I’ve never had great luck getting picked up at bars—in fact, I can count on one hand how many times I’ve been hit on at a bar. One hand that got tragically mangled in a bizarre fencing accident, leaving me with two fingers. Seriously.
Where I have had great luck? Public transportation. On the 6. On the L. Walking out of the subway. Walking to the subway. On escalators, buses, and planes. And in each instance (except for that one time that I was drunk and would have said yes to a house plant) the guys that have successfully picked me up had a few things in common. Here’s what works, for the next time you spot your soul mate on the go:
Avoid premature flirtation
The only thing that feels more awkward than shuffling off the train after silently staring down that cute guy without saying a word for 20 minutes? Besides writing the follow-up Missed Connection? Jumping the gun, getting shot down, and not being able to escape. (You won’t get shot down! But just in case!) You’re not paranoid: the entire train car is looking at you and judging. Some of them will probably blog about it later. So, take your time, and…
Establish eye contact first
Anyone who’s ever been on the receiving end of a creepy, lustful gaze knows this: When someone is eyeing you, you know. So, no need to startle: give them a moment to acknowledge your eye sexing before you go in for the kill. If they put on their headphones and shove a book between the two of you when they catch you looking, they might not be into it. Their loss. But if they look like they might be interested?…
Start off with a little white lie
“How are you liking that book? A friend just recommended it to me.” If they are holding a book, whether or not you have ever heard of the title, this is the thing to say. Saying this does two things: it communicates that you are perhaps well read or least able to string together a sentence, and it gives you something to say other than “uhhhh let’s have some sex?”
No book? Ask if that bag is vintage. Where that watch is from. Comment on literally anything besides how much you’d like to fondle their genitals and you’re earning points. I once agreed to go on a date with someone who commented on my JANE magazine and said he loved it. He was lying and I knew it, but it was a friendly opener that got us talking. I met another man when he asked me for a cigarette as we were walking out of the subway. I didn’t smoke. Neither did he.
Ask where they’re going
Proceed with caution with this one—inquiring about destination generally works in proportion to the commute. Cross-continental flight? Ask away and you may spark a conversation about travel. Crossing the street? She’s reaching for her pepper spray before the question is even out of your mouth.
Wait until the last minute to seal the deal
Two subway stops before your destination. A handful of blocks, if you’re on a bus. Five minutes until landing, if you’re in flight. Don’t ask them out until there is an exit in sight for both of you. You may think it’s only awkward if they turn you down, but it can backfire even if they say yes early on, too. Ask too soon and suddenly you’re experiencing first date jitters halfway into a 6 hour flight, deciding between pasta and chicken for your in-flight meal, willing yourself to stay awake so you don’t drool on them, and making awkward mile high club jokes.
Be direct—and daring
Repeat “I never have to see this person ever again” to yourself however many times you need in order to muster up the courage to ask them out. On a date. No mumbling about a phone number where you can text them, maybe, sometime, if that’s cool? No shrugging and flaccid offers to “Facebook each other”. Sorry, no—you’ve come this far, and whether you’re asking someone out online or on a bus, proposing an unambiguous date goes a long way. Happy travels!
Diana Vilibert is a freelance writer living in Brooklyn and on the internet.