We've all had a missed connection—that fleeting connection with a stranger which, for some reason, we were unable to follow through on. That guy you met on the beach 10 years ago with whom you had the deepest conversation about life and death, only to realize the next day that you—*facepalm*—never exchanged numbers? Admit it: You still think about him sometimes.
Here, we round up real missed connections from people whose encounters with strangers have stayed in their heads a month, a decade, or even two decades since. In the tradition of Craigslist Missed Connections, we've indicated the genders as "M" for man and "W" for woman, with "M4W" meaning "man looking for woman," and vice versa.
W4M: To the American man who went out of his way for me on a flight to Detroit
"In 2011, I caught a flight from New Jersey to Los Angeles via Detroit to spend the Fourth of July holidays with my brother. Because of delays due to heavy air traffic, I was seriously at risk of missing my connecting flight, which was the last one out of Detroit that day.
I was fretting so much about missing my next flight that at first I didn't notice you sitting across the aisle from me. I don't remember your face now, but I do remember that you were a white guy, and that you looked very tall, attractive, clean, and you smelled nice.
We talked, and I found out you were going home to Detroit for the holidays. You asked me about myself, and probably because I looked panicked, you checked the status of all the flights on your phone for me when we got stuck again waiting for the plane to dock.
Just when I thought your act of kindness was just you being a courteous fellow passenger, when the door of the plane was finally opened and people prepared to alight, you took my carry-on luggage and politely yet loudly called out to the people up front, 'Excuse me, this girl is trying to catch her next flight. Can you please let her exit first? Thank you.'
I remember being stunned, touched, and swooning inside at the gesture, but at the time I was still hoping I could make my next flight, so I ran out of the plane and did not look back.
I still missed my flight, despite your gallant efforts. I realized that I didn't get your name, let alone your number. I don’t even remember if I said thank you." —Iya, 32
M4W: To the girl with the jean jacket around her waist at Today x Future
"At the dying hours of a Friday night at Today x Future in Cubao, with my intoxication wearing down, you caught my eye.
You were wearing a white button-up shirt, a black skirt, and a jean jacket tied around your waist. But it was the way you carried yourself that drew me to you; you had a quiet coolness about you. I asked my female friend to go talk to you so she could introduce me.
We chatted for about 30 minutes about your career, your hometown, and more. I was so into our conversation that I forgot to ask for your name and number.
Wherever you are, I wonder if I’ll ever see you again." —Gabi, 33
W4M: To the boy browsing the science fiction aisle at Fully Booked
"You were walking up and down the science fiction aisle at Fully Booked in BGC one Friday night, wearing a gray shirt, skinny jeans, and a red hoodie, when you caught my eye.
You were going through the titles on the shelves, and you grumbled a bit at the lack of Isaac Asimov titles. I caught that, and chuckled as I shook my head. You turned towards me because you heard my little snort, and we locked eyes and exchanged smiles for a quick second before going back to our own book browsing.
Once you had settled on your purchase, you pulled a title off the shelf and passed me, but not before I told you, 'I'm happy you at least found something you like.'
You stopped in your tracks, turned to me and said, 'Me, too,' before making your way to the counter.
You then walked out of the store, and out of our encounter." —Tina, 25
M4W: To the girl on the bus named Taj
"This happened almost 20 years ago when I was in high school. My friend and I were on a bus going to my house when I saw you get on the bus by yourself.
I told my friend that I was going to go over and talk to you, but of course I was nervous because I was just a kid then and you looked like you were already in college. The whole trip, I thought about how to make my move, but I couldn't do it.
When we finally got to our stop and I had reached the bus doors, I suddenly turned back and sat beside you, leaving my friend who had already stepped off the bus.
I gave you some lame excuse that I was getting off at another destination, but since there was no traffic, it took only about five to 10 minutes for the bus to get to my new destination. But in those five to 10 minutes, we got to talk. I asked for your name. It was Taj.
After getting off at my fake destination, I commuted back to where I had left my friend. He was still there by the side of the road, waiting for me.
You, however, I never saw again." —Finn, 33
W4M: To the Italian man I made out with one night on Castaway Island
"While on a trip to Castaway Island in Vietnam, I was sitting and just minding my own business when you sat beside me. I can still remember your gorgeous face and your cute Italian accent.
Through dinner and drinks, you continued to pay attention to me. I asked you where your drink was, and you said, 'If I get one, will you kiss me?' I said, 'Sure, why not?' so you left and came back with a drink in hand.
You asked me to dance. You twirled me around and came in for a passionate kiss. I didn't want to be that easy girl who gives out kisses like candy, so I excused myself and left you on the dance floor.
I ran to the beach, but then you came over looking for me. I asked you, 'Why don't you flirt with those other girls?' You responded, 'I am here by the beach with you because I want you!' Then you kissed me again.
I couldn't believe what was happening, quite frankly, so I pulled away and went back to the dance floor. Once again, you followed. By our third kiss, I gave in, and we made out torridly, giving zero fucks in a sea of dancing people.
Then you tugged my hand and insisted, 'Come with me!'
I knew what you wanted, and I was tempted, too, but I paused, stared at your handsomeness and answered, 'I can’t, I’m sorry!' and walked away.
I guess I got scared because I've never done casual hookups with a complete stranger before. Every time I remember that moment though, I have a huge grin on my face. One for the books, I suppose." —Jessica, 31
M4M: To the solitary boy standing in front of the house with the red gate
"Ten years ago, I was taking summer classes as a college student in Davao City. Every day on my jeepney ride home, I'd pass by this house with a red gate along the highway. You were about my age, but taller, and you would always be there standing by that red gate, watching life pass you by.
This happened like clockwork. Every afternoon, I would see you. We would catch each other's glances every so often. It was amazing. But the jeepney would move so fast, and our connection would be fleeting.
Walking by your house never crossed my mind because I was too scared then. And why would I? I didn't want to come off as creepy. I mean, what would we talk about? But I enjoyed seeing you by that red gate every day that summer, wondering what was on your mind.
When that summer ended, I never saw you again." —Jay, 26
W4W: To the Katie Holmes lookalike at National Book Store
"It was at a National Book Store more than 10 years ago. Broke AF, I was low-key reading Danton Remoto’s Ladlad behind the shelves.
'He was my prof back in Ateneo,' I heard someone say.
'Am I fucking wearing a tag that says you can talk to me?' I muttered. Then I took a look at you. Earth stopped spinning for a second. These words popped into my head: Katie Holmes pre-Scientology.
I do not remember now what we talked about. After a while you said you were heading home. We said our goodbyes and I went back to reading.
A few oblivious seconds later, it clicked.
I ran out of NBS as fast as I could, managing to see the back of your head as you passed through the mall doors. By the time I got outside, you were crossing the street…and getting into a jeepney which then sped away.
I went back to that NBS every day for a week, spending hours at the mall, waiting for you to show up. But I never saw you again." —Rhea, 30
W4M: To the boy standing in line for the public bathroom in Baler
"Two years ago in Baler, while I was standing in line to use the public bathroom, our eyes met.
'Hi!' you said. 'Sorry about bumping into your surfboard a while ago; it was my first time. Where are your friends? Or are you friends with them? Classmates? Officemates? Hahaha. I'm with my cousins over there,' you nervously, quickly added.
'Hi, no, it's okay, it was my first time to surf, too!' I replied. 'Oh, I personally know two people from my group, but the rest, strangers.'
I was caught off guard, an awkward girl in a bikini bottom and no contact lenses on. Is this real? I kept asking myself. Is this beautiful stranger really talking to me?
We exchanged stories as if we had known each other for years. We laughed, teased, and shared our next adventures. We were strangers, yet why did it feel so comfortable and so easy just talking to you?
Suddenly, the door to the bathroom opened. 'Go,' you said. I hesitated a little but walked towards it, smiled, and shut the door behind me. Then I realized we didn't get each other's names.
I went out, hoping you were still there. You were nowhere to be found." —Kat, 27
M4M: To the stranger I got to ride the bus with twice on the same day
"I had decided to take the bus to avoid the hassle of searching for a parking space. Once inside the bus, I took a window seat. You got on and chose a seat beside me even though there were a lot of other vacant seats. I took a glance at you and found myself drawn to you.
The conductor told you they were not passing by your chosen stop. I should have advised you where to change buses after you muttered to yourself that you'd just get off at the next stop. But I said nothing. I watched you alight the bus.
Later that day, I headed home later than I should have. I let two buses going my route pass me by because, with the crawling traffic, there was virtually no difference whether I got on this bus or that.
Once I got on the next bus, I saw you by the window. My seat was chosen for me.
I asked you if you were, indeed, the one I rode with this morning. You confirmed with a nod.
I waited for a cosmic sign to crystalize a conversation. I let you finish a call, a game on your phone, a call again and another game, but I waited too long. I heard you tell the person you were on the phone with that you were getting off in five minutes. Still, no words would come. I moved to let you pass. I watched you go.
If a third ride sharing happens in whatever form, I will no longer hesitate to invite you into my world." —Bienne, 42