Bid to cheer up commuters
By Chris Johnson
A MERRY marketing manager is on a mission to get the capital's "miserable" commuters to be nice to one another.
As the season of good will approaches, 28-year-old Liz Akers has launched a scheme enabling stressed out commuters to pass each other "niceties" tokens - simply for being friendly.
Inventor Liz Akers
Miss Akers, of Vesta Road, Brockley, dreamt up the idea after becoming sick of the mass of miserable faces on her daily commute to work into central London. There are now 100 tokens in circulation following a launch party in Soho at the weekend, each bearing their own unique name.
Miss Akers said: "London has a bad reputation as a city which is rude where everyone keeps themselves to themselves. You look around the train or bus, and some people look about as happy as a Rottweiler chewing a wasp. But I want to shatter the Victorian myth we are a nation of miserable people with a stiff upper lip."
The clay tokens come in an array of colours and carry the address of a website where token owners can register their act of kindness, before passing it on. Miss Akers, who works for a publishing firm, says she hopes the initiative will help break down barriers. People in possession of the tokens can pass them on to someone simply for smiling at them, giving up their seat, or just because they like the look of someone.
The Niceties tokens
Miss Akers said: "Who knows, it may end up as a way to meet people. I'd be happy to match-make people if both parties were willing. But essentially, it's not just about rewarding niceness, but about reminding each other we all deserve good manners. Today, for instance, I gave up my seat for a woman who looked pregnant. Upon closer inspection, I don't think she actually was, just a bit porky in the belly. But it didn't matter. The most important thing is that we are being nice to each other."
There are around 30 core members of what Miss Akers has dubbed "team nice", consisting of friends and family who will help her in her quest to spread niceness. She also wants to tackle bystander apathy - where commuters may chose to bury their head in the sand, rather than help someone in need.
Miss Akers added: "Essentially, I think a lot of people lack confidence and are more concerned about drawing attention to themselves than in helping out. I remember one hot summer I was on a packed train when someone nearly passed out. I cooed in a sing-song voice, could anyone give up their seat for this lady?' "Then a few minutes later someone else felt faint and I shouted Ah na no, we've got another one' - and everyone was in roars of laughter."
How it works
• 100 tokens were distributed at a launch party in Soho on November 18
• Owners of these tokens are now giving them out on their daily commutes
• When you receive one, log on to niceties-tokens.com to register your token name, colour and how you got it
• Then, pass your token on to somebody else to spread more niceness'
• As time goes on, people will be able to track whose hands the token has passed through by viewing the website
ABOUT TUBE CHAT
I'm up for a chat on the tube" has been running since early 2006. The project is not only about facilitating chatting on the tube, but also to locate the purveyors of the (anti-) social construct that people shouldn't chat on the tube. The core reason for the project is to encourage a questioning attitude towards "the way things are".
They are roughly 500 "I'm up for a chat on the tube" badges roaming the tube network, plus a handful of both "I'm up for a chat on the bus" and "I'm up for a chat on the train" badges also on the loose.
Further involvement in this project is more than welcome... get in touch by mailing me at email@example.com
This is a non-commercial, not-for-profit project.
GET A BADGE...
Anyone who is up for a chat on the tube, bus or train is entitled to wear a badge.
If you chat to someone on the tube when wearing a badge, pass it on, let me know, and I'll post you another one.
To receive what is rightfully yours send a Stamped Addressed Envelope and your email address to:
PO BOX 45362