Missing Love on the Bus


I’m not sure exactly what to make of this map (via Sullivan), but fills me with an odd sort of pride that Washington is one of the few states (along with Oregon and the obviously transit-oriented Illinois, New York, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and D.C.) where transit use is commonplace enough to lead in this statistic.


  1. lazarus says

    The number of states where Walmart is the number one location for a missed connection is purely shocking. But personally, “if” I went into a Walmart, I’d prefer a missed connection….

    And what is the deal with Indiana? The number one place for a missed connection is “At Home?”

    • Mark in Kenmore says

      Maybe the people in Indiana are deeper than us and their missed “connections” are more metaphysical and existential in nature.

      • says

        I thought that was pretty wild, too. Back in the mid-20th century there were all these ideas about preserving spontaneous social interactions in the age of the automobile, from wild (and physically implausible) Frank Lloyd Wright plans to have auto promenades incorporated into public venues to humbler ideas like drive-in theaters and teenagers in small towns cruising around the main streets to see and be seen. Almost all of these faded; I think even drive-through restaurants are declining (but I don’t have numbers on this). We all gave up, now we drive to big ugly parking lots and socialize outside of our cars.

        But Georgia has somehow kept the dream alive. I don’t think Georgia has a less hideous automotive landscape than any other place, and I don’t think it has DC-style spontaneous carpools either. Maybe they just drive socially there.

      • Bernie says

        Georgia has somehow kept the dream alive.

        Bootlegging, and I’m not talking pirated music matey. They’ve turned it into a pass time called NASCAR :=

    • Sam says

      Lazarus’ elitist comment aside, public transit should be a place of missed connections (no pun intended), and a store, like Walmart, for example, is better suited for approaching someone you’re interested in. It’s incredibly rude and thoughtless to ask a fellow bus or train passenger out, knowing that if they aren’t interested, you are going to make all their future commutes awkward and uncomfortable, for they will always have to be on the lookout for the creepy guy who also takes their bus who hit on them and they shot down. People, don’t ask people out on public transit. It’s a bus, not a night club. [ot]

      • Mike Orr says

        A college friend of mine met his wife at Target. He was a checker and she a customer, or vice-versa, I forget which.

      • d.p. says

        If the smitten were more forward toward the smiter, then it wouldn’t be a “missed connection”, would it?

        If the two encountered one another every day on the same infrequent commute vehicle, then it wouldn’t be a “missed connection”, would it?

        Mass transit — real mass transit — offers as infinite chances to notice (or not), connect (or not), and ignore (or not) the many new faces you encounter on the many possible transit vehicles on which you set foot.

        If your greatest fear is that you may one day lay eyes on a perfectly nice person whom you have already politely rejected, then you had better never visit the same restaurant, coffee shop, drinking establishment, store, or public park more than once either. You’re better off hiding 24/7 in your car and on your couch.

        Anecdotally, the sexier, more scintillating environs of the East Coast’s subway systems have been responsible for as many “hit” connections as missed ones.

      • asdf says

        I, personally, have had several interesting conversations with people both on and waiting for the bus, and have met a good friend of mine while waiting at the bus stop. The bus is a great place to make connections. You just have to expect that not everyone is going to be interested and if someone doesn’t want to talk to you to simply respect their wishes and move on.

    • Justin Elder says

      I think the thing to note from all the “Wal-Mart” locations is that, in many communities in those states, Wal-Mart is the ONLY place where one can buy anything. Any other stores went out of business a decade or two ago, leaving Wal-Mart as the only place to go. It’s the one place where everyone goes because there is no realistic alternative.

    • Mike Orr says

      When I took my first cross-country Greyhound tour in 2000 (on a 3-week unlimited Discovery Pass), my first stop was Walla Walla where a friend had gone to grad school. He said to wait for him at Starbucks when I arrived. I relucantly agreed since I had always avoided corporate-chain cafes. But after I’d spent a few days in Walla Walla I realized Starbucks really was one of the few places in town to meet/relax/be social. It ended up being where I’d go when I had a couple hours here and there. So I can see how Walmart can play a similar role in other cities that are either small or have few “third place” civic spaces. Not that you can sit and relax at Walmart, but because it’s many people’s regular supermarket/drug store/department store, these chance encounters are bound to happen some of the time.

      Another thing about Starbucks. I never understood why people went so hog-wild over it when it was just imitating the independent cafes. (Also I don’t like coffee so I can’t say one coffee is better than another.) Then a friend who had traveled more told me places like Arizona had never had European-style cafes, so when Starbucks opened it really was something new and special. That must have been the case in Walla Walla too.

      • Bernie says

        Coffee Perk was opened in 1997. They’ve been past sponsors of the Tour of Walla Walla. Starbucks was the new kid on the block when they set up shop next door.

  2. Ben Schiendelman says

    Transit is where one gets the most serendipity density. You’re stationary relative to others, have a chance to see them, to see what they’re doing, and to be seen.

  3. Peter on Fauntleroy says

    Probably due to the high percentage of people that commute by transit in these cities. We don’t have as large a total number if transit riders, but he do have a high percentage.

  4. Anandakos says

    Interesting that in Arizona it’s LA Fitness, but in California it’s 24 Hour Fitness. I guess the folks in the Bay Area (and the Central Valley?) just do not like LA.

    But they still wanna’ look like they live there…..

    • Mike Orr says

      24 Hour Fitness is also a southern California chain (Carlsbad, north San Diego County). (Gold’s also started in LA but is now headquartered in Texas.) 24 Hour Fitness has several sizes of gyms, including those both smaller and larger than ordinary big-box gyms. That means it probably reaches more locations and markets, plus its 24-hour schedule is a draw. I have not seen LA Fitness in the Bay Area but it may be somewhere. Gold’s seems to be the most popular in San Francisco. I don’t know about other Bay Area cities.

    • Anandakos says

      Folks, it was a joke!

      I guess I should have includes a “/sarcasm” tag.

      I got a good laugh from Bruce’s reply, though! Right on.

  5. John Bailo says

    Either I have the worst bus route for pickups, or I gotta move to Cali…I’ve been going to 24Hr Fitness here for a decade. Never made a connection!

      • David L says

        To expand… In five years of bus driving (three full-time, one more with near-full-time hours) I was hit on exactly three times while driving. Despite the fact that I drove throughout the Metro system, two of those events happened in downtown Seattle and the other one in the U-District.

      • John Bailo says

        Actually there was one time where someone (who was quite attractive) struck up a conversation with me and would have pretty much been mine for the taking, however I was married at the time, and Homey don’t play that.

        That was at the Overlake station in Redmond…lots of design majors working in software, I guess.

  6. Mark Dublin says

    First thing this exercise calls to mind is that scene in Cat Ballou where Jane Fonda warns her father that a certain gunfighter is especially dangerous because he got his nose bitten off in a fight, and her dad says: “I’d be afraid of the guy that bit it off!” Who cares where connections aren’t being made?

    What I sense here is refusal to face the embarrassing reality that with cell-phones and i-everything, reason many connections are being missed because the other party connected with somebody else.

    Really pathetic to be at agreed meeting place somewhere out on the 124 while object of affection is stepping off the 550 for candlelight dinner at the Bravern.

    I also think a lot of us have started lying about the fact that we really did make the connection, and deliberately concealing locations. In this particular area of my life, I want the eyes on the screen of the drone to be looking someplace else.

    Meantime, much more useful diagram also available in Ballard shows connections between names of professional wrestlers. THAT’s the true hidden key to both personal fulfilment and national security.

    Mark Dublin

  7. David L says

    Not sure I understand how these stranger connections get started at all, but more power to them!

    I’ve been in six serious relationships in my life. Two were musicians I had known for years before dating. One I met in high school. One was a best friend of a best friend’s husband. One (the disastrous one) I met at a professional event. My wife was a friend of a few friends.

You may want to read our comment policy.