Commuting is Life and Smiling is Contagious: How I Set Out to Make Everyone’s Day a Little Better on the Tube

I moved to London a month ago. My daily trip to work takes me from East London all the way to the West on the H&C Line. Turns out, I am not the only one who spends a good part of their morning & afternoon with TfL. People are generally on auto-pilot. Strict no-smile zone. But HEY: Commuting time is life time. Why would you ban all kinds of happiness and enjoyment from such an essential part of your daily life?

The commuting-ecosystem is habitual and strangely fascinating at the same time (I would love for Snoop Dogg to narrate the scene on a packed 7am Northern Line train in mid-July). The minute that my life as a commuter began, my curious self promptly started observing everyone around me. My data-loving self immediately brainstormed ways of using this daily recurring trip to accumulate all sorts of data. And my superhero-self wanted to make the world a little better.

Hence, I came up with a simple concept on my very first day of work:

Every morning, when I would enter my train at Whitechapel station, I would look around & count the people smiling on their morning commute. The thought of what I am doing would always make me crack a little smile. Then, I would look around the cart again and count all the people I infected with my smile. I tried my very best to make it a happy smile. Not the creepy kind.

I loved the idea. I had big plans. After a year of doing this, I would have solid proof of how I made all these mornings a little brighter and all these strangers a little happier. I would crunch the data and run statistical models & algorithms on the correlations of my smile, other smiles, weather conditions, weekdays, and train-delays. All of this would culminate in one tremendous data-project with fascinating visualizations and bulletproof analyses.

I won’t keep you in suspense any longer. Here is a mind-blowing sneak peek at the first month’s data of changing the world:

OK.
Never mind, then.
The average reaction can quite accurately be described as “Why the fuck is that weirdo smiling like he doesn’t belong here?

Project aborted. Bottom line:
Smiles don’t belong on the Tube at 7:30am.

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