To be honest, I always intended to write about this at some point. Since one of my dear readers asked directly, that’s an indicator that it’s time to do so.
What do I mean by “invisible”? I mean anonymous, to go about unnoticed on purpose. There have been advantages to being invisible throughout my life, so I have cultivated more invisibility. Here’s some of the backstory:
If you were to look at me, you wouldn’t be able to easily tell my ethnicity aside from the fact that I’m white-ish. The gene pool in which my family swam includes branches from six different diverse known cultural sources, and there may be more. I’m a bit shorter than average, but not so much that it’s noticeable. The same goes for weight. I did get chubby at one point, from poor nutrition and a long period in a desk job, but I’ve lost those pounds so now I’m back to average-thin. I shave my head as a matter of convenience, so my hair color and style don’t provide clues about me. I’m older than I look, which is an invisible advantage because I look like someone right in the middle of age ranges. Young people don’t perceive me as that old, since I don’t look it and I’m aware enough of current culture to talk about it. Older people accept me because I can speak their language and act like them. I wear generically comfortable clothes, and drive a small, common make and model of car. My wife pushed for me to buy a bright blue car, which I did. It’s attractive, but a bit too noticeable for invisibility. My previous cars were that gray-silver color that no one notices, including police. I’ve gotten two traffic tickets since buying the blue car.
When I was a teenager, this country was in the period of rapid social change and tensions called THE SIXTIES. If I took a strong stand in class, it usually ended up in a visit to the school counselors. On the other hand, if I shut up and smiled generically, everyone on every side of an issue assumed I was one of them! I began to explore the uses of invisibility for observation. This is the method employed by undercover police too, but my motives were more innocent. I was just so amazed at how much people will assume about you if you don’t say anything and are just…there.
I’ve gotten a lot of jobs over the years that I wasn’t really qualified for on paper, because invisibility works so well in an interview. I got more positive response by just mirroring the positions taken by the interviewers than I did expressing my own opinions. I didn’t offer dishonest opinions. I just didn’t offer any at all, but rather spoke in support of the attitudes the interviewers put forward. It turns out this is a big part of the Dale Carnegie method, to gain influence by supporting the positions of others before advancing any of your own. Was I being manipulative? Well, yes, I was trying to make them hire me! More often than not they did. I’ve had very few job interviews that were unsuccessful. Many times I’ve been offered the job on the spot. Sometimes employers got angry and fired me once they realized I wasn’t qualified, but they only had themselves to blame for offering me the job in the first place.
I try to adapt and learn quickly, so I have worked in a variety of industries. I worked in retail sales for a decade, managed a couple of photo studios, and then temped for seven years. I did some performing while I was a temp, worked at a press clipping bureau and had short-term jobs in various areas of the entertainment industry. The only job I excelled at for a significant length of time was as an audio restoration specialist, revitalizing and remixing old films and TV shows for re-release. Now that the studios have exhausted most of their catalog of classics, that kind of work consists of spit-polishing episodes of The A-Team and other programs of similar “quality”. That job was great for ten years, then not so great for another four. I went back to school to gain additional credentials. Now I work in medical imaging, which I like because it helps people directly. I hope to become excellent at it, but it’s too early to tell. I started writing a blog to have something constructive to do while I wait for another state to issue me a license. My wife and I intend to move there because the rest of my extended family lives there already, and she wants to retire from her job of 30 years.
Finally, I’m invisible in here because even if I were to write long posts about who I am you wouldn’t really know me, nor I you. We can know and accept and enjoy little things about each other and spend some pleasant time exchanging ideas, but that is not the same thing as being close to someone, being known, being understood personally (as opposed to intellectually.) It’s the same kind of illusion of intimacy you get in a phone call with a nice person you haven’t met face-to-face. When you do meet, there’s a profound difference. Much of the message that passes between people is non-verbal and can only be experienced when two people share an actual, physical proximity. There’s a BIG difference between cyber-reality and REALITY.
So there you have it. If we passed each other on the street, you wouldn’t recognize me. You might not even see me.
I would, however, still offer you a smile.