Stop, Look, and Listen

A few weeks ago, I was leafing through John Hegarty’s new book on creativity, which had a page on the importance on taking your headphones out to experience the world. Despite my need to listen to some kind of 2004 Indie classic on my way to walk every day, it wasn’t until I jumped on my usual commuter train on Tuesday that I realised just how right he is.

It started like most of my train journeys do. People standing in set positions on the platform. The slow creep past the yellow line as the train approached to gain extra seconds. Squeezing past the tall man’s knees to get a seat by the window only to trip, send his laptop flying, and fall into a semi-controlled heap whilst trying to maintaining an air of professionalism.

Then the driver took over.

‘Ladles and Jellyspoons, if you stood in the doorway then tut-tut, shame on you! Now, please have you tickets and smiles ready for inspection.’

‘For those of you who just joined at Gerrards Cross, congratulations, your boarding technique was excellent! People from High Wycombe, don’t feel bad, but their technique was much better. Now, please stand clear of those big closey slidey things.’

He then stared singing ‘Oh what a beautiful morning!’ over the tannoy ending with ‘everything’s going my way… except those of you getting off at the next station, South Ruislip, who’ll be leaving in droves for the Central Line. Don’t worry, we won’t hold it against you.’

And finally: ‘Ladies and Gentlemen, we’re shortly be arriving at London Marylebone where this train terminates. Fly, my little munchkins, fly – and have a wonderful day.’

This is obviously a great customer experience (and yet another reason ‘Why I love Chiltern Railways‘), but going back to Hegarty’s point above, I noticed that the people with headphones in were missing all of this (as well as having a growing sense of paranoia as the people all around the started laughing in unison for no obvious reason…). They were missing out on something fairly unique, something that was a story to tell, something that undoubtedly would have made them laugh and smile on the way to work.

So before you hit play on your Spotify Funky Friday playlist today, take a few minutes to see what’s going on in the world around you. It might just be more interesting…

I really hope you enjoyed this article. If you did, I’d love you to subscribe to my blog at to get new thoughts sent to you on an infrequent basis, and find me on twitter @johnJsills.


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