Dunne, who works for the National Health Service (NHS), said he was trying to “break down the barriers.” He was inspired to start the project after trying—and failing—to set up a staff Olympics with his co-workers.

The experiment, well-intentioned though it was, didn’t go down too well with taciturn Brits. Many took to social media to vent their horror at the idea of being forced to chat—or listen to chats—during their commutes:

It also didn’t take long for an anti-tube chat badge to emerge…

Dunne has no illusions about his initiative catching on right away. ”People don’t like to speak on the Tube, and they don’t like to talk to people on the street,” he said. “Sitting there making eye contact and trying to hand badges to people was difficult… I imagine most of them ended up in the bin.”

Some people’s reactions were “over the top,” Dunne said, but overall it had been a “pretty positive experience.”

If nothing else, it’s safe to assume the last few days Dunne has spent talking to journalists and keeping up with public reaction have given him plenty to chat about.

📬 Sign up for the Daily Brief

Our free, fast, and fun briefing on the global economy, delivered every weekday morning.