The kindness of strangers

August 10, 2011, 12:43 AM GMT+0

If you’re prone to a wardrobe malfunction, it may be better to keep the company of friends, our poll suggests, as while more than four out of five British people would tell someone they knew if they had accidentally left their flies open, less than a quarter of the population would tell a stranger.

By a similar token, nearly nine out of ten people would inform someone they knew if they had accidentally tucked their skirt in the back of their pants. In this case, however, half of people say that they would tell a stranger that their skirt needed adjusting.

  • 82% of British people would tell someone they knew if they had accidentally left their flies undone, while 9% would not
  • 87% would let a friend or acquaintance know if they’d accidentally tucked their skirt into the back of their underwear, while just 7% wouldn’t
  • However, when it comes to telling strangers, just 23% of people would inform someone they didn’t know if they’d accidentally left their flies open, and 50% would tell someone if their skirt was tucked into their pants
  • Women are most likely to tell people they know (94%) that their skirt is tucked in their pants, while almost two thirds (63%) would tell even people they don’t know
  • The older generation are far more likely to offer assistance than their younger counterparts, with 30% of over 60s saying that would tell someone they didn’t know that their flies were undone, compared to just 10% of the 18 to 24 age group

Fittingly, the kindness of strangers is the focus of a new campaign by London Underground, which aims to collect, and share, an array of kind acts from Tube users.

Several stations in London play host to the artwork of Michael Landy in a project entitled ‘Acts of Kindness’. Landy asked London Underground customers and staff for their stories of everyday acts of kindness witnessed on the network, and the resulting tales can be viewed on the project's website, and on banners and posters across Central Line stations and trains.

The Underground may conjure images of sardine-packed, grumpy city commuters, but Landy has proved there’s room for kindness, even on the Tube. More than 200 stories of helpfulness have been submitted so far, including one account of particular relevance to our poll.

‘On a Friday night I boarded the train dressed up ready to go out, and thinking that I looked the bee’s knees. A woman came up to me, and very kindly, and quietly, told me I had my skirt tucked into my knickers.’