When I Become Invisible

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Yesterday, I saw a post on a Facebook group that made me think about the times when I become invisible. This would be an amazing super power to have. Imagine the things you would see or hear. Unfortunately, I’m not talking about a hypothetical situation based in tales of fiction. I’m talking about an all too common occurrence.

Two cartoon people with an invisible person between them.

There are times when I’m out in public when people speak right past me as if I’m not even there. They prefer to speak to whoever I’m with. They probably figure it would be too awkward or they are just assuming that I couldn’t possibly answer a question. These questions aren’t about advanced mathematical concepts or interpreting the latest scientific research. No. They are questions like, what does she want to eat? Does she like this or that? What’s her address, phone number etc? What’s wrong with her? Why does she wear glasses? I could go on, but I’m sure you get the point. Everything they are asking, I would of course know the answers to, so is it really necessary to ask a third person?

Two women shopping.

Many years ago, I went to Cancun for a vacation. While I was there, I had my hair braided. A girl I was with had it done and I thought it looked cool. Anyway, when I came back I got lots of comments and compliments on it. It’s definitely not something you see around here every day. A friend and I stopped at a convenient store and while we were checking out, the cashier asked my friend where I had gotten my hair braided. My friend obviously knew the answer, but she did something I didn’t expect. She said, “I don’t know. Why don’t you ask her.” The woman got quiet for a few seconds and then turned to ask me where I had my hair done. She seemed a little embarrassed and she should’ve been. I’ve never forgotten how my friend responded in that situation. She spoke up for me, but she didn’t speak for me. She let this person know that it’s not okay to speak past me and that I’m perfectly capable of answering questions that are directly about or involving me. I wish more people thought and acted like her.

Mother and daughter at cafe.

Another time, my mom and I were eating lunch at a restaurant. The waitress stopped by and put the drinks on the table. She starts talking to my mom and mentions how she should open the straw for me. I was so shocked and pissed off that that’s all I remember from their conversation, but I snapped at the woman telling her that I can open my own straw. Here is what I don’t understand. How can someone who walks into the restaurant, picks up a menu, orders food and appears to have a normal range of movement not be capable of opening the flimsy wrapper on a damn straw? Do you need 20-20 vision to do that? I’m curious… I’m also curious how this waitress thought I was going to eat.

The waitress didn’t respond to me and quickly left the table. My mom told me how I shouldn’t have snapped at the waitress because she didn’t know. She’s an older woman and she probably doesn’t know any better. She was just trying to be helpful. She told me I should stop getting so irritated with people and just let it go. This is exactly how these situations usually play out. We are just expected to take the treatment given and be gracious even if the treatment is shitty. Oh, they were just trying to help. Oh, they don’t know how to talk to you. Oh, they are scared. Well, they weren’t talking to me. They were talking past me and assuming I can’t do the simplest of tasks. I won’t accept that kind of treatment. Would you? Would you accept that for yourself? Would you accept that for your partner, your friends, or your children?

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