Tuesday, 24 April 2012
When a stranger approaches you on a London street to hand you a thousand pounds in cash for picking up someone else's litter, what would you do?
Last week, a wealthy man did exactly that. His project, called Wearelucky., involves the mystery millionaire himself travelling across the globe, handing out a grand in cash to complete strangers - those he sees doing good deeds, or just because they look interesting. The only catch is to do 'good' with the money.
But when he brought this idea to London, giving away the money seemed more difficult than he first anticipated, where many people were rejecting his money in a distrusting fashion.
Maybe it's due to the fact that London is one of the most densely populated cities in the world (A statistic on an underground poster today stated that there is nearly five thousand people per square kilometre) that Londoners are so sceptical. The many people on the daily commute asking for their hard earned cash, teamed with horror stories of various pickpocketing and street scams, would make even the most gullible think twice about accepting a wad of cash from a complete stranger.
Living in a populated city like London certainly makes you more streetwise and aware of your surroundings, but despite the masses of people we may walk past or sit opposite on the tube every day, if you decide to strike up a conversation with a fellow commuter, you're greeted with a combination of suspicion and mild terror.
Last week, after a lengthy discussion with a friend about such experiences (and the idea of a man approaching strangers with a grand in hand just for good karma), I decided to strike up a conversation with another woman on the train home. A conversation that lasted all of two minutes, I felt I'd done something nice and personal in what can often be an impersonal town. I never expected this temporary friendship to go any further than the exit of the station, but I was expecting some good karma.
But then things became a little weird. We went our separate ways, only for the woman to chase me down the road to ask for my name so she could add me on Facebook. Her reasoning? She liked my tights. I gave her my name to not appear rude in true English style, went home and immediately changed my privacy settings. Then it hit me - I was just as cynical as those who would not accept the cash from our mystery millionaire, and was swiftly reminded why people do not make friends on public transport, and how despite the millions of people who live in and around London, it can still be the loneliest place on the planet to some.