The approachable revolution

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Hop on any public transport in London and unless you have headphones in permanently (guilty as charged) you will notice that it is 96% quiet. No chatter, no small talk and unless it’s the 3.15 bus, no laughter from the upper deck. Last week I decided to get the fast train home and as the train slowly began to pull out of the station I had that really awful wiggly eel feeling in my stomach that maybe I’d got onto the wrong train. I leaned forward and asked the woman opposite me if I’d made a mistake. She literally jumped. Her whole body moved as if she’d sneezed and she stared at me with wide eyed shock and then burst out laughing. I thought she was pretty rude, but I kept my game face on and waited for her to finish snorting to herself.

Her excuse for laughing at me?

“I’m so sorry, I’m not used to people talking to me. You frightened the life out of me!”

Really? I was sat facing her in quite a crowded carriage. I’m 5”1 and I don’t wear a balaclava or carry a baseball bat. Yet I frightened her for asking a question?

It got me thinking that we must (as a collective London being) be at a pretty far-gone state of self-inflicted isolation if someone asking for directions/help provokes a physical reaction. I’m going to make the effort to speak to more people on public transport. Ever the rebel.

 Anyone want to join me in the non-pushy but approachable revolution? I need a catchier name for the movement of people smiling and being generally open for human interaction rather than walking to and from work in a mindless haze like drones in a sci-fi movie or zombie franchise.

And yes, I was on the right train.

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