The Invisible People
Invisible is not a word anyone would correlate with my name. In fact, I would be described as the exact opposite. I am outgoing, like to bedazzle everything, and wear pink. I talk to everyone and move into party hostess role in mundane places like the grocery store. People remember me and my social circle because we are loud and probably annoying. We are never invisible.
Now that I am getting older my “sparkle” tends to take the back seat, focusing my attention on our little girls and celebrating that they are stars of the life show. I don’t get dressed up or bother with makeup but my girls are always fabulously dressed, brushed and excited to flirt with the world.
A few months ago my Mom was in town and we were doing errands(i.e. going to Lunch, Target and Coldwater Creek since CC isn’t in her area). People constantly comment on the girls and how fun they are since they smile incessantly and interact with anyone who will look at them. My Mom loves it (OF COURSE what Grandma isn’t proud of her little ones??) and always engages in conversation with strangers. During our lunch we were talking about their attention and my mom said something I hadn’t ever considered. “The hardest part about getting older is becoming invisible.” I was shocked. I AM my mom’s mini me. She has always been the outgoing, hostess with the mostess, girlfriend group leading, impression leaving gal. People LOVE my mom. How could she feel invisible???
Since then I have thought a great deal about her comment. After my initial skepticism I started delving into the possibility and the reasons why. Guess what I realized? She was absolutely right. In our superficial culture age isn’t celebrated it is discouraged. Americans go into debt to get surgery to look younger, more vibrant, thinner, more voluptuous. Adults are terrified of looking old because the elderly are deemed irrelevant.
When I realized my mom might be right I did a very unscientific completely based on my own marketing skills study to see what I found. Luckily I didn’t have to go far. Our area is full of retirement communities and virtually every store or public place I go the age demographic is significantly higher than my own.
What I noticed sickened me. The utter disdain toward the elderly is prolific. I watched in horror last week when a couple was attempting to use a grocery cart to stabilize themselves on their way to the parking lot. The grocery cart became caught on the floor mat and they were unable to continue. An employee watched it, walked around them and went back to work. They were stuck at the entrance. At least 20 customers walked around them to get in and out of the store without so much as a glance. I became enraged and yelled for the employee, chastising him for not helping the couple. He looked at my like I was crazy and mumbled a half hearted excuse. I helped them out and told them to have a great day. The two were gracious, lovely, and appreciative.
The visible eye rolling I have watched in the past month is enough to start a crusade. For some reason our society is annoyed that the people who RAISED us, CARED for us and SACRIFICED are now old. How dare these people age and not walk as fast, drive as well or pick out their spices in a timely manner?
My Mom was completely right. And I am devastated. Our culture is slimy and lame. How dare we feel superior because we are younger? Since the conversation I seek out anyone in my path who might need help. I offer a smile and inquire about their day. The response has been wonderful and encourages me to pay more attention to those outside the ‘optimum age demographic’.
If it weren’t for my mom telling me I wouldn’t have noticed. I am not a super cool evolved human being needing snaps but I am a woman who will strive to not allow ANYONE to feel invisible. What about you?