Neutralize Invisibility

A ramble, Gentle Reader, a ramble out of control…

How did it happen?

Too many of us?  Lives burdened by distractions? Skewed values creating a culture of glitz rather than a society of humans?  Giant political or philosophical  gulfs separating us, one from the other?   Anger and disdain pushing the on/off buttons?   Taking the grunt workers so for granted that we cannot separate the man from the machine? All of the above?

Here’s the deal.  None of us, not a single one of us, is invisible.  That guy wielding the shovel, digging the utility hole, is working–doing a job that makes every day function a bit better.   The kid with the weed eater clipping at the park is doing that job so the park is enjoyable.  A man in a grungy uniform stained by the waste of the world handles our mess.  Ditto the trash collector, the street department workers, the janitors–cleaning up the messes.

Convenience store clerks, some struggling with the language, are working doing a job the rest of us need so our lives can function.  There is a face, a person, a life behind every invisible human handling a job that many of us would not do.  For a time, after 911, we turned a light on our military, taking time to acknowledge their service, thank them personally whenever possible.  Now, in uniform, many men and women move in the invisible lane again.

Rethink Going Postal as a derogatory tag.  My mailman, Kurtis, is terrific.  Our Parkville clerks, Tammy and Ella, are outstanding.  Going Postal raises the bar for any service industry.

Sitting in the Kansas City Rep lobby, Molly and I did a bit of people watching.  Here the invisibility of sameness is challenged by orange hair, fur coats, tattoos of imagination, hauteur couture outfits, ragged jeans, flesh-colored tights, make-up extraordinaire, uniforms of individuality.   At one point, I asked 17-year-old Molly to be certain I never got too weird as I aged–no  blue hair and cheek roses.

“Why?  Weird is good.  I like weird.”

This from a beautiful young woman who has never owned a pair of matching socks, who relishes ‘ugly sweater’ day at school knowing that she can best the best of the ugly, has won acclaim for art work, took the SAT over because 2 points less than perfect was not good enough— a small, quiet bundle of intelligence and maturity.


Touche’ and my point, even though I did not know that the ramble would find that point of weird vs. invisible.

Neutralizing invisibility is fairly simple.  Take a moment.   Make eye contact, a nod, a thank you, a recognition, a smile to acknowledge one human to another.





Silent Below Stairs, Invisible Above

An older movie, Gosford Park, takes the viewer to an English manor portraying the caste system in ugly splendor.  For that purpose, the movie is excellent though a huge waste of talent.  The script smothers the action with far too many fine actors and gives them too few screen minutes to develop character.

Below stairs, the men and women in ‘service’ cater to the whims of the spoiled, the selfish and even the nastiness of those to-the-manor-born.  Entitlement and acceptance are equally evident. This was a difficult movie to watch.

Several days later I am still thinking about the treatment of modern-day servants, our service industry as in fast food, retail, etc.   A recent coffee stop at McDonald’s left me shaking my head in disbelief at the condescending and dismissive attitude of the drive though person.   She really was over the top in attitude.

Why?  Well, the woman was in her forties, working fast food, close to minimum wage and dealing with a public that probably makes her invisible.  In the economy, she may be one of the thousands laid off from better paying or more satisfying work.  Maybe the wall of attitude was her protection.

Several of my blogs speak to appreciation of blue-collar workers and the services they provide.  Blue collar helps keep the country operating ‘below stairs’ while experiencing the invisibility of the servant class in the movie.

My appreciated and valued friend, Two-Names, reminds me to speak the words “Thank you for your service” to military, police and fire personnel.  Most worthy and important advice.

Let’s take that sense of appreciation to those who tend to be invisible in daily commerce.   Take an opportunity for a pleasant exchange, a real smile and a genuine thank you.  When attitude responds to your effort, so be it.  Move on and accept that some lives are so burdened that attitude in the only wall that protects.

Facets Of My Prism

Never met a half full glass that didn’t belong to me.  Those half empty ones are not on my table…well, most of time anyway.

If you visit with me often, you know that perception is a major player here.  Each of us can twist the kaleidoscope by emotion.  The facets of the prism change.  One persons ho-hum turns to another’s oh-no.

Bordering on half empty is the flashing blue light in the rear view mirror of my ’99 Buick granny-mobile.  The important back story is that I am the single most annoying slow driver in this state, never giving myself the 5 mile over leeway.  The speedometer needle is right on the mark.

Bob and I complain about the 55 to 65 mph drivers that stir the dust on our 30 mph country road.  Recently added intersection double roundabouts have added to the number of cars breaking the law on my turf.

And now?  Now I am among that number thanks to a very efficient and friendly Platte County Sheriff Officer who forgot the first rule of efficient and friendly treatment of old women in granny-mobiles…the warning ticket.  This citation is the real deal. I can never say never again.

Carpe Diem still possible?  It is.

A Man I Know, unemployed for over a year, phoned to say that the first day on the new job was great.  Why?  Because every worker seemed to have a work ethic that got the job done with care and efficiency…no slackers, no one hiding from work.  Rather, this was a group of blue-collar men doing this job without complaint.  That glass is brim full.

Not a total vegetarian, I tend to avoid meat if possible.  Yesterday, seizing the day required eating a hamburger simply because a gentle old man handed me this gift of his generosity, saying “No mustard.  No catsup.  Didn’t know what you like.”  Thank you, Jake.

Finally, my prism includes Missy, an email correspondent.  We connected through a mutual friend and I shared information requested.  The generosity of her response reminded me of important issues.

We, women, need/treasure one another.  We slip in those moments of grace in the 1,000 ways we seize each day, Carpe Diem.  When we take the time, develop the trust, share illumination through our stories we validate the ordinary to an extraordinary level.  Thank you, Missy.

The facets of my prism are pretty amazing.

Under The White

A muffled whoosh of wings,

Deer tracks mapping the browse,

Steady scrape of mental on concrete,

The whiff of diesel as tractors fire-up,

Sand crunch underfoot,

Cold forming crystals with each breath,                                                                                                                                                                      Beautiful white, drifts and berms covering the land.                                                                                                                                                                 Only the trees stand tall enough to outreach the snow.

And under the white, blue is working.   Blue collar.  Men and women who so often do the under-belly work are out there.   Trash pick up happens.   Major traffic ways get sanded and plowed.  Groceries are on the shelves and blue checks, stocks and even gets us to the car.  Waste water services continue.  Buildings are maintained.   Gas and electric workers handle outages despite conditions.  Shelters function.  Truckers move.  Buses roll.  Railroad whistles blow the crossings.   Mail is delivered.

Blue moves over, under, beyond and despite the white.    Thank you.