The other day I had the weirdest experience. I went to my local Subway to get dinner. So I walked in, and stood behind the father and son that were in the process of having their sandwiches made.
There was only one person at the counter, so I just stood there.
Then a different guy came out from the back and rang up the father and son. Then he went back into the back room. I figured at that point he was in charge, and had some big, important job to do in the "back".
So I stood there.
And I do want to take this opportunity to pat myself on the back - I was pretty patient. I didn't try to look like I was in a hurry. I didn't sigh, fold my arms, or tap my foot. I just stood there.
At this point, a couple walked in the store, and got in line behind me. And we all stood there.
Then, in a truly surreal moment, the guy from the "back" came out to the counter. He walked up to the couple behind me, that just walked in, and asked what he could start for them.
As I continued to stand there, I was a little bit incredulous that he didn't even acknowledge me, and started their sandwiches.
I looked at him, then looked at them. I looked back at him, then at them.
At this point, there was an entire inner-dialogue that I won't bore you with, but it did involve a selection of words, and whether I should say them...And I didn't say any of them. I'm SO proud of myself. :)
Suddenly, the guy at the counter looked right at me, and asked "are you with them?" Meaning, the father and son that were leaving, and at this point standing about 20 feet away from me. I answered "nope". And he proceeded to apologize profusely for not helping me. Everything ended up fine, and all's well that ends well.
This whole episode got me to thinking. At certain points in our country's history, there were entire groups of people that were treated the exact same way that I was. They were invisible.
Even today, people that don't fit into our same social groups or in our same social-economic group, sometimes they are invisible. It made me think about if I've ever walked downtown and treated a homeless person as if they are invisible. Then it made me think about if I've ever treated ANYONE else as if they are invisible, for any reason.
I'm sad to say that I'm sure I have at some point or another.
I have vowed to take this encounter with invisibility, and make it ensure that I never treat anyone else as invisible. No matter what.
Here's to being blind to status and anything else that we use to judge others.