Do People Ask For The Time Anymore?


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

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29 thoughts on “Do People Ask For The Time Anymore?

  1. In the South, that is in the United States we ask the time of strangers and strike up conversations, you might check out my Southern Culture articles. I’m even friendlier than that. At checkout lines I start conversations and tell jokes to the people working there to give them a break from the monotony and make them feel appreciated and human, not just a price scanner. But then again I suffered a concussion so maybe I’m just nuts. o,O 😀

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  2. In Canada I still get asked the time once and a while, mostly if I’m waiting for the bus with other people. In my current town its rare for someone to say hello when passing out on the street but it still happens. I live in a bigger city now but when I lived in a small village everyone talked to everyone all the time. Now I don’t even know my neighbors.

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    • Hmm so it must be something to do with cities but I don’t think there should be. There’s always the idea that people in cities live such busy live that they have no time for anyone but that isn’t true. We all have a few seconds or minutes to have a conversation. We need to make our communities more close knit I think.

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      • I agree we do need to make time and get to know people. I don’t think the reason people ignore everyone isn’t because of busy lives, and that you were right when you think there is a lack of trust.

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  3. I love striking up conversations with strangers. Unfortunately, I tend to find common ground with people whilst stood at the bus stop or train station as we’re complaining about the terrible state of public transport rather than just to say hello!

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  4. Heh that is totally true. I think it’s because so many people are strangers here in London, and everyone is in such a rush and indeed, in fear after a few overblown attacks.
    I noticed that I got used to zero social interaction after living here for a few years. Actually it gave me an idea for a post! Stay tuned…

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    • Hmm but then again so many people are strangers elsewhere, or should I say were strangers before social interaction meant they became friends.
      Yes that rush to get somewhere must play a part alongside misplaced fear.

      Haha I okay I shall!

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