Monday, November 30, 2020

INVISIBLE

I was reminded recently of another effect from the Covid pandemic.  A lot of us are becoming invisible to the public.  Those close to us see us but to everyone else, we have become just eyes and often unruly hair thanks to the necessary mask wearing.

When I use to shop, anytime I made eye contact with a stranger, we would usually smile and maybe make a casual comment about the price of peaches or how to tell if a cantaloupe was ripe.  Now, no one even looks at another except if they are not wearing a mask and then we have a moment of mental sniping. We zip through the stores with a purpose.  I am sure I have passed friends and just didn't notice. Then the other day I was reminded of what we have lost. I was actually seen.

I had a doctor's appointment right before lunch.  Afterwards, I was a bit hungry so I stopped for a rare treat, a drive through burger. The line was long but I had no where else to go so I just sat in my car and waited. I was not wearing my mask for the employees were behind plexiglass windows. 

When I drove up to the window, a young girl around 19 or 20 handed me my senior diet coke. Then her eyes got wide and she brightly said, "Hello" like she recognized me and then paused a bit before saying,"there".  Kind of what I do when I see someone I think I know but can't bring up a name. They become "there".

I really don't know anyone in town her age or even as the grandchild of anyone I know but I smiled back.  Before handing me my burger, she said, "You have the prettiest hair."

I was totally shocked for I haven't had a professional touch my hair in 9 months.  Actually I have been feeling quite raggedy looking for the past 6 months but manage a surprised, "Thank you."

I gave my mirror a glance and thought, it has to be the color and not the style for there is no style.  My hair was nice and clean, no products and the sun was making it shine a bright white. 

But then it hit me. Whether she thought I was someone she knew or she was just an exceptionally nice employee, she had actually seen me and by making a personal comment, I was no longer invisible. And yes, I realized I have missed being visible. 

Sometimes in a conversation with friends the question will come up as to what super power would we like to have. While many say flying, I always thought being invisible would be cool so I could be that fly on the wall in the White House or someone famous's home. May have to rethink that answer if ever asked again. Also from now on think I will make a conscious effort to "see" others, maybe even compliment a perfect stranger. It really felt good. 

Do you miss being "seen" by strangers?  I  certainly didn't realize I had until she showed me how nice it was to be "seen".

53 comments :

  1. Well, that was a nice day,getting a burger and a nice compliment about your hair, and feeling visible! Plus, as a bonus, you gave your kitty an extra amount of her precious alone time.

    My hair has entered what looks like an old Hippie phase, all except for my bangs that I can cut myself. The rest has grown down below my shoulders now and I am going to have to find a good way to wear my hair pinned up soon, that doesn't feel like someone is doing voodoo on my head. My hair has also gone brown with some gray in it. It has been blond, except for a brief time when I tried darker brown hair (not good), for my whole life. It's current brown color is due to various health issues where I haven't been able to color it myself.

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    1. susie,
      I do feel badly for those who color their hair. Hope your health issues ease or better yet, the vaccine works and we can again go to the beauty parlor. I sure miss it.

      Delete
  2. Patti, this sure put a lump in my throat. How sweet that drive-thru girl was, I’m sure your hair did look very pretty but I’m guessing these poor people see masks ALL DAY. I can see the weariness in the tired, worn out checker’s eyes at the supermarket. It would sure make me happy to see Arkansas Patti’s smile! (You know you radiate niceness, I can feel it thru my laptop screen :^)

    PS 3 weeks ago I met some family for dinner at an outside restaurant back home, including a sister who hasn’t seen me in a few years. She was the last to arrive and when she approached our table, she screamed “DOUG YOUR HAIR!!!” (In the last couple years my hair has turned snow white.) A lot of people turned around to look, I sure was embarrassed. A little later, an older woman at the table behind ours tapped my shoulder with a utensil (haha) and said “I think your hair looks very nice.” It sure made MY day :^)

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    1. Doug,
      I love how that lady came to your defense with a nice compliment. I think I know the drive through where her granddaughter works:) We both got a delightful boost.

      Delete
  3. I hear you about being invisible. It's fine with me, though, since even with a mask and all, people seem to recognize me easily enough, making me wonder why. There are plenty of little old white-haired ladies in my town, why do they recognize me? :-)

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    1. Djan,
      Maybe you are wearing a purple jacket? I know there is a lady in town that I only recognize in that she has a really unique jacket. If she ever loans it out, I'll be in trouble:)

      Delete
  4. I've noticed that too - I'm particularly bad at paying attention to others while I run in and out of the stores. When I do, I always smile and hope it shows in my eyes (Tyra Banks used to call it smeyesing)
    I bet the young clerk thought she recognized you, and then realized you were someone else. I've done that many times. It was lovely of her to give you a sincere compliment.

    Take care and stay well!

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    1. Eileen,
      Pretty sure you are right and she really had a nice way to cover up the mistake.

      Delete
  5. I only shop at the Walmart pickup. I order my groceries online. I have come to know the various associates who bring out my groceries and remember them. They can see me because I can see them. Otherwise, I am totally invisible.

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    1. Annie,
      I know, I use pick up for the big and heavy items but for meats and produce I still go in. That is when the cloak of invisibility covers me.

      Delete
  6. I haven't been "seeN" since I turned 60.
    This was a lovely story Patti. I'm glad she was kind.

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    1. Margaret,
      Aww I doubt that. Yes, she really was a kind person and I hope she realizes what an impression she made. We all can do the same with very little effort.

      Delete
  7. Yes, I too miss the casual greeting, the acknowledgement that I am here. On the other hand, I used to be insulted when I saw someone walking down the street, and they crossed to the other side to avoid me. Now there's usually a visible shrug, and nod of understanding that we're all in this together.

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    1. Tom,
      Know what you mean about the shrug and nod. That seems to come up when we almost run into another's cart.

      Delete
  8. I haven't thought about it so I don't think I miss it. At the post office yesterday, a guy asked is I needed to buy tires for my Jeep. The girl who put my groceries in the car at Walmart asked if I was from Germany and told a story of her mom. So I felt seen, I guess. Mask and all.

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    1. Inger,
      How nice that you live around aware people. Thankfully, you don't have to feel like you are missing anything.

      Delete
  9. What a beautiful post, Patti. I hadn't thought about that invisible-ness during the pandemic. It is so true. I hardly ever look at people when we're out on our weekly visit to the co-op. It's just shop and get out of there. We are losing that eye contact, that smile, that warm and wonderful moment of "hello, I see you." Thank you for sharing that moment.

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    1. robin,
      We are so intent on our mission in the stores that we do tend to keep eyes only on the prize. I do miss the casual contact.

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  10. Patti, your post is right on as usual. I am one of those people who put on my mask and hurry on my way not really looking to closely at those around me. My one thought is getting back to the car to take the darn thing off again! That interaction at the drive thru was lovely!💖

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    1. Susan,
      Yes, most of us do the exact same thing for we are trying to get what we need and get out of there.
      She really did make my day, enough for a blog post.

      Delete
  11. I truly miss the eye contact and causal comments when I shop for groceries. The grocery store used to be my favorite place to go. Not anymore. Hopefully, the middle of 2021 will bring us all back from being invisible to others.

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    1. Jean,
      I sure hope so. It was always so pleasant to exchange smiles and comments. Pretty sure when the masks come down, we will get back those casual connections.

      Delete
  12. This is a great post. I am glad that girl made your day wonderful and special. It is very touching.

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    1. gigi,
      Yes she did and I just wish I had let her know.

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  13. I'd prefer being invisible...I am a loner (wall flower) being in public places. But when I AM out & about with masked people, I can read their eye expressions & know they're smiling. Which makes me say hello.

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    1. Anni,
      I thought I could read eye expressions too till one day with my mask on, I smiled big time and watched my eyes. Then I snarled a bit and darned if my eyes didn't look similar. Guess I need to work on that.

      Delete
  14. What a great post. I had not thought about it but I do miss talking to strangers while hiking trails out in nature. Frequently I would run into people and have small conversations. Now, I get 6-feet off the path and hope they hurry past.

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    1. Sue,
      Isn't it sad that now we fear people that we use to enjoy seeing.

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  15. Strangely Patti, I felt more invisible before COVID and masking. Occasionally a shopper would accidentally run their cart into my ankles as I stood (invisibly?) in line. It always puzzled me how folk didn't see my 5'8" personage. Now fellow shoppers spot me clearly and give me welcome space. I like it!

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    1. Florence,
      Social distancing has really been a boon for your ankles. Doesn't that hurt when they do that?

      Delete
  16. I'm a bit like Anni in that I like the "invisibility'... and don't mind the mask (as long as it doesn't have to be on too long). I do however miss the occasional smile one would get from strangers. Now it's hard to tell if anyone is smiling. But we don't get out much, so it doesn't really matter. I'm hoping by 'Spring' things may be better...??

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    1. Rian,
      I know, it is hard to tell if the eyes crinkling are from smiling or irritation. Me too on Spring.

      Delete
  17. I noticed when masks were first being used that people didn't seem to look at each other. Now I do notice that people are more likely to greet each other with a nod of the head and a smile in the eyes. Except in my condo neighborhood. I have never in my life been surrounded by such unfriendly people. I am not sure it is entirely attributable to COVID either.

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    1. Olga,
      I am delighted that most people are making a point to acknowledge eachother but it is sad that the people in your neighborhood haven't caught the nice factor. Let's hope it is temporary.

      Delete
  18. The funny thing about Hawaii. People tend to talk to each other and make eye contact. I still somehow recognize people and they recognize me... most of the time. I feel like everyone might even be more friendly than usual because of the mask and wanting to "see" the other person. When we go walking almost everybody waves or says "Good morning" to each other.

    On the other hand, friends hailed me at Sam's Club one day and we started talking. Art was in the dairy cooler area and came out and stood close to me. I said something to him to include him in the conversation with our mutual friends. It took me a moment to realize that though he was wearing a similar t-shirt from Art... yikes! It wasn't Art! I told him I thought he was my husband and he laughed out loud and said he kind of figured that.

    So embarrassing, but we all had a good laugh.

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    1. Kay,
      OMG that is just the funniest thing ever. Thanks for giving me a good belly laugh.

      Delete
  19. We are not invisible. We greet people when we walk. We make eye contact with others over the tops of our masks when we grocery shop. We make an effort to try to connect.

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    1. Linda,
      More power to you and maybe it will catch on. Now more than ever we need to connect.

      Delete
  20. I don't mind being "invisible" but I wouldn't choose it as a superpower. Instead I would choose to be able to read, write, understand and speak every language.

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    1. River,
      Now that would be a really useful super power. I'll remember that next time I am asked.

      Delete
  21. I speak to the neighbors in my community, often just a high as they walk pat my patio or whatever, and multiple people have asked me if I am the new person and if I now live in so and so. But I am not even going into stores as a rule (may have to break down for the quilt shop) so yes, I miss a great deal.

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    1. Barb,
      Think you will notice the lack of eye contact if you go into a store. Now a quilt shop might be different for people are not in a hurry there.

      Delete
  22. That was a nice thing to have happen to you. I am so seldom away from my house and I don't feel alone because I have 4 girls that I sponsor and they come by and we sit out on my deck. I have been thinking all day about how I will be able to tell them that it is getting too cold to do that and I've promised my kids that I will not have indoor people. I have to agree and especially that all the girls still work and when outside we can distant ourselves and don't have to wear masks. That will not be possible shortly and I dread telling them ... so I will be very much alone and will be better able to answer you then. Thank goodness for blogger friends like you Patti.

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    1. Ginnie,
      Ooh, that does bring up a problem for a lot of people who have been relying on the outdoors to provide protection. Unless you live in the tropics, that will change.

      Delete
  23. It was rewarding. I miss the meet-ups we have experienced at the stores.

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    1. Susan,
      I know they aren't earth shattering but were welcome diversions. Sigh.

      Delete
  24. Yes, exactly right. I'm a very social and used to be (overly?) friendly in grocery stores and other public places. I now feel anonymous and distant. Still better than catching the Covid, but it's definitely been a downer.

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    1. Margaret,
      I so agree with you. It was something I didn't even know I would miss till it disappeared. Hope we are both visible soon.

      Delete
  25. I kinda wrote about this on my blog, I tend to be seen because I look a bit out there. I think people see my clothes but not me and yes it's nice to be noticed, even if it's for the wrong reasons!

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    1. Joey,
      Enjoyed your post. I am sure as stylish as you dress that they do often see your clothes and not you but at least you are seen.

      Delete
  26. I've put blue or purple in my gray hair for several years now. Missed it until just recently when a friend offered to be my temporary hairdresser. So I am seen that way. For now, it's good.

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    1. Linda,
      Now that makes being seen easy. Wish I had thought of that before all this started.

      Delete
  27. Yews, I had not thought of that, but I be I've been invisible to everyone too.

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