The problems with invisibility

10 Feb

I have this non-friend who wishes that she had the mad ninja skill of invisibility. (Well she told me she can’t be my friend, she is certainly not my enemy – she’s really quite wonderful, and we know way too much about each other to be “acquaintances”. Although she refers to me as an “acquaintance” which I find, well, insulting. So non-friend it is.)

This got me thinking; since frequently I am virtually invisible, what a mistake it is to actually want to be invisible. Just yesterday, I was standing in the back corner of an elevator when this woman kept backing up on me. She backed up when people came into the elevator and she backed up when people left. She just kept backing up. Finally, I said “Don’t you think you should tell me your name first?” She was so embarrassed – claimed she didn’t see me.

Didn’t see me! How in the hell do you not see somebody in the elevator?

This is, unfortunately, not an uncommon episode. There have been times at restaurants where the hostess will ask does anyone else need to be put on the list, and I will raise my hand and wave and she will turn to her coworkers and say. “Good we’ve got everybody” and proceed to walk off. Other times I will put my name on the list to be seated and see other people arrived after me get seated before me. I will go up to the desk and stand, and instead of asking me “Can we help you?”, they will continue doing their routine work like I’m not even there. Once I get their attention, they say, “I’m sorry I didn’t see you.” I will tell them that others have been seated in front of me and they will retort, “I’m sure that’s not true, we must have called your name.”
“No you didn’t! I have been sitting over there for an hour and no one called my name!”
“Well everybody above here has been crossed off the list.”
“Yeah, well there’s my name and there is no line through it!”

There was this one time when I was standing on the curb after a rain when a car drove by splashing water all over me. I move away soaking wet and somebody said, “What an interesting water shadow; it looks just like a person. I wonder how that happened?” Then I yelled something like, “I’m soaking wet over here! How in the hell do you think it happened?”

One of the reasons I don’t like mass transit is that if it’s not a mandatory stop and no one else is there, the bus or train will drive right past me. You might think I’m paranoid, but I’ve had this happen on several occasions. I feel like Milton in “Office Space.”

You know, when you go to the park it’s one thing to have a bird shit on you; it’s another thing to have a generously overweight person tried to sit on you while you’re on a bench. And talk about trying to cross the street when you have the right away. There have been several times when I have been almost hit by a car failing to yield the right away while I’m on foot or on a bicycle. One time at work, when I chased down the driver and told her she almost ran over me (there’s been several times that chased down the drivers) this young woman who had almost hit me, her passenger door was close enough for me to grab the handle and open it, proceeded to tell me how terribly rude I was to berate her in public. No apology for almost running me over – I was a rude man! I should be ashamed of myself for such behavior in public. I was speechless.

I will probably think of several other examples later, but the point is being invisible is not what it’s cracked up to be. You can’t get waited on, people try to run over you and will walk right in front of you and stop and then wonder where the hell you came from when they do see you.

And that is all I have to say.

Update: 20-Feb-2010
Another perspective on “Invisibility” from Judy Clement Wall AKA jdistraction: on Twitter. Her blog is Zebra Sounds,


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