Today as I walked home from college, a surprising phenomenon occurred. A man driving past in his car paused by where I was walking, asked me for the time, said thanks and continued on his way.
Now that may seem normal to many people but as we all know, London is a city which has a marvellous fear of social interaction. Try walking along a busy high street and see how many people wish you a good afternoon or ride the underground and see how many people strike up conversations with their fellow passengers. The answer is none. Londoners are not really a trusting bunch.
This is why the man asking me for the time surprised me and made me think of how once, a friend described how thieves ask you for the time in the hope that you will pull out an expensive phone that they can snatch away. These things may happen but stories like this also create a sense of fear and distrust to such an extent that a person legitimately asking for help is not refused but simply not heard as the immediate reaction we are taught to a stranger approaching us is to lower your head and walk faster.
This is what vulnerable children are taught but as we grow older, surely we should be able to judge for ourselves? The fears that are spread regarding thieves, robbers and scams may be true but this does not mean that we erect barries around ourselves and do not interact with a fellow human purely because we believe any person on the street is likely to pose a threat to us.
It is of course a complex dilemma and needs people to dismiss stereotypes as well as those who do act in a negative way to stop. In the meantime, wear a watch, as that way you can give the time without having to look at your expensive enticing phone.
Until Next Time
A Worried Student