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Odds are Bad

Composed on the 17th of August in the year 2008, at 6:01 PM. It was Sunday.


I browse around the missed connections on craigslist looking to see if someone missed me, misses me, or just took a moment to apprcieate my amazing style and good looks, and I've never seen anything close, except for the many descriptions that match my commute, build, and hair color, but that's because I live above Williamsburg, and everyone looks pretty much like me. The description of the missed person always ends with tattoos, designer wear, or pets, so I remain forsaken in an unjust world.

It's an evening's break from a work at home lifestyle, and almost as entertaining as the Best Of section, but I've recently been seeing a lot of posts from people wondering why they've never been mentioned.

You can't let your ego depend on this site. It's like writing one or two replies to the job listings and being dissappointed a week later. I wrote several thousand emails before I got a job.2[2] Freakishly, I got laid exactly once off this site, from the first reply I ever wrote, and oh my god was that a bad idea. But that's an anamoly I would have much preferred been used on a lottery ticket.

Look at the odds.

Say you're searching 2 out of 5 boroughs. On average, that gives you about 4 million people and change. I see about a hundred to two hundred posts a day from that women, assume 51%, and assume men are probably posting three times as often. 600 posts, total per day, with I think is generous, without doing any reseach. Ignoring gender, that's 600 out of 4 million people. Probably some repeat posters, replies, ongoing conversations, rants, and random poetry of questionable quality, so shave off 200, that's 400 in 4 million. So, 100 in 1,000,000, leaving 1 to 10,000 against. Everyday, you have a 1 in 10,000 chance to be the subject of an attracted, craiglist-posting stranger's gaze

I've folded good hands with better odds than that. These are not betting odds. These are the odds the doctor gives your family after you've just been brought in with gunshot wound to the liver and they find malignant tumors during a botched operation. 1 in 10,000 means that you would have to search every post every day for about 29 years just to make it likely that you'll find one referring to you.

It could be argued that searching just your commute and your own tastes makes the odds better, but this is wrong: it makes them worse. For one, you keep an eye out for things close to you, thus limit your total possible options. Fact is, the missed connections most likely to be about you are going to be people who expect not to see you again; i.e., outside your daily commute, borough, or city, which is even more depressing, because that person, aside from having to use craigslist, is also 1 in 18,000,000, or more to the point, 1 in the 50 or 60 million people who might look at you over the course of your life if you like travel and big cities. Keeping to your commute essentially dooms you, because even if you have a crowded new york commute, you are likely to eventually be stuck with the same few thousand people day after day. They're interested or they're not not, if they haven't approached you yet, they probably never will, and furthermore, if they write something about you, chances are you missed it, because again: every day, 29 years.

Worse still, remember that the type of person attracted to you also has to be the type of person likely to use craigslist. I love craigslist, but craigslist has a majority population restricted to a middlish class, studentish kind of mentality, plus they have to be mildly web savvy, own a computer, remember they had a missed connection in a frame of time when you have the same hair and can remember what you were wearing. How do you respond to

"I was trying to read over your shoulder two weeks ago on the downtown 4. You had jeans and a green(?) shirt, and black hair. Loved your look. Tell me what I was wearing?"

Are you kidding? Does this narrow things down at all in New York? This is about the same as "I saw you on the subway. Guess my sign."

Scorpio. There. 1 in 12. Odds are already better. If you actually recognize yourself beyond a doubt in this forum, you are a phenomenon. Take some heart: I would bet a lot of hard cash that out of the million people you see in the city everyday, at least a hundred, if not a few thousand checked you out and wanted your hot body and your smooth and/or quirky style above all others, for at least five to ten seconds. Are you going to find them here?

In 29 years, probably. If you find them before you're already married or dead, please, please go straight to the store and buy me a lottery ticket, because I've already blown my luck for a few years. Better for you, go to the dating section. Be direct, witty but not flippant, and keep it short, because they've got 400 other posts to go through.

1 This was posted to the many complaints about "why hasn't anyone missed me?" in missed connections on craigslist.

2 Full disclosure: I did get it from craigslist.

Second only to the tuba in un-sexiness.

Hi there! You should totally go buy my book for the low low price of 6.73! It's like buying me a beer at an out-of-the-way dive bar in Brooklyn! Not in Manhattan. Manhattan prices are ridiculous, though there are a couple of decent Irish dives where you can snag a drink for five bucks. Otherwise, you're looking at a two or three book beer.