Are You Invisible?

By Meg Stearns, VOICE vendor

Meg Stearns. credit: Giles Clasen

Meg Stearns. credit: Giles Clasen

Have you ever felt invisible? I bet you have. While waiting for the bus one day, a woman sat down next to me and we struck up a conversation. Somehow we started discussing the trials and tribulations of travel by bus and foot. She said pedestrians are invisible. Having been hit by a car, among other lovely incidents, I had to agree. Another woman got on at the next stop. After talking with another passenger she too said, “ pedestrians are invisible.”

This got me thinking about my job as a Denver VOICE vendor. Every day that I work I simply greet people with a “good morning.” I never ask for money, nor do I rant and rave about the homeless. I let people come to me. The last thing I want to do is lay a guilt trip on people. 

While vending the VOICE, I find that most people ignore me; maybe they’re afraid I’m going to accost them begging for money. There are, after all, many people who do that. I learned early not to take it personally when people ignore me; if I did, I’d end up in the loony bin. Some people are too distracted to notice me. About 50 percent of people on their way to work sport earbuds or headphones. Others are glued to their cell phones. I’m not knocking technology, but I am sad that it often lures us away from human contact. Maybe I’m just old fashioned. The thing about being ignored is it can make you feel invisible.

Not everyone knows what it’s like to be homeless, but there are a lot of situations in which someone may feel invisible.

Anyone who grew up with a sibling knows what I’m talking about. You end up feeling overlooked at some point. Maybe your sibling was very accomplished at something—or maybe they were always in trouble or always sick or in the hospital, thus sucking up most of the parents’ attention. 

If you weren’t the football star or popular kid in high school, you probably also felt invisible at some point. Did you ever have a job where you were treated like you were JUST the secretary, the warehouse worker, the waitress, or the cashier? The list goes on. We’ve all felt invisible at some point. 

On a more pleasant note, I have met many interesting and kind people while vending; some have even become friends. If nothing else, working on the 16th Street Mall reminds me of how grateful I am to be off the streets and working despite my disabilities, invisible or not. ■