Saturday, September 15, 2012
Why are Londoners Grumpy?
But the grumpy reputation belies a penchant for a stream of apologies that politely tumble from commuter's mouth at every opportunity. Bump into someone, and both parties apologise profusely as they continue on their way - no matter who was at fault a 'sorry' is always given both ways. On the commuter belts of the the tube, sorry might be the only words exchanged on a Monday commute (besides "mind the gap").
I think visitors to might be mistaking London quietness for rudeness.
Of course, if you catch a tube at 8AM you're going to be met with a wall of glum faces staring at the morning paper. But won't you see the same morose faces staring out of car windows in bumper-to-bumper highway traffic in Los Angeles?
I think the quietness is in some ways a defense reflex - surely common to all big cities. Why would you have a chat with the person next to you on the tube? When you live in a city of 16 million strangers, it would be hard work to be temporary friends to them all. Much easier to be polite if your paths cross (saying sorry to each other as you both rush for the same train), but ignore each other otherwise.
And I think that's a really important differentiation about Londoners. They're not grumpy so much as in their own world. If you're lost or need directions, almost anyone would stop to help. You just need to accept the fact that a total stranger isn't going to compliment you on your cute hairstyle. They'll leave that to the people who really matter (your friends).