On November 12, 2005, my dad sent me this e-mail while he was traveling for work:
I bought a copy of The Elba Clipper today, a smalltown southern Alabama paper, and came across this lost dog ad in the classifieds. I was struck by the unintended poetry of it.
$100.00 REWARD Return of lost dog.
Small, brown, shorthaired dog,
white muzzle. Answers to the name
of Maggie. She is 16 years old and
does not hear good,
she has trouble walking.
I’ve kept this e-mail in my inbox and return to it regularly for two reasons.
First, the sentimental: My dad is the kind of man who finds poetry in day-to-day existence, even in circumstances I would never have thought lent themselves to beauty, humanity, humor or thankfulness. It humbles me.
And second, the professional: Sometimes the simplest way to put things is the most evocative. As a journalist, this lesson is worth its weight in gold (provided you’re not getting paid by the word, at which point, verbosity has its merits).
It was with this second point in mind, that I turned to the great human equalizer: personal ads. But with a Webby twist–I hit up Craigslist and, in particular, the “missed connections” section. There’s an inherent longing and sadness about a missed opportunity, especially when people throw themselves out there to reclaim that lost chance. So it seemed a reasonable place to start. What did I find? Aside from the fact that I could fill a collection based on metro-platform flirting alone, I’m now taken with this vaguely unsettling and simultaneously comforting feeling that no matter where I am, I am so not alone.
Some of what I’ve reprinted here thrills me, some intrigues me, one kinda distresses me. But each has a lyrical quality; a cadence that calls out. Each is exactly how I found it online, though I admit to tinkering with line breaks for the sake of the blog format, and I’ve removed the “M4M” or “W4M” gender indicators as I found them distracting to the overall point. Anyway…as found on Craigslist:
By Missed Connection posters on Craigslist