recalls how he married a woman back in the 1980s to win a bet placed by a college buddy. "Half-drunk, and half-in love" when they said "I do," the pair rushed to have the marriage annulled three days later. Distance and time had separated them until recently, when the man says he spotted his "ex-wife" on the L train in New York City.
In these short romantic bursts, people strive for a connection. All human beings ache to be less alone, to be connected to others. And, what a serendipitous way to meet the love of your life, which is all so rare these days. However, people choke when it comes time to actually utter a sentence or a simple "Hi" to their crush.
"Should I pretend I'm lost and ask her for directions? No, I don't want to look like a dumbass."
"Should I comment on the weather? No, we're below ground numb nuts!"
"Should I compliment her? No, that would be way too direct."
"OH SHE JUST SNEEZED AND I DIDN'T BLESS HER! SON OF A....!"
Of course, he always finds reasons as to why he shouldn't let actual words leave his mouth and by the time his inner battle ends, she's gone. He has let the inner voice win and he's left to sulk in his own defeat. A perfect example and one of my favorite and most poetic of Craigslist missives (albeit a bit dramatic), reads like so:
Okay, well, most people wouldn't excessively preoccupy their minds with a stranger riding the subway for sixty years, but you get the point (and what a beautifully written post!)
People become poetic, hopeless romantics, so consumed with an urge to make that connection, yet frozen with hesitation and fear. If only they had said something in their initial impulse. If only there wasn't a lingering cloud of self-imposed pressure to make the perfect first impression. Because in reality, wouldn't you rather fall and spill your coffee all over your beloved, if it wins yourself a conversation, then silently wait in the corner of the L train, waiting for a moment when you can compliment him on his loafers? Because, that time may never come and before you know it, he and his loafers are getting off at the Quincy brown stop.
If you're really on top of your game, just follow Megan Baldwin's lead. In her article, Missed Connections: Dating Advice I've Learned From Craigslist, she urges women to ride the subway in pursuit of finding her dream man (or just steal someone else's Missed Connections ad). Or, you can take her bold approach of crafting love business cards. "I've recently had the folks at Staples create a 'love' business card with the most important facts about me -- for example: I enjoy bowls of cereal and am directionally challenged. Or you could just have one made with your name and phone number and maybe a headshot if you're photogenic. In this way, I will never let someone great or even just great looking walk on by," she admits.
While success stories were not abundant in my research, I did stumble upon this encouraging Missed Connections story from SwirlSpice:
"The story of how Alyssa Good and Matt MacDowell met seems straight out of a Hollywood romantic comedy. She’d taken a seasonal job at a department store at the Mall of America and he came into her section. They chatted amiably; then he left, with Alyssa charmed but certain that someone so sweet was already spoken for. Days later, a friend of Alyssa’s directed her to a Craigslist Missed Connections ad that seemed to describe her perfectly. Alyssa responded, and she and Matt emailed for a couple of weeks before finally meeting for coffee on a cold January night. They talked for three hours, closing down the coffee shop, and haven’t been apart since. Their wedding was filled with personal touches, from Alyssa’s graphic design on the printed materials to the handmade seating chart they made out of corks collected from friends and family members."
Life is strung together by small moments – it's what you do with those moments that count.
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