Maybe there’s love to be found on the subway after all. (Photo by flickr user your pal Matt)
When Patrick Moberg set eyes upon the cute girl sitting across from him, he shared an experience with every New York male: He fell in love with the cute girl on the subway. As we know, Moberg was too shy to talk to Camille Hayton, and so he set up a Web site. Boy meets girl; boy sets up Web site; boy gets girl.
At the time, the media reported this story as though Moberg’s experiences were somehow unique. He had the guts to post his subway crush on a Web site; let’s get him on Good Morning, America. Of course, as anyone knows, Moberg is not alone. The Craigslist Missed Connections list is chock full o’ subway stories. And that is where we enter these musings on subway romances.
The subways are the great irony of the New York City dating scene. Single folk in New York would rather subject themselves to the pain of trying to find a date in a crowded bar or club than talk to that cute stranger they see everyday on the subway. The person in the club is bound to be just as unhinged as the early-morning straphanger heading to work. But at least you have two things in common with your fellow subway riders: You both ride the same train, and you both have jobs. That must count for something.
It would be easy to strike up a conversation with the guy in the suit or the girl with the curly hair, right? You see each other every day. You ride the same train at the same time; you get on the same set of doors at the same stop; and one of you must know at which stop the other gets off. Just take the plunge.
But it’s just not that easy, right? We live in an insular world on the subway. It’s a means of transportation, and we like to stay anonymous in the train. The people who ride the 2 with you everyday from 96th St to Chelsea, who are they? We see the same people on the same train day after day and never say anything.
Instead, on the trains, we are hide behind our books, our magazines, our iPods, our sleep. Why? It’s an ideal social situation to meet someone different. But the subways remind us that New York is very, very big. While we may see the same few people everyday if we’re on the same train at the same time, we also see hundreds of people once and then never again. It’s a bit daunting, and when a stranger breaks that code of silence, we have to acknowledge the thousands and millions of people we never will know or see again.
It doesn’t have to be like this. Look at those Missed Connections. This guy had an easy opening; the woman wanted wanted him to talk to her, it seems. This guy just feels dumb. This girl leaves a vague message on Craigslist and won’t talk to her crush while he reads The Blind Watchmaker.
Imagine how nicer New York would be if we started talking to the people who caught our eyes in the subway. Maybe just a friendly “hullo” to break the ice would suffice. You never know what might happen, and I’m sure it’s more successful than the myriad frustrations expressed in Craigslist. After all, as the MTA is wont to remind us, if you see something, say something.