We tracked the most recent Manhattan locations of Craigslist's "missed connection" posts
City life is full of near-hits and glancing what-ifs. Most people go about their day giving little thought to what could have been if they had reached across the subway aisle and asked the cute girl in the red hat for her number before she got off at Chambers Street, disappearing forever behind the closing doors. But a few dogged, lovestruck fools take their chance encounters (or non-encounters, as the case usually is) to the pages of Craigslist, posting under the Missed Connection heading, hoping against hope that the object of their infatuation will scour the listings and recognize the description of themselves as "the very red hair security/maintenance guy at the Natural History Museum" or the man with "black curly hair tied behind in a bun...reading a book on cosmology" who quelled a stranger's screaming child by whipping up a balloon animal on the subway.
Craiglist only keeps Missed Connections posts active for a few weeks, so there is a fleeting nature to the endeavor, and a sense of urgency. In Manhattan, the weeks leading up to Valentine's Day have seen an expected mix of the lovely, the carnal, and the mundane. The most common sightings on the West Side were in public places - the park, the subway - and gym locker rooms. There's the older married guy trolling the streets of the Upper West Side for hot doormen, and the gentleman searching for "the beautiful blonde" with the "the most wonderful laugh" who attended an invitation-only dress rehearsal for a new play at Lincoln Center, and escaped into the night before he could find out her name. Some seeking connections aren't looking for romance at all - a woman recently posted about a meeting in Central Park 23 years ago, when she ran into "a pair of interesting young people" dressed in goth-like clothes and bedecked with bloodstone rings and snake eye pendants. Then there's the pedestrian but earnest search for the "black woman in post office" wearing a "beige long coat."
The one thing that all the missed connections have in common is an air of resigned futility. There is the slightest tinge of hope, of course, but almost every poster includes a line indicating their full understanding of the slim possibility their reunion fantasy will become reality. Still, that's where the real romance lies - in the belief that there's a chance, however small, that a random sighting in a city of over 8 million souls will lead to true love (or at least a fun date).
The man chasing the beautiful blonde said it best:
"I know this is crazy, and probably never works, but maybe you or one of your many friends you were sitting with will see this and put us in touch. I'd really love to say hello."