This morning seemed to be another “Invisibility Cloak” day.
We all have these moments, when people don’t notice us – by mistake, by design, or by our own silent acceptance of not being seen.
When it is by mistake, it is usually because someone’s thoughts are overwhelmed or are consumed by hand-held technology.
These types have a name: distracted.
I once walked directly into the back of a rafting bus parked next to the Nantahala River. This bus was bright blue. It was huge. How does a human not see a parked bus? Eyes looking down at the phone checking in on Facebook. Thank goodness the bus wasn’t a person.
Other times, it is by design. There are too many people who feel that their hurry is more important than your time invested in waiting.
These types have a name: entitled.
I’ve been there and been the one to do that to another human. I still regret grabbing an empty parking space away from a driver who had waited for god knows how long in a crowded Maryland shopping mall on Christmas Eve. My car was better positioned when I came zipping around the corner into that row and I took advantage of my “smart” driving skills.
Within seconds from exiting my car to walk to the mall entrance, I felt terrible. I returned to my car and removed it from the parking space. As self-punishment, I re-parked at the farthest outskirts of the mall. But it didn’t fix it for the other driver who had moved on.
I was wrong. It was Christmas Eve for crying out loud. I continue to lash myself with guilt. It has been 6 years.
Then there are those of us who accept our own invisibility. We are doggedly there for others, always putting the needs of other people ahead of our own desires, always the one to listen to the stories of others with no return of the conversation back our way. We shrug it off when the most important people in our life don’t take an interest in us.
These types have a name: me.
My “invisibility cloak” was a big and musty garment.
Over the years it did a slow creep up and over my shoulders and then over my head, face, voice, and heart. It was damn heavy.
And when, finally, I allowed it to smother me to the point that I could no longer breathe, I found the strength to toss it. When I did, I was able to fly. What emerged was a new person. My ideas and thoughts had value.
Rock, Paper, Scissors
The people of Catalonia are unusually kind, patient, and courteous. Since moving here I have not witnessed cutting remarks. I don’t think spite exists in this culture. I really don’t.
Likewise, distraction and entitlement are rare. But this morning I was double-teamed by these elements at my favorite cafe.
As I waited at the counter to pay, an older woman entered the door stepped in front of me and placed an order. Then as I contemplated whether to react, a younger woman, looking down at her phone, walked up from my other side and asked for a second coffee. I felt invisible.
Was it the return of: me?
No, my cloak was nowhere to be found. I caught the eye of both of these women, and in my most diplomatic Catalan, I addressed the barista and asked her to help these two customers before she rings me.
The Barista saw me, heard me, and smiled knowingly. She understood my intent. “No, they can wait,” she replied and gave to me my total.
My speaking up with graciousness was my paper to the rocks of entitlement and distraction. I am pleased that I didn’t resort to scissors, as saying something spiteful would have only cut ME down to size.
I hope you have a great day ahead, thanks for reading.
Lisa (and Séu)
ps. My daughter Séu and I are headed 2 hours south to Barcelona to meet up with our friend Stephanie who is touring Spain and Catalunya with her young son. The luxury bus is a fantastic way for us to travel and costs only $25 pp roundtrip (more on that in a future post).