Saturday, October 2, 2010

A Craigslist Experiment Part 2: Gigs & Missed Connections

Category 1 - Missed Connections
This is where anonymity and yearning meet. Let’s say that you are in a Circle K picking up a few Oscar Meyer Lunchables when you notice that the co-ed at the counter is quite attractive. You can’t get up the nerve to ask for her number so you go home and post your feelings on craiglist hoping that she sees it and feels the urge to reciprocate your sentiments. Thus a missed opportunity is effectively salvaged. Below are a few real ads from my local craigslist:

“I came into your store this morning and I was in awe. I didn't catch your name but I know you read mine on my shirt.”

           This young entrepreneur is ahead of the curve. By ensuring that his name appears prominently on his outerwear, he eliminates the possibility of being confused with the other creepy middle-aged guy who made the cashier uncomfortable that day. 

“You were shopping with a friend and a giant balloon! You = brunette, thin, and amazing.”

There is nothing a potential mate likes better than flirt math. I regret having not utilized such a powerful device during my own courtship with my wife. You = Hot, Me=Single, Us=Destiny. 

“We struck up a conversation near some ferrets and it seemed we hit it off really well”

              This was from a young man seeking the woman that he met at a PetCo. I got nothing….

There were also several ads where the person would comment that “you would definitely remember what I was wearing.” My question is, how ridiculous do you have to look to stand out that much in a Tennessee Wal-Mart? Are you wearing a rented sea-horse costume?  Perhaps you were rockin’ a leather ascot? At any rate, curiosity got the better of me and I wanted to see if overly vague (and seemingly one-sided) secret infatuations really generated any replies. So I penned an anonymous ad of my own:

My dear,
                I beg your forgiveness for the cryptic nature of this communication, but I wish to protect my anonymity and your virtue. It would seem that, whether by coincidence or intelligent design, we share a common path to our morning destinations. I first became aware of your presence several weeks prior to this posting on a Monday or Tuesday morning when your femininely-adorned coupe graced the rearview mirror of my non-descript sedan. Enraptured by your delicate features, graceful countenance, and conscientious use of your turn-signal; I found myself reduced to a common highway voyeur. At the risk of self-depreciation, I admit that highlight of my existence is the brief eye-contact afforded me as you pass.

Unwilling to resign myself to a life devoid of passion and fraught with regret, I devised a simple, yet effective method of communication to ensure that any correspondence to this query is genuine. For three consecutive days, I signaled you by placing an inanimate object on the dashboard of my car. While the object itself is ordinary, its context within my vehicle is not and I trust that you took notice of it during our subtle flirtations. If, by some delightful coincidence, you find yourself reading this post and wish to strengthen our tenuous connection; please respond expeditiously and reference the aforementioned token.

Your Highway Paramour

The ad was placed in my local craigslist and then reposted in Houston, TX and Oakland, California. While no one claimed to be the object of my affection, all of the human responses where complimentary of my devotion to the woman in question. Several ladies were glad to know that there were still hopeless romantics out there, and one requested the identity of the mysterious dashboard item I referenced.  

If anyone has had success with this section of craigslist I would be interested to hear about it.

Category 2 – Gigs
While posting in the “Jobs” category of craigslist costs you $25 an item, you can post in the “Gigs” category for free. “Gigs” is broken down into several subcategories, with my favorite being the “talent” section. While it was originally envisioned for casting directors, and other procurers of talent, I suspect most posts are the work of teenage boys whose ads usually read something like this:

        Nude Model Needed! Please Send Photo and Phone Number. Must be Hot. This is for realsies!

In order to gain access to the largest demographic possible, I posted the following ad for a “narcissism assistant” to the talent, creative, and writing sections:

I am looking for someone to reinforce my fragile self-esteem by shadowing me throughout the day while constantly reminding me that everyone I encounter is inferior to me in both physical attractiveness and cognitive ability. If the day has provided me with an unusual amount of adversity, I may also require use of a commercially available theme song to be determined at a later date. If use of said theme song is deemed necessary, you will be required to accompany me while carrying my iPod and speakers.

You will be provided with a pager in case one of the following emergency situations presents itself while you are off the clock:

1.  I find myself on a date with someone who finds any member of the Kardashian family “inspirational.”

2.  I am exposed directly or indirectly to the music of the Black-Eyed Peas.

3.  I discover that a childhood nemesis resides in a higher income bracket or has more Facebook friends than me.

4.  I realize that my milk was out of date after I pour it into a bowel of Cinnamon Toast Crunch.

5.  Someone refers to me as “chief” while slapping me on the back like a pack-mule.

6.  I become disoriented as the result of Daylight Savings Time and place the wrong DVD at the top of my Netflix que.

7. I am faced with the chilling realization that my favorite T-Shirt has formed a dreaded “armpit hole.”

At this point in time I am unable to offer dental or vision, but I can provide a rudimentary health policy in the form of Band-Aids and generic ibuprofen. There is no preference on gender, but I do have an odor aversion to Polo cologne and stewed beats. If you utilize either (or God forbid, both) please do not apply. We can discuss monetary compensation after I receive your qualifications and can accurately assess your level of desperation. Good Luck!

I had a large number of respondents to this particular ad. Although most respondents correctly identified it as a satirical piece for a non-existent job, I did receive a few impressive resumes. Among the most interesting were a college professor, an anthropology major, and a professional singer. Despite the obviously comical nature of the posting, I did receive several “hostile” responses. My favorite was from an outspoken young man residing in the Mid-West who sent me this succinct email:

“You are such a moron. Do not put this crap in the talent section. Loser!!”

This email was accompanied by a photo of someone flipping me the bird. His unnecessary hostility aside, the young man did display the type of self-motivation that would be valuable in a personal assistant.

In most cases the post was flagged and removed within a two-hour timeframe (the record being about 28 minutes in Las Vegas.) For my efforts (and due to the number of flaggings) I have officially been “ghosted” by craigslist. This means that the system will accept future posts from me but fail to display them on the listings for public access. I have written a contrite letter to in an effort to get myself “unghosted” but thus far I have received nothing in return.

In summary, I have come to realize that craiglist is a microcosm of the Internet itself; unfathomably useful, yet inconceivably frightening at the same time.

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