Is one happening... right now?
Craigslist's "Missed Connections" section is full of ads posted by people who, in most cases, didn't take advantage of an opportunity to ask someone out. I think of it happening on a subway, or in a bar, or in line at a Subway. It turns out the most common place it happens in the United States is Walmart. Which makes more sense, actually.
Dorothy Gambrell made this map for Psychology Today, based on where the 100 most recent Missed Connections in each state happened. Apart from the flood of Walmarts, the most striking thing is Indiana's top spot: "at home."
Since a Missed Connection involves someone being right under your nose, and yet you don't get together, in no place could it be more emblematic of the nature of the experience than when it happens in your own home. The person was right there. Sitting in the same chair you're sitting in when you wrote this ad. They could've just never left, and you could've lived happily together in that home forever.
How could this happen?
I had to ask Gambrell. She had a simple explanation:
Delivery people, canvassers, repair people, neighbors, neighbors who we know are married but we've been watching them and maybe... And there are Missed Connections from whoever just looked at the room you are subletting, and maybe it's my imagination, but was there something there?
Which can happen, absolutely. A friend of mine met his now-girlfriend when she came to inquire about renting a room in his house in Los Angeles. That was just a few months ago, and now they're canoodling on the cover of Los Angeles magazine. According to Becca Rosen, though, who met Craigslist founder Craig Newmark and regaled him with the excellent story of how she actually met her husband via the site, it's such a common occurrence that he was visibly unimpressed.
Since the sample sizes in Gambrell's research were small (100), it's also possible that one particularly charming delivery person in Indiana is going around raising heat, causing the state's unique result.
Gambrell didn't even mention parties one might host, in their home, that might be attended by a very attractive stranger. Though, at a party there would almost certainly be some mutual friend who could give you the person's name, and you could do the much more socially acceptable thing -- breaking into unapologetic social network flirting.
Either way, an upside of our tortured relationships with the Internet is that connectedness means more and more missed opportunities can be corrected -- whether they happened in a 24-Hour Fitness, a state fair, or right in our own home.
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