Missed Connection: Found and Relinquished

When I posted last week about things I had never done before, I deliberately omitted one experience because it deserves a post all its own. Here it is.

Around 11:30 AM on February 11th, I was standing in the 15th Street post office in Boulder. I was the seventh or eighth person in line, there was one cashier, and everyone in front of me had so many packages to send that you would have thought it was Christmas. Clearly I was going to be there for awhile, but I was too exhausted and distracted to care. I was ten days into a breakup from a horrible relationship and, while I was relieved to be out of it, I was still in that emotionally bewildered state that accompanies such drastic life changes. I hadn’t slept more than five hours or eaten more than the equivalent of three meals that entire week, I hadn’t showered that morning, or for several previous, and I was singularly focused on surviving the day. That very morning, after leaving the post office, I was going to pick up the keys for my new house and then go immediately to the UHaul place to pick up a truck and meet my friends at my ex’s place to grab all my belongings, which I had packed up the weekend before.

As I stood there in a zombie-like state, I became aware that the man standing in front of me wanted to strike up a conversation. He turned slightly toward me, then looked forward again, then back toward me. It seemed he was trying to think of a witty way to begin a conversation. And then he did. He started talking about a Radio Shack commercial that made fun of itself for being outdated and he parlayed that into a commentary on the depressing condition of the post office that certainly hadn’t had a decor update since at least the 80s. And then somehow the conversation spun off into the trades as respectable careers and the necessity of a cultural change in American thinking about the importance of a liberal arts education, and on and on we talked, so fluidly, so naturally. My troubles were temporarily forgotten.

Eventually we reached the head of the line and when he was called, we mutually acknowledged how enjoyable the conversation had been and then we went about our business. I finished well before he did and, being the day it was and having fallen back into my distracted condition, I snuck out of there.

Every time in recent memory that I have been hit on was on a day when I was feeling far less than my best. One time was at the grocery store after I had worked a 12+ hour day and was drained and had a raging headache. One time was on a day when I hadn’t showered in a few days (this is not a habit, I swear) and my greasy hair was pulled back into a ponytail and I was wearing an outfit that made me feel almost frumpy. And then this. Of all days and in all the circumstances. I didn’t want his number–I couldn’t comprehend going on a date–but I did think about him from time to time for a few weeks after. They say you never know how what you say or do will affect those you encounter, and that man couldn’t have possibly known how good he made me feel on that stressful day. I needed that conversation.

Then I forgot about him for a while until one lonely and depressing early spring evening around my birthday. I had gone on other dates at that point and thought how nice it would be if I could run into him again. And then I did something I thought only happened so that late night talk show hosts would have something to laugh at. I decided to post a Craigslist Missed Connections notice. Yep, that really happened. I wrote about where we met and on what day, and asked him to write and describe what we talked about, specifically what his opening line was. A Radio Shack commercial wasn’t something anyone could just guess. Then I posted it and went to sleep.

The next morning, he responded. Not just any random creeper responded. He responded.  The guy. Less than 12 hours later. He described our conversation. How could that be? And then immediately, I didn’t want to go on a date with him. What kind of person reads the Craigslist missed connection ads? Yes, I fully realized the hypocrisy of these feelings, but I mean, seriously? It was weird and kind of disturbing.

But after telling my friends that mystery post office man had been located, they insisted I meet him. How could I pass up on this kind of second chance? So, I texted him for a few days, and then we met up. The night went well. He was a perfect gentleman, cultured, interesting, charming, intelligent. But as a 38 year old, I mostly date online because there are certain preferences I have for the way I want to live my life, and reading through online profiles allows me to filter out guys who don’t meet my criteria, no matter how attractive they are. The biggest non-negotiable is kids. I don’t have them, I don’t want them, and I don’t want to deal with someone else’s. Well, Mr. Post Office had two teenage daughters. There wasn’t going to be a second date.

So, there it is. I never thought I would go on a Craigslist Missed Connections date.

But you don’t want the story to end there, do you Reader? You have a lingering question, don’t you? Did Mr. Post Office explain how he came across my Craigslist ad, and so quickly? He did, and it seemed reasonable and non-creepy. He said that he first moved to Colorado in 2008, when the homebuilding and construction industry (which he was in at the time) hit rock bottom. He was constantly on Craigslist, hustling for odd jobs to pay the bills because he couldn’t find full-time employment. At the same time, his marriage was falling apart and looking at the missed connections was some source of comfort to him that romance still existed. Believable? You decide for yourself but I choose to think that’s a sweet explanation.

And before I let you go, I must add that one other guy responded to my Craigslist post before I had the chance to take it down. He couldn’t tell me what we had talked about, but sent his photo with the email. The message sent out a clear vibe that he fishes on missed connections for dates all the time. I showed the response to my friends, and it turns out that he is the neighbor of one of my Boulder friends. She knows exactly who he is and will now forever think of him as a complete weirdo. Boulder is small, people, very small. Be careful what you do.

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