I am 61 years old. I have crow’s feet (which really are laugh lines). I have a good smile—people seem to notice it more lately, as though I were the Cheshire Cat—an invisible thing but for a smile.
Several times recently I have been at a counter paying for something, or boarding a
plane or some anonymous thing like that. The cashier, or flight attendant has been
staring right through me as if I am just another old person getting out her VISA or
looking for her seat. Then I smile and say something. And suddenly they smile back
and say, “Oh, what a beautiful smile.”
Now, I always follow that with, “And same to ya.” But I can’t help wondering what it
was about me that made me invisible in the first place? Am I fading away with age?
It’s a sobering thought until you add a little magical thinking to the equation.
What might the advantages be of having such gathering camouflage? Who could I
sneak up on? What can I get by with? How can I profit from this new invisibility?
One thing I have started doing in this kindness-starve polarized new climate of ours,
is sneaking up on people and being nice. It’s a real kick in the pants! Today I scared
a kindly African American janitor to death when I held the door to the museum open
for him. He really was afraid at first to go through a door being held by an old-ish
looking white woman.
I consciously didn’t say a word to the suburban mom who butted in front of me at
the department store today. With my 60 something invisibility cloak firmly in place,
she didn’t think twice about being more important than me. After all she had a pre-
teen daughter with her and they had places to be—surely more important places
(like dance lessons) than I might have (like taking new socks to my elderly father).
But the clerk noticed. She saw my Cheshire smile, and gave me one in return, a
quiet, “thank you” for not making a stink about the slight to both of us. Clearly she
already has some significant “camo” experience.
I’m finding this to be kind of fun actually.
Another “camo” thing that I am experimenting with is not being noticed at all by
those in my former career field. As a consultant this is a lot of fun too.
A) I can wear whatever clothes I want to while I am conducting business,
B) When I am conducting business I can sleuth around and get all kinds of
things done that I couldn’t get done before
When you are invisible nobody really notices that you are changing the
philanthropic landscape of a particular area of need, so they don’t argue with your,
or criticize you, or tell everybody why your idea probably will never work.
But the thing I really think I need to spend a little more time playing with is being
creative. This is the one that finally, after all these years I really need to embrace.
Think about it—I can dance around the back yard, I can plant a garden full of
flowers and no grass in the front yard, and I can write and write and write and not
worry so much about what people think of me because after all—I’m invisible.
There are so many ways that being invisible can actually be a blast. You really can
make your life easier. You should try this technique. It really is the bee’s knees.
(c) Janie Wilson
July 25, 2018