Tuesday, May 11, 2010
Are you invisible?
Why is it when you have nothing to eat in the house its almost guaranteed that a friend will pop in unexpectedly? This is what I thought yesterday when I offered her Ryvitas and cheese for lunch! I am still in Mothers Day mode and feeling incredibly lazy however my embarrassment spurred me to go out and buy some food and restock the cupboards!
We had some interesting conversations, my friend and I. The usual laments about the weather, children, husbands and health issues and the benefits of visiting a sangoma (African witch doctor) to assist with all of these. Then she raised the topic of being invisible.
At first I thought it she was hallucinating due to the lack of food then I thought perhaps it was the Sangoma thing, but then she explained that as a woman of a certain age,she was feeling ignored and overlooked whilst out shopping, expecting service in the coffee shop or when in contact with banks,garages and government departments. She explained that she sat and watched prettier, younger or male customers get served before her and she wondered if I got overlooked these days or was it just her. Was this an 'age' thing?
I confessed that while being served at WW last week,the two assistants serving me (don't ask me why it takes two people to serve one) had hardly acknowledged me and had carried on their conversation as if I wasn't there. When they were finished I thanked them for their undivided attention and commented that I had never been served with such apathy. They promptly thanked me - as if I had complimented them, either they didn't know the meaning of 'apathy' or didn't recognise my sarcasm. I just put this down to lack of customer service training and poor management. I hadn't thought that I was invisible .... now I am beginning to wonder how long I may have been invisible and the possible advantages this holds!
It seems that we spend our childhood wanting to attract attention, wanting to be noticed. Our adolescence desperately trying to blend in by looking the same, dressing the same, our mid life searching for success and its trappings that guarantee us to be noticed and envied. So perhaps in our fifties, the pendulum swings back and we do become invisible again, but not by choice this time.
I quite like the idea of being invisible - it allows you to observe, analyse and eavesdrop. Like the character of 'The Invisible Man' it means that you can mingle among society and hear what it really has to say. Invisibility allows you to ignore people that you know and don't particularly want to speak to and in turn it allows them to ignore you. You would think that it would allow you to go out without makeup wearing your gardening clothes, slippers, odd shoes or odd earrings - which I have on occasions. On these occasions I am guaranteed to bump into and be seen by everyone I know.
So, No! I don't think its an age issue, I think its a bad manners issue and I think businesses that want to utilise the vast spending power of the grey brigade and retain their many, many 'Baby Boomer' customers had better start paying attention or we may start dropping our crockery onto the floor in coffee shops to get attention - even worse we may stop coming into your business and start ignoring you.