Missed Connections are not your typical personal ads. Though they're nestled among the online personals on Craigslist, you won't find a single male who loves long walks on the beach and nights cuddled in front of a fire.
Instead, you find people like Aubrey.
The 20-year-old posted in the Colorado Springs w4m (that's women for men in Craigspeak) recently looking for Young Man Motorcycle.
Stopped at a light near Fountain and Powers, the two shared a moment. They made eye contact. There was a spark. But before she could roll down her window to say Hi or get a number, their romance was thwarted by a minivan that pulled up between them. The light turned and the moment was gone.
This is where Missed Connections comes in. Instead of giving up, she went to Craigslist and submitted a free posting that described the location and interaction. Curious about what makes people post on this electronic bulletin board, I sent messages to a handful of the posters. Aubrey was happy to chat with me, but preferred I only use her first name. Given the anonymous nature of these listings, I agreed.
I can hear cynics asking, "What are the chances that motorcycle man will actually see it?"
With 50 billion page views each month, according to the Craigslist fact sheet, it's a long shot, but it's still a shot. Think of it as asking the universe to lend a hand.
The hopeless romantic buried deep inside me sees this as the most optimistic, beautiful thing. I mean, what a fun story to tell your future grandchildren when they ask how you met grandma. "We were at the Diamond Shamrock in Falcon, I looked over and locked eyes with this lovely lady in a silver Grand Prix. She drove off but I couldn't get her out of my mind..."
Then the skeptic in me shows up and says that hey, this is really creepy. I don't even feel safe posting things for sale on Craigslist. Why would I trust the site to help me connect with a handsome stranger who held the door open for me at the bookstore?
The author of another listing I reached out to replied. But he asked for "amnosity" because, he explained in an email, he is married and some people wouldn't understand why he posts these. He's right, I don't understand.
The classifications reach far beyond women for men and men for women — in all there are 24 categories that include all variations of women, men and transgender possibilities. In the Colorado Springs listings, the majority of postings are in men for women, followed by women for men.
The posts, in general, fit some stereotypical male-female molds. Women seem to want to connect for genuine relationships. Men, for the most part, want to "connect" in a more literal fashion. If a dissertation hasn't already been done on the communication in online personals, it's a topic ripe for research.
Mixed among the expected "I saw you at Best Buy on Friday night" listings are some heartbreaking soliloquies to lost loves. In the absence of a Lost Connections option, it seems some people are using Missed Connections to cry out to anybody who will listen.
Like me, you're probably wondering, do they ever work? Ask Google if Craigslist Missed Connections work and you'll find anecdotes, not statistics.
But the answer is yes, sometimes the universe complies, but with a twist and assist. And sometimes it takes the help of a local newspaper columnist (that's me).
Aubrey had heard from a few people hoping to be her motorcycle man, but none were him. As we were nearing the end of our conversation, I asked what she does for a living. She said she's a parts delivery driver for a local dealership.
"Wait," I said. "A parts delivery driver?"
Just before we got on the phone, I was digging deeper in the listings — on July 19 there was a post, "you parts delivery me tow driver."
Could it be?
Aubrey, who spends her lunch hours reading the Missed Connections usually for entertainment, went looking. Later that evening, she sent me a message. She and the tow driver were now exchanging messages. Within a few days, they were planning on going out on a date.
Sure, by the time you read this, that relationship might have run its course. But me? I'm going to embrace that inner hopeless romantic and wait to receive my invitation to their wedding.