I made a grave error of judgement the other day. There I was, wending my way across town on the Jubilee Line, when an idea sprang to mind.
Opposite me sat a young man who looked like he’d had a rough day.
‘Hi mate, how’s it going?’ I piped up, hoping a little jollity might brighten his day.
‘…Had a good day?’
It was clear the gentleman was in no mood to make a new friend, but still I ploughed on. Perhaps it was the awkwardness of the situation that propelled me. Or maybe I was just in one of my moods where I feel it is within my means to make the world a better place with the cunning use of a smile.
‘…Where are you headed?’
‘None of your business.’
A response, at last! But perhaps not quite the one I was hoping for… And with it, my friend took to his feet and darted across the carriage in search of a seat as far away from mine as possible.
“Well that didn’t go very well!” This time it was the neighbour to my left whom I addressed. ‘You try to be friendly, and…’
My new friend interrupted.
‘People are just stressed,’ he said.
There I was, hoping for some words of encouragement, a kindred spirit. But alas, he too was tired of the rat race, longing to get home after another long day at work and in little mood for conversation.
Still, onwards I pressed.
‘Don’t you think it’s a little sad that no-one talks to each other these days?’
The man looked me up and down quizzically, but said nothing.
…Of course, it isn’t always like this. A couple of days later I was wandering through Notting Hill, feeling rather peckish, and stumbled upon a bustling café.
With only a little over £2 to my name, I popped inside to ask how far it would stretch. The friendly lady behind the till told me I could have a Cornish pasty and a jam tart.
Now this was my kind of place! Wandering outside, I picked a spot at a table besides a trio of apparent regulars.
‘Lovely day, isn’t it?’ I said.
‘Is too!’ came the trio’s response, in unison.
Before long, we had discussed the weather (this is Britain, after all), the local area and how long they had frequented this particular joint. We were firm friends.
I suppose an opinion piece isn’t really an opinion piece unless one states an opinion, but mine has been inferred throughout.
I agree that London can be stressful. I too have off-days when I’d rather a cocky 26-year-old didn’t verbally accost me on the tube.
But by and large I’d suggest that the world, including and perhaps especially London, would be a brighter place if we could all just get along.
Let’s spread the love, London.
Image by stuartpilbrow courtesy of Flickr