Lookin' for love on the L train
A world seethes beneath New York where love-seeking straphangers interact with stolen glances between jostling bodies.
Those who enter that world at the L train's Bedford Avenue stop in Brooklyn take to the Internet more often than riders on any other line to turn furtive eye contact into trysts.
In romance fever's high-season -- the two weeks before and after Valentine's Day -- 421 men and women posted to the "missed connections" thread on craigslist.org hoping to connect with a stranger they chatted with or made eye contact with underground.
The Bedford Avenue stop sparked 16 of those postings -- the most for any station servicing a single line. Only Union Square, where the L and seven other lines meet, outnumbered the Williamsburg stop, notching 34 missed connections. [MORE]The Lorimer Street-Metropolitan Avenue stop on the L won second place for scoring 12 missed connections.
"Some people are just shy or want to talk but wait too long," mused said Sammy Howard, 25, of Brooklyn, while waiting for the Manhattan-bound L at Bedford Avenue. "I've met a few cool people on the subway that I wanted to talk to longer, but I waited too long to ask for their number and then they were gone."
Missed connections provide an outlet for frustration like Howard's brewing in the underground sinews of New York. Craigslist created the missed connections thread in 2000. Each month 7,000 missed connections are generated inside the greater New York area.
Missed connections resemble the format of other craigslist's personal ads, with headlines providing general details, "L train to Bedford Ave., Thursday Eve. - m4w Â 32."
"You were the super cute redhead with the brownish hood. I was the guy in the dark knit hat who didn't follow up on the significant eye contact because he wasn't in a chatty mood and who now deeply regrets his lack of initiative. Can the Internet save the day? Long odds, sure, but why not."
Mary Pender Greene, a New York psychotherapist and relationship expert, attributes the abundance of missed connections in Williamsburg to several factors: record subway ridership; an increasing number of people don't have time for traditional dating methods; and Williamsburg's straphanger population, which is more likely to be young, single, career-oriented and tech-savvy.
"These are people not able to meet anyone because their circles aren't big enough -- it's people willing to take a risk -- they're adventurous," said Pender Greene.
Stephen Pierce, 25 of Brooklyn, browses missed connections "not so much out of whatever desperate longing romance that most people have, but more for that -- just an interesting experience."
Pierce stumbled upon a missed connection post from the Bedford Avenue stop about him. The female poster identified Pierce by the bicycle he rode home from the stop after work.
"I sent her a picture of my bike and asked her if that was the bike," he said. "It was. We met for coffee and it was awful. I am pretty sure I am not going to meet anyone of value on the Internet."
Would he respond to another missed connection? "Yeah Â totally," Pierce said.
-- Erin O'Neill