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The Day I Joined the Ranks of Invisible Older Women

Updated on June 13, 2012
The invisible older woman.
The invisible older woman. | Source

One day, I became an invisible older woman. It was not because I chose to, but because someone else chose to see me that way. On that day, my physical, social being was dismissed as though it were a pesky fly in need of being shooed off a pie.

Happy Fifty-first Birthday To Me - I've Become Invisible

On the morning of my fifty-first birthday I stopped by the local convenience store to pick up a cup of coffee to keep me company on the hour-long commute I had ahead of me. If I do say so myself, I was looking pretty spiffy, wearing a flattering suit I’d bought the day before and a pair of stylish heels that were surprisingly comfortable. At the store’s coffee service area, I filled a small paper cup with French vanilla coffee, covered it with a lid, and stepped to the back of a long line of customers waiting to check out.

Early Morning Pleasantries

As I waited, my thoughts drifted to the tasks I had planned for the day. I wasn't focusing on them, exactly, it was more like gathering them together in a kind of mental warm-up for hitting the floor running when I got to the office. A soothing drone of customers’ voices exchanging pleasantries played around the outside of my thoughts. A Will there be anything else, sir? or a Thank you and have a nice day! from the cheerful, young cashier filtered now and again through my woolly thoughts. Most of the customers were men, dressed in company uniforms or overalls and well-worn working boots, buying coffee and morning snacks, the usual crowd at the start of a work day. Directly in front of me, a young mother braced a child on her hip with one hand and held a small jug of milk in the other. The young cashier cooed over the baby.

Source

The Coffee Cup Gets the Attention

Finally, it was my turn. I placed my coffee cup on the counter along with a five-dollar bill, ready to greet the cashier with a smile and a Good morning! But she kept her eyes on the coffee cup, rang up the purchase, and said to the coffee, That’s 98 cents. There was no Will there be anything else, ma’am? for me, not even a glance in the direction of my face. She whipped my money off the counter, slapped the change down, and greeted the next customer with a cheerful Good morning, clearly dismissing me just like that fly.

My friends will tell you that I am seldom speechless, but that morning I had nothing to say. I felt as if the wind had been knocked out of me. Even if I had been able to come up with something smart, witty, or even kind, I wouldn’t have been able to muster the breath to deliver it.

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Invisibility - What a Birthday Gift!

On the morning of my fifty-first birthday, I had become an invisible woman, which as far as this young cashier was concerned, also meant useless, insignificant, unimportant, valueless, and just not there. I walked out of the store, got into my car, put the now sneering coffee cup into the cup holder, and looked in the lighted mirror on my visor. I saw myself, my face, ME. I pinched my arm. Yes, I felt the pinch on my very material body. I hadn’t changed, I hadn’t become invisible, but something else had changed. I pulled the car out of its parking space and started my commute to work.

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If you love to drive, as I do, then you know the places your mind can go above and beyond paying attention to driving. Driving can induce a state of relaxation, and in this state I let the events at the convenience store go where they would in my thoughts.

By the time I reached the office, I’d come to a comfortable place about becoming an invisible older woman in the eyes of others. I reasoned that it didn’t have anything to do with me, but rather with another’s perception. I actually felt sorry for that cashier even while I also felt a bit of vindictiveness at the idea that she’d be 51 someday, too. Let her deal with that when the time comes.

All in all, it was a good birthday gift in that it was a reminder of the way I was raised, as expressed so eloquently by H. Jackson Brown, Jr.: Good manners sometimes means simply putting up with other people's bad manners. The additional gift to me, and to the young cashier, was that I didn’t slug her in the jaw.

Good News

I don't know exactly why, but the young cashier was fired soon thereafter, and that was good news to me. I was happy to see her go. Maybe her being fired taught her this important lesson before she reaches 51: Equality is the public recognition, effectively expressed in institutions and manners, of the principle that an equal degree of attention is due to the needs of all human beings. ~Simone Weil

© 2011 Sally's Trove. All rights reserved.

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    • Casey White profile image

      Mike and Dorothy McKenney 5 months ago from United States

      Invisible? Nope...invincible. Great hub. I'm 67 and getting younger by the minute.

    • LaurieMaxson profile image

      Laurie Maxson 2 years ago from AL

      I can't say this happened when I turned 50, but it certainly has happened. I don't think it had anything to do with my age or how I looked but the attitude of the one on the other side of the counter :) Some people enjoy living in a self pity world, or one where the "world" is to blame, and they spread this through their actions. As we get older, I think we just recognize it more. whether you are 20, 30, 40 +, focusing on who you are and what you want to be and do in life, is what will make you smile through your teeth at the one who just doesn't get it yet :) You are better at 50 than you were before, and you will be even better at 60 than you are today :) You aren't invisible to us.

    • CarolAnnHeadrick profile image

      CarolAnnHeadrick 3 years ago

      Go read Dale Carnegie. All you had to do was speak up, tell the young cashier it was your birthday and you would have gotten a nice greeting. Afterall, you were the elder in this situation. Sometimes wallflowers are treated as a wallflower. It sounds like she was very busy attending to all the customers.

    • Matt Jordan III profile image

      Matt Jordan 3 years ago from Gulf Coast

      Well written. I like the meter and style. But I don't quite see the point. I tend to get dead pan, "Good morning...anything else...(hands me change) on days when I am quiet, unengaged. This doesn't happen often because I am almost always very sociable. It isn't my nature to leave the quality of a social exchange to a person standing in one spot, day after day, tapping on a cash register. I joke with the young ones, flirt with the older ladies, and just try to make a few seconds of their day fun. I hope if that girl was fired, it was for something else. Not being chipper is no reason to fire someone. Why would you wish her ill just for that?

    • profile image

      Adey 4 years ago

      I had a friend at colleague who saw every slight as because he was black. No this stuff happens to us all. Its not because you are old, its not because you are w women, it could be anything. They could have been distracted. They could have spotted you in the line and thought irrationally "why does that person look so miserable", it could be a mistaken identity and you look like the woman who shouted at the staff last week.

      Not everything is because you are "black".

    • Sally's Trove profile image
      Author

      Sherri 4 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania

      Riviera Rose, you said it all. The perfect description of becoming invisible. Now you are a mum to a raver. *sigh*

    • Riviera Rose profile image

      Riviera Rose 4 years ago from South of France

      I'm the same age as you are and a couple of years ago I was in the achingly hip seaside resort town of Brighton (UK) on a cold autumnal day. I was wearing a big raincoat and jeans and didn't look too terrible, or so I thought. A youngish man was handing out flyers for some rave/party/gig, and I braced myself to say no thanks. Needless to say he looked straight through me and only then did it occur to me that I no longer look like the raver, but the raver's mum. A blow to my ego but it did make me laugh.

    • LongTimeMother profile image

      LongTimeMother 4 years ago from Australia

      Yes, it is a regional or cultural thing. Here in Australia anyone of any age can call me 'mate' and that's fine and friendly. "Thanks, mate" or "What can I get you, mate?" is probably annoying to a lot of people but it reminds me I am an aussie and I love it because hearing it says I am home. I don't mind if I'm travelling in the US and I am called 'hon', just as I don't mind being called 'missus' in other parts of the world. But 'sweetheart' and 'love' are terms that indicate intimacy and most Australians reserve them for members of their family ... or very young children or senile oldies. How are they used in your part of the world?

    • Sally's Trove profile image
      Author

      Sherri 4 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania

      LongTimeMother, you clearly spoke for the other people near the counter with you.

      But I don't quite share your annoyance. I come from a tradition where waitresses in luncheonettes call everyone Hon, male or female, young or old. Those waitresses are a dying breed. Their first order of business is good service with a personal touch. Perhaps it's a regional thing. I guess I'll go out with them. :)

      Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts here.

    • LongTimeMother profile image

      LongTimeMother 4 years ago from Australia

      Being invisible doesn't bother me so much as an obvious lack of respect. I hate it when someone clearly much younger than I am calls me 'love' or 'sweetheart'. Give me a break. I hated it when I was 20 and I simply won't tolerate it in my 50's. When I was younger it implied that I was a child. Now that I'm older it implies that I am senile.

      I said to one salesperson recently "Ask me if you want to know my name, but do not call me sweetheart." Other people near the counter laughed and clapped. It was one of those magic moments. :)

    • Sally's Trove profile image
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      Sherri 4 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania

      Rosie writes, thank you for the good words. :)

    • Sally's Trove profile image
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      Sherri 4 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania

      TIMETRAVELER2, what a good comeback. I never think of those things on the spot, but sometimes do days later. Thanks to you, the next time I run into a "Suzy" I'll be prepared.

      You make such a good point...people sometimes don't realize how their behavior affects others. Your suggested retort is not unkind, but does send a wake-up call. "Suzy" may be more mindful in the future, not only of me, but of others.

      Thanks for a great comment!

    • Rosie writes profile image

      Rosie writes 4 years ago from Virginia

      Beautifully written - enjoyed tremendously. I will look forward to exploring more of your hubs!

    • TIMETRAVELER2 profile image

      Sondra Rochelle 4 years ago from USA

      What about this: "Excuse me dear, what did you say your name was? Suzy? Ah yes, Suzy. Well, Suzy, I'm really sorry you're having such a bad day. I hope it goes better for you"...and walk away. You'll never be invisible to "Suzy" again, or to anybody who heard your comment! This was a really good hub and I thank you for writing it. Voted up.

    • Sally's Trove profile image
      Author

      Sherri 4 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania

      LOL, mary615...you've just stated the case for invisibility. Love it.

    • mary615 profile image

      Mary Hyatt 4 years ago from Florida

      I think I became invisible at age 40! I always said I could go into a store and stash stuff in my purse and get away with it, cause nobody sees me. In restaurants I am invisible, too.

      Cute Hub. I voted it UP

    • Sally's Trove profile image
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      Sherri 4 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania

      ImKarn23, I like your style! So glad you found this hub, and now you have a new "follower."

      Perhaps the clerk was not only jealous of the "spiffiness" and calm demeanor, but also afraid of getting old. You know young kids, they think they are immortal (it wasn't that long ago that I thought that way...oh, the situations I put myself in thinking I was Wonder Woman). So, if she saw me as attractive, and older, that could set off a spat of insecurity combined with the fear of aging.

      Loved your comment and love your spirit in addition to your style.

    • Sally's Trove profile image
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      Sherri 4 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania

      Stephanie and Jools, you are awesome ladies in so many ways, and especially at this moment for coming around to a second read. This subject does deeply touch those of us who are of a certain age.

      Stephanie, I never said how long ago my 50th birthday was. I think we are both whipper-snappers. :) You might find it funny and endearing to know that today, while my mother and I did some thrift-store shopping, the lovely [senior] clerk coughed up that I (in addition to my mother) could take advantage of senior-day, half-off pricing, if I'd like, and she hoped I wasn't offended. What a trip! Guess I'm showing my age now. And proud of it. Mom and I are celebrating the day by making kielbasa and cabbage.

    • Stephanie Henkel profile image

      Stephanie Henkel 4 years ago from USA

      Well, compared to me, you're just a young whipper-snapper, but my advice is, don't let them get away with ignoring you! Old ladies Unite! I did enjoy coming around to read again...it's a great hub!

    • ImKarn23 profile image

      Karen Silverman 4 years ago

      Hi...you don't know me - but - i'm gonna throw my 2 cents in anywho...(those who DO know me won't be the least bit surprised..lol..

      Here's how i choose to see your experience, dear - especially because i'm a YEAR OLDER than you..lol..

      i believe that snarly, jealous, unevolved female saw you and your 'spiffiness' while you were patiently waiting in line with your coffee..

      i believe that your spiffiness - combined with always sexy confidence - just simply overwhelmed her with feelings of inferiority - and she chose to be snippy to you because it helped her feel better about herself for that moment!

      You must have looked SMASHING! Happy belated birthday...lol..

    • Jools99 profile image

      Jools99 4 years ago from North-East UK

      This remains one of my absolute favourite hubs, glad to come back for another look. DefinitelynotPC should keep taking the drugs!

    • Sally's Trove profile image
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      Sherri 4 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania

      You have a lot to say, too, definatelynotPC. All opinions are welcome. Thank you for sharing yours.

    • profile image

      definatelynotPC 4 years ago

      The point is made, over made and then ground into oblivion. Is this what we are? A nation of women crying about the changes in life that will occur? How trivial her life (and so vain) is to even think this is a real issue. It's a made up one. Is it no wonder men view older women as carrying far too much baggage. Constantly whining about nothing thinking it is something. Get over your self and move on...

    • Sally's Trove profile image
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      Sherri 4 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania

      Wow, Sanxuary, you have a lot to say. I wonder if you will write your thoughts into an article. Thank you for commenting here.

    • profile image

      Sanxuary 4 years ago

      If you did not recognize this gap until now you our doing pretty good. I have experienced this from both sides of the age spectrum. Women are far more discriminatory and women are more likely to play the age card to get something or to not do something. I do notice that mid age people are throwing the age requirements out the door and simply noticing people. Just as interesting is the lack of a generation gap in terms of day to day things such as music for instance.

    • Sally's Trove profile image
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      Sherri 4 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania

      Beth37, thanks for writing your interesting and sensitive interpretation of what might have been going on with the cashier. However, that was not the last time I'd encountered her, and her behavior was always consistent...charming to the young ones and ignoring of the older, specifically the older women.

      I, too, spent many years in one kind of customer service or another. I was always taught, no matter what, "Customer is King ." That doesn't mean we don't have to catch our breath after a particularly difficult encounter, just that the breath we catch should never be at another customer's expense.

      I'm so glad you enjoyed this read and shared your perspective. :)

    • profile image

      Beth37 4 years ago

      I enjoyed that essay. I'm turning 44 this Sunday and I work with a lot of very pretty teenage girls. I am definitely feeling you on the invisible note, however, I work in a grocery store in many capacities and am often called on to be a cashier. It is a grueling job, believe it or not, especially when you have a lot of pressure for speed, effectiveness, and customer service. You also wouldn't believe how incredibly awful customers can be, no matter how hard you try to please them I know there are moments when my eyes begin to glaze over and my smile begins to wain. Not to say you weren't correct in your assessment of the cashier, but it is possible she just gave out for a moment. It's possible you felt "safe" to her... like a mom figure or a fellow woman... someone who might give her the grace to just fall short for a few seconds and catch her breath. She may have dropped the ball, but it may have just been a moment of weakness and nothing to do with you at all. All that being said, I enjoyed reading your perspective.

    • Sally's Trove profile image
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      Sherri 5 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania

      LOL Angie! Another vote for subversion...as they say, if ya' got it, flaunt it. Thanks for the positive words, votes, and shares and for putting a smile on my face. :)

    • Angie Jardine profile image

      Angie Jardine 5 years ago from Cornwall, land of the eternally youthful mind ...

      I became invisible many years ago … and like you, after the first shock, it is a gift. You’re right. Now I can be as subversive as I like …

      Right now I’m about to walk through customs carrying my marijuana plant.

      Fab hub, loved it. Said everything I have ever thought but hadn’t the wit to put into words. Voted up and shared.

    • Sally's Trove profile image
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      Sherri 5 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania

      LetitiaFT, thank you so much for sharing your experience. No, 50, 51 is not 35. I remember an adventure I had with a young friend who was 19 while I was 31. I spent a weekend with her at her college, and her male friends hit on me, so to speak. When I told them my age, they got even more interested. That doesn't happen so much when we're in our 50s. Strange life. I think I'm just as desirable now as I was then. LOL

    • LetitiaFT profile image

      LetitiaFT 5 years ago from Paris via California

      Wish I could say I can't relate. I just hit 51 and have to agree with my friends who got there first, it's worse than hitting 50, more like hitting a brick wall. I remember back when I first realized a young man was flirting with me as an older woman. It surprised but ultimately amused me. I was 35. This is not that!

    • Sally's Trove profile image
      Author

      Sherri 5 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania

      Sharkye11, yes! You were taught better and so was I.

      I also share with you the experience of being around older people. For me, that had everything to do with being an only child. I identified more with grown-ups than I ever did with my peers.

      When I was growing up, my influences came from family get-togethers, a small and supportive town community, reading books, cooking in the kitchen with my grandmother, and playing in the street. Nothing like living electronically, meaning removed from real people experiences, substituting them with games and texting and facebook and that whole experience.

      I'd like to say, "We've come a long way, baby!" but we haven't.

      Thanks so much for your insightful and provocative comment.

    • Sharkye11 profile image

      Jayme Kinsey 5 years ago from Oklahoma

      I hate that attitude in younger people. I was taught better, and always preferred to spend all of my time with "older" people. Mostly because they had all the interesting life experiences I wanted to hear. People my own age hadn't done anything in life. That cashier didn't know she missed out on the opportunity to have an interesting conversation with a cool person! Great hub! voting up!

    • Sally's Trove profile image
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      Sherri 5 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania

      Right you are, CrisSp. Good manners are in short supply. Thank you for the share!

      Maralexa, I like your style! I'm going to have to use your technique. I hope you don't mind. :)

    • Maralexa profile image

      Marilyn Alexander 5 years ago from Vancouver, Canada and San Jose del Cabo, Mexico

      Hi Sally's Trove. What a wonderful story! I'm north of 65 (only 29 in my heart) and have been invisible on a couple of occasions when I was not dressed to the 9's. So one day when I was not receiving any attention from a cashier who looked at me and continued talking to her friend, I said a little louder than usual, "Excuse me dear, but someone called for a doctor. I am a doctor and I have my Mercedes double-parked so I could get here quickly." "Could I have a "tall Italian" to go in a hurry. And, please dear, keep the change." Stupid, I know - my cheeks were burning as I left, I was so embarrassed with myself.

      Loved this hub and all the comments. This is the kind of thing that keeps HubPages such a great place to 'work'!

    • CrisSp profile image

      CrisSp 5 years ago from Sky Is The Limit Adventure

      Happy to have stumbled upon this delightful hub. What a good read with certainly some lessons to learn. Funny too! Let's not talk about age but whatever happened to good manners and right conduct, eh?

      Sharing with fellow hubbers, in case they missed it.

    • Sally's Trove profile image
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      Sherri 5 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania

      I want a pic of that when you do, austinhealy. :)

    • austinhealy profile image

      Bernard J. Toulgoat 5 years ago from Treasure Coast, Florida

      Sally, you' re right : I never wore high heels...yet :)

    • Sally's Trove profile image
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      Sherri 5 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania

      austinhealy, I do appreciate your perspective, but you don't walk in my shoes or in the shoes of any woman.

      I draw no conclusions from one incident...did you miss the irony and humor?

      I'm glad you enjoyed reading this hub. And the best of luck to you, too. :)

    • Sally's Trove profile image
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      Sherri 5 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania

      Mary, so glad to hear your perspective from a culture that values elders. Unfortunately, the US culture doesn't. Our kids have come up without respect for older folks. Too bad for them...they will eventually be victims of what they perpetrate. Thanks for the good words and votes. :)

    • austinhealy profile image

      Bernard J. Toulgoat 5 years ago from Treasure Coast, Florida

      If I may say so, I think you overreacted a little. How can you come to the conclusions you have drawn based on the attitude of only one person. No matter what your age is (I'm a man and older than you by the way) a woman dressed with a new, flattering suit and high heels will NEVER be invisible. People may not like what they see in the end, but they will notice you. The mishap you experienced with the clerk happens to everybody all the time. 51 is by no means old. And if you think it is, I hate to tell you this but it's not going to get any better. You may not look as good as 20 years ago (who does ?) but I am convinced the situation is not as bad as you seem to think. In any case, I enjoyed reading your hub. Best of luck !

    • Sally's Trove profile image
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      Sherri 5 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania

      DzyMsLizzy, what a fantastic comment! Please, please turn it into a hub or article. I love how much damage you have the potential to inflict with your cane and cart, and I'm absolutely, positively certain rude people and unruly children aren't thinking that far ahead. Your tale could make a fantastic movie. It seems your husband is a great one for egging you on, too, to his credit!

      Seriously, I'm looking forward to the cane and cart myself...as my Grandma Ellie would say, "That'll learn 'em some teach."

      Thanks so much for the votes and shares. :)

    • Sally's Trove profile image
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      Sherri 5 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania

      bac2basics, your perspective, living in Spain, is so interesting. Different cultures do have different ways of relating to people in all kinds of situations, specifically, as we are talking here, in customer service relationships. I'm fascinated with that "butting in" business. I can understand, somewhat, customers being that pushy, but I can't understand a sales professional encouraging it. I wonder if it also happens to younger folks who are not yet at that invisible or near-invisible age. Maybe a study is in order there!

      Thanks so much for sharing your very memorable account. :) Oh, and check out Grea's website. She's got a ton of great cartoons.

    • Tashaonthetown profile image

      Natasha Pelati 5 years ago from South Africa

      This is great!

    • mary615 profile image

      Mary Hyatt 5 years ago from Florida

      Another reason I love Puerto Rico is those people really respect older people. They get in free to a lot of places, and are allowed to get in front of others in a line.

      I have always tried to give older people more respect and courtesy than younger folks.

      Great Hub./ I voted it UP, etc.

    • Sally's Trove profile image
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      Sherri 5 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania

      ignugent17, so right you are. There are privileges attached to getting older. I like the parking spots labeled "Seniors" where you don't need a handicapped license plate, you just have to be older. Younger folks ought to be thinking about this. It's going to happen to them.

    • Sally's Trove profile image
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      Sherri 5 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania

      Peanutritious, you've said a lot in very few words. You made me think about how I was raised, which was to respect and honor older folks, along with any other kind of folks. Those with differences, those with disabilities. A person is a person, worthy of respect unless proven differently. But today, it seems like younger folks haven't been raised that way. Who's to blame, the media, parents? It's a complex subject, which I believe, starts with my generation. We saw this slip and slide away from manners and courtesy and respect, and we let it happen without standing up and protesting. Maybe now is the time to do just that. Thank you for your awesome comment.

    • DzyMsLizzy profile image

      Liz Elias 5 years ago from Oakley, CA

      WOW! How insulting, indeed! I've not had that particular thing happen at the hands of any store employees .... (or maybe I have, and just don't know it; perhaps the reason I can't find anyone on the floor to answer a question is that they are hiding from me....).

      I have, however, suffered this in the grocery store at the hands of many other people. It is sooooo annoying to have people shove past you to reach something, as if you're not even standing there. Sometimes, the temptation to stick out my cane and trip them is almost overwhelming. Then, in a parody of that famous cell phone ad, I could say, "Can you see me now??"

      It is even worse if you have to ride in one of those electric 'mart-carts,' as I've needed to do several times of late, because of knee pain...you want to talk INVISIBLE?? Well, there you go! It seems no one can see anything below eye-level! They cut in front, causing me to stop short...which the cart does very well--but at the expense of a painful jerk to my back. My husband says, "Just run into them--it's their own fault!"

      In the case of "blind" unruly kids, so help me--more than once such a youngster, (whose parents don't know what leashes are for) using the store as a playground, has banged into my cane, causing my balance to waver. I promise, the very next time THAT happens, I'm taking a stage fall, and yelling for someone to "...catch those little MONSTERS and find their parents!"

      Ah, yes, invisibility....it sucks!

      Great article and much food for thought. Voted up, interesting and shared!

    • Sally's Trove profile image
      Author

      Sherri 5 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania

      Audrey, push it for all you've got. The squeaky wheel does get the grease, after all. And you'll stand up there, very visible, as a model for those women who come after you.

    • Sally's Trove profile image
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      Sherri 5 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania

      Julie, BE OUTRAGEOUS. This is the best advice I can think of. My mother, at 90-something, has been perfecting outrageousness since she became invisible. Sock it to 'em.

      I think your friend hit the nail on the head. When I was 40, I was still getting diesel horn honks from 18-wheeler drivers on the road. By the time I hit 50, that was all gone. For Pete's sake, at 50 I could have bared my chest while driving in my car...that might have caused an 18-wheeler wreck, but not a flirty blast from the horn. What a super comment!

    • bac2basics profile image

      Anne 5 years ago from Spain

      Hi Sally. Hmmm, I voted as never being treated as invisible and I´m 57 ( OMG..Really) Tomorrow. Mind you , living halfway up a mountain, and sometimes going for day´s without seeing another living soul...you can´t shut me up when I go shopping or to work..it would be very hard to ignore me unless you happened to be stone deaf. Having said that, I have been pushed to the back of the queue many a time..but that´s mainly because I live in Spain and the customer service in some places needs a bit of a tweaking..well actually a lot. It´s quite common here for someone to butt in just as you are about to be or are being served , and the sales assistant to get into a long debate with the person who has pushed in..or in extreme case´s to actually leave you standing at the till waiting to pay and speechless , whilst they waltz off with the pusher inner . So maybe I have become semi invisible. I loved your closing line by the way..your additional gift being " That you didn´t slug her in the jaw" After such an eloquent hub...that made me laugh out load...loved the cartoon too. Great hub.

    • profile image

      ignugent17 5 years ago

      I am sorry for your experience with that cashier. I do hope it will not happen again. Some people enjoy all the freebies of having the age. In some theaters popcorns are free.

      Have a good day!

    • Peanutritious profile image

      Tara Carbery 5 years ago from Cheshire, UK

      Some young people are so rude and in their own little bubble. It's as if the world revolves around them and no one else matters. What on earth has happened to good manners? It's a subject that gets me really riled! Good manners cost nothing! Raaaahhhhh!

    • AudreyHowitt profile image

      Audrey Howitt 5 years ago from California

      So very true!! I just guffawed--but with a bit of pushing to be visible again!

    • Jools99 profile image

      Jools99 5 years ago from North-East UK

      Sherri, this was a spooky hub for me! I had a conversation with an old friend who told me that all women (yup, ALL) become 'invisible' after the age of 46. She told me'usually by 46, you're kids are up, you're not the eye candy you once were, you're not quite menopausal. If you're an ambitious person then you've probably already made it and if you're not, nobody's worried enough about you to care." Charming I though but I think there is some truth in all of this and your hub sort of validates it :0( I'm in my late 40s so I am also invisible - makes me want to be outrageous just for the hell of it!

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      Sherri 5 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania

      LOL, jcevans2009, join the club! Thanks for your great votes. :)

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      Judith C Evans 5 years ago from Boise, ID

      This is a timely article for me, since I recently turned fifty. Voted up and awesome!

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      Sherri 5 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania

      That Grrl, I love your comment! A situation like this really is worse for the cashier, in this case. She's the one who chose to not see. :)

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      Laura Brown 5 years ago from Barrie, Ontario, Canada

      I'm going to be 48 at the end of this year. I've had people ignore me long before I got old. But, as a cashier myself, I felt bad for you and on your birthday too when we do tend to notice things about ourselves more. Congratulations on getting to 51. You're not invisible, she just wasn't looking.

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      Sherri 5 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania

      Sad but true, Nancy, and yours is another in this list of sad experiences. Thank you for sharing it here. :)

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      nancy 5 years ago

      how interesting, something simila happened to me just a few days ago, I stopped by the local pedicure place to make an appointment. I was nicely dressed, etc, I asked the man at the counter if he had any current openings. Without even looking up at me to acknowledge me. he nodded, no, not today, not tomorrow, I finally got him to make eye contact with him; and asked for the nearest appt. it was only then, that he actually looked at me, and gave me a card. The shop was filled with younger ladies, I am sure if I were a young 21 and not 64, he would have been smiling and joking, etc, so much for customer service and that feeling of being invisible.

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      Peg Cole 5 years ago from Dallas, Texas

      Your Mom sounds like quite a character! She has the right approach.

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      Sherri 5 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania

      Sunnie, I agree with you on all points. I know I don't need the attention, but that's no excuse for rudeness. I was not raised to disrespect older folks, and I didn't raise my child that way either. It all starts at home. :)

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      Sunnie Day 5 years ago

      It is so true...but who needs the attention anyway...as we grow older hopefully we are more secure in ourselves that we do not need the attention..I do think these youngin's need to learn respect though and that is something we should always demand..thanks for a great hub

      Sunnie

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      Sherri 5 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania

      PegCole17, lately I'm becoming less invisible, by design. When I get that dismissive attitude, I throw it back in their faces. I have a handful of comments that I deliver either sincerely or sarcastically, depending on my mood...I'm perfecting the art. As we know from Network, "I'm mad as hell..."

      Thanks so much for sharing your experience with taking your mom to the doctor's office. My mom and I don't have too much experience with this, because her doctors have already been trained by her. If a newb PA shows up with this attitude while I'm with my mom, my mom simply says, "You can ask me anything you want, and if you don't want to address me, you can leave and send the doctor in."

      Neither my mom nor I put up with this crap any more. Ha!

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      Peg Cole 5 years ago from Dallas, Texas

      Reading this was something I deeply needed today as I've been adjusting to this more in the last few years as time marches on. It still comes as a shock when a cashier greets the person before me and after me with enthusiasm and near joy while I am invisible in their eyes. At that point I can't pass it off as "They must be having a difficult day" or "Something must be troubling them" as I usually do.

      I have experienced the same thing as PeggyW when taking my Mom to the doctor, that the nurse asks me the questions. I turn directly to Mom and ask the question like a Mynah bird, as though I'm interpreting for her. Sometimes the youthful physician's assistant gets it and starts asking the questions of the patient who is very much alive and present, and may be hard of hearing but certainly not invisible.

      Thanks so much for posting this engaging and much needed topic which it helps to know, so many others are feeling this too.

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      Sherri 5 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania

      LOL, kelliegirl! It is a great feeling, isn't it? Another who knows how we feel is Grea, the cartoonist who illustrated the "Invisible Older Woman" at the top of this Hub. I found another great one from her and added it just now - "Overcoming Middle-aged Invisibility." Enjoy!

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      kelliegirl 5 years ago

      That great feeling you get when you find somebody knows exactly how you feel...thank you.

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      Sherri 5 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania

      Rosemay, exactly my sentiments! They'll get theirs. :)

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      Sherri 5 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania

      CR Rookwood, I'm with you! I'm happy being here, being myself, not wondering any more about how someone else perceives me. Now I think about how I could make something better for those someone elses. I think that's my role going forward...listen, understand, and give help if asked. Being invisible has its advantages.

      I identify so completely with you...how dumb was I in those years? Mistaking interest as genuine affection. What you didn't say was that it was all about hormones, as in, get in your (our) pants. Crude but true.

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      Sherri 5 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania

      Nell, please post the link here to what you wrote about being invisible. I'd like to read it and I'm sure others would as well.

      Meanwhile, definitely go up to the nearest whatever guy and make that statement. You will most likely wake him up. I think that's what we're here for...slam some reality into those younger folks who think the world centers around them. Loved your comment.

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      Rosemary Sadler 5 years ago from Hawkes Bay - NewZealand

      I know exactly what you mean, Ive been through it too. It used to make me so mad, yes I felt like slugging them too. But I don't let it bother me now, what comes around goes around and their turn will come.

      Great hub

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      Pamela Hutson 5 years ago from Moonlight Maine

      This is so good. It started for me after I passed 55. I'm 59 now, and even though I'm used to it most of time, it still catches me off guard now and then, just not as often.

      What's really almost worse is thinking back to all the times years ago that some guy thought I was brilliant or fascinating (or that's what I thought he thought or hoped he thought), but now from this perspective I look back and think, doh! How dumb was I???? lol!

      Anyway, it's true--youth is wasted on the young. I wouldn't want it back for a houseful of puppies though. I like this age. I get to be myself, finally. Great hub. Voted up straight across. Thank you. :)

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      Nell Rose 5 years ago from England

      I love your last remark about slugging her in the jaw! lol! Yes I know just what you mean. Fifty and invisible. Tell me about it, lol! I wrote something similar a while back. I just hate the fact that I no longer get any attention from the male species! lol! In fact I am getting so desperate for attention one of these days I am just going to go up to the nearest guy, ugly or not, and yell 'Look at me will ya?' lol!

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      Sherri 5 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania

      @agaglia, please post the link to "The age of the invisible woman" here. I'm not sure where to find it, but I do want to read it! :)

      @Marcy, yeah, absolutely, it sucks. Thanks so much for reading and commenting.

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      Marcy Goodfleisch 5 years ago from Planet Earth

      I've sedan the behavior you mention - it truly does make you feel invisible. It's very disconcerting, isn't it? Also disenfranchising. Excellent hub - voted up and useful.

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      agaglia 5 years ago

      YES! I too have felt the sting of invisibility! and I actually also wrote a blog about it. (you may want to check it out."The age of the invisible woman". I loved what you wrote.

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      Justin W Price 5 years ago from Juneau, Alaska

      that's all you can do, right?

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      Sherri 5 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania

      PDXKaraokeGuy, thanks so much for your comment with its good words. Definitely, gotta keep a sense of humor about this. :)

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      Justin W Price 5 years ago from Juneau, Alaska

      while I will never be an invisible woman, I appreciated the humor and dexterity with which you told this story!

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      Sherri 5 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania

      James, thanks so much for lending your perspective here. As you can see from several of the comments, women believe that men remain attractive and noticeable as they age, while women don't, as Julia stated: "Men don't disappear. They get distinguished."

      I love that quote about good manners, too. If all followed its guidance, the world would be a more peaceful place.

      You are welcome for the good read, and thank you for the great comment. ~Sherri

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      James A Watkins 5 years ago from Chicago

      I love that quote: "Good manners sometimes means simply putting up with other people's bad manners."

      Your Hub is outstanding. This happens with age to men too. I am a tad older than you and in no way do women fuss over me everywhere I go like they once did. It's only been in the last maybe six years—when I turned fifty come to think of it—that for the first time younger gals often do not even make eye contact with me.

      Such is life. Thanks for the good read. :-)

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      Sherri 5 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania

      EclecticFusion, thanks for your insightful comment. None of us likes being treated as invisible, but I think when you appreciate someone's acknowledgment of your visibility you show that appreciation, perhaps in a subtle way. This is all good karma. I'm not sure of my thinking about this right now, I'll have to give it some time, but for the moment I'm thinking of the "Pay it forward" principle, where "Giving grows exponentially when you give and ask nothing for yourself in return, except that the recipient gives as you gave, three times." So, when you appreciate someone's acknowledgment of your visibility, you are affirming their humanity. Like I said, I'll have to think more on this!

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      Lisa 5 years ago from Tennessee

      I've started seeing this and I don't like it! I'm 45 and it's been going on for a couple of years now. However, now when I am visible to someone and they actually show it, I appreciate it even more!

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      Sherri 5 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania

      Pam, I live for the day when those younger folks put their feet in the universal shoes of getting older. Well, I don't exactly live for that day, but I do look forward to it. :) So Victoria's Secret doesn't accommodate all bra sizes? Shame on them. That'll put them out of business sooner than later. They're in business to dress Barbies and cater to the men who want to dress them. When women consumers reach their end tolerance with advertising, VS will reach its end...I don't think that will be tomorrow.

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      pgrundy 5 years ago

      Awesome essay! For me it happened at about the same age when a Victoria's Secret catalog came in the mail and I realized they don't even carry my bra size. I hate to say I actually burst out crying over that (dumb, I know), but since then I've learned there's a plus side to it that's freeing. Also, it's really easy to shock young people, who expect you to be mildly brain-damaged and obsessed with your aching joints, so anything that isn't that makes them do a double take. That's fun.

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      Sherri 5 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania

      Cara, thanks so much for sharing your thoughts and experiences here.

      I'm very interested in your mother's observation about being neither young nor old...the invisible limbo. As my mother has aged (can't tell you how old she is now, because she'd kill me), she's become more and more visible. By that, I mean brasher, perhaps...less willing to be ignored and much more focused on what she wants for herself and more determined to say so, out loud to anybody and everybody. I find her assertive behavior sometimes shocking, BUT, she's proof that remaining invisible is a matter of choice. She's chosen to turn the tides.

      I'd love to know what your mom has to say after you shared this hub with her. :)

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      Cara.R 5 years ago from New York

      Hi,Sally's Trove,

      The title caught my eye late tonight and I reminds me of the day my mother felt that way. She said to me I'm not old but I'm not young. An invisible limbo. I'm not there yet but I have known since I was a child that I wouldn't be young forever.

      I worked with older men when I was in my early 20's, some close to retirement. After getting to know them, it was interesting and beautiful to see their age melt away. I didn't feel younger than them,I felt like we were equals. Not to mention they still acted like young men. I think some people think that when you get old you become a-sexual. As if age erases sexuality and brains.

      Although I'm not fond of the streak of white hair, making it's way through my black hair,I can't wait to get older! I'll have to share your hub with my mom.

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      Sherri 5 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania

      No, Deni Edwards, it is not the case for men. As Julia mentioned earlier on in these comments: "Men don't disappear. They get distinguished." Age is hardly a defining quality that diminishes them.

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      Deni Edwards 5 years ago from california

      As always, I thoroughly enjoyed this read, and Happy belated-Birthday to you!

      I'm a few years away from turning 40. A few months ago, I was told by a man-child of 22 that I still looked good. Thanks?

      It seems women are always sized up by their age, as if it's a defining quality, but this isn't the case for men, is it?

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      Sherri 5 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania

      @USAPoolToy, happy bday and welcome to the next 50 years!

      @Pat Coldiron, happy bday on the eve of your 58th. I remember those black streamers, although they were gifts at my fortieth, not my fiftieth. LOL I'm with you. I don't want to go back to younger years. These are better.

      @kelleyward, exactly. It is their issue, not ours, unless we choose to wallow in that swamp. :)

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      Sherri 5 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania

      @ytsenoh, our children often treat us as invisible. I think it's a matter of their wanting to be in a space that doesn't include us, plus a feeling on their part, which they act on, that they must go after whatever they feel they need to chase at that time in their lives. Separation. And there's nothing wrong with that, given where they are. What becomes wrong down the road is that the need for rebellion or distance from a parent gets transferred to older people in general.

      Thanks for your awesome comment. There's so much to be learned and shared about this topic.

      @workingmomwm, I think the thing that smacks older women in the face is if, in earlier years, they commanded attention and then woke up one day to find they commanded none. It isn't anything they did or didn't do, it's only a matter of others' perceptions of the physical aspect of older folks.

      This is such a huge topic. I want to say, "Teach your children to have respect for people, no matter their differences." But then I think, the parents to whom I say that may never have learned that from theirs.

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      kelleyward 5 years ago

      Beautiful story. At times I have felt like an invisible women or an unheard woman. I like the conclusion you decided to make from this event. It was her issue not yours! Thanks!

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      Pat Coldiron 5 years ago from Roseville, CA

      I enjoyed your hub Sally. I will be 58 on January 6, so I definitely can relate to being treated as the invisible woman. I remember when I turned 50, my co-workers hung over the hill signs, and black streamers over my desk. I wouldn't want to be the age of that young lady in the coffee shop. I'm proud to be a mature woman.

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      USAPoolToy 5 years ago from Florida

      Loved this hub. I just turned 50 myself :)

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      Mishael Austin Witty 5 years ago from Kentucky, USA

      I'm not quite 35 yet, and I've been invisible (to some) since I was at least 27. Even the ones closest to me treat me like I'm invisible sometimes (and, actually, they do it more often than strangers). By the time I'm 51, I might entirely disappear off the planet!

      This is a fascinating issue. It makes me wonder if it is age-related or if certain people just command less attention than others.

      Still, everyone deserves to be treated with respect, and it's a shame that that cashier didn't understand that.

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      Cathy 5 years ago from Louisiana, Idaho, Kauai, Nebraska, South Dakota, Missouri

      I don't know, yet, if I've had that experience, but it's an interesting subject you put out there. My son turns 35 tomorrow. I might be invisible if I ask him to take out the trash (especially if I were to want it done in my time....right now). I have seen, however, others who are senior citizens be treated in that manner. I have believed for a long time though that there is a lack of respect for the elderly which invites people to pretend they aren't seen. I really like your approach on this subject.

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      Sherri 5 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania

      sweethearts2, thank you so much for sharing the "release" these words helped you feel. You are not alone, by any means.

      About hair, I have this white blond hair which, a few times in the recent past, some suggested I color to make me appear more "youthful." So I did try it. And it was so wrong for me. I am who I am.

      I delight in being able to talk programming with younger folks (to their surprise, as you express) while at the same time I haven't got a clue about the current idols in a young person's mind, just like you don't. But neither of these things defines me.

      You and I may be invisible to certain people for certain reasons, but, that is their loss. We have so much to offer to anyone who wants to learn.

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      Sherri 5 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania

      trish, this is so true for so many: the best defense is to be offensive. This strategy has its place in sports and business, but what about in personal relationships and customer service relationships where understanding rather than being Johnny on the spot to gain an advantage might be the only motive? As always, thank you for your rich contributions.

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      sweethearts2 5 years ago from Northwest Indiana

      What a great release this hub is. I have been invisible for years, especially in the workplace. I was laid off due the economy after 15yrs of service in the automotive steel industry. Looking for employment with what I've been told is beautiful grey hair is very depressing (I refuse to change my appearance to land a job). I do have skills other than maintaining a hairdo. I was able to find work however, it is well below the compensation I was looking for. I now work with a 35 year old who is constantly asking me "how do you know so much about computers?" or "do you know who _________ (insert name of any young star, rock group, model,etc.)is?" I can do her one better, I even know our state senator, representive, school board members, branches of government (need I go on?). She is obsessed with age and will ask "just how old do you think she/he is" when we have a new applicant. She complains about caring for her parents (because her siblings live out of state)when in fact it is her parents (in their 60's) who are caring for her children while she is a work, grocery shopping, out for the evening, etc.

      Thanks for sharing and for the release. Great hub!!!!!