In October I submitted a short writing titled “Invisible?” (see below) to the local street newspaper Streetvibes. Even as I wrote it, I was sure that being invisible only affected me in a hurtful and negative manner. Within two weeks I came face-to-face with the hard truth, and nothing but the truth, of who can be negatively affected by those who live in a fantasy world in which other human beings can be and are routinely “invisibilized.”
It was a late night/early morning. I was walking down a street near Saint Peter in Chains Cathedral downtown. A man came up from behind me on a Segway and passed me on the sidewalk. I paid him no real attention as he sped by. However, moments later I heard a gut-wrenching sound and I looked ahead. The man on the Segway had wrecked on the sidewalk while crossing over a driveway.
I ran ahead to him and asked if he was okay. He didn’t move. I moved closer and bent at the waist to get his attention. A puddle of blood began to form and pool beneath his head. Truly, I rather panicked. I looked around us and not a single soul was in sight. My heart raced, actually blocking out any idea of constructive thought. Loud and clear though, I heard the fallen man snoring softly and almost easily. I knew that he was unconscious.
I ran across the street yelling, “Help, help! This man is hurt! Call 911, somebody please.” My thought was to knock on the door of the building across the street. When I got there I realized it was an apartment building and on the façade of the building was a row of doorbells for each apartment. I ran my finger over each button and pushed frantically. I stepped to the curb and looked up at the windows hoping to catch someone’s attention should they look down. No one did.
I ran back to the injured man and saw that a huge puddle of blood had formed across the concrete. My heart turned in my chest. I had a cell phone, but it didn’t have battery power. It is an issue that I battle daily, as I am currently homeless and often can only charge my phone for as long as I am somewhere working. The charge had died hours before.
Suddenly across the street at the apartment building, a man came to the door and began shouting, “Why did you ring my bell?” His words were not questioning out of curiosity, but obnoxious and blaming. He used his cuss words as he displayed his faithfulness and loyalty to his fantasy of “invisibilization.” As I urged him to call 911 to get help, it registered to me that he was angry for having his fantasy interrupted and that he was not even beginning to hear me, or see me, or the situation before him. He turned on his heels – bathrobe swirling behind him like a superhero’s cape, slammed the door and walked up the stairs behind it.
I gotta tell you I was wounded. I was shocked. I was afraid, not only for the injured man, but for myself. I was hurt, angry, afraid, and sad. I felt helpless. I prayed. As I said earlier, I was sure that being invisible only affected me or those others rendered invisible through homelessness. I know now I was wrong. Invisibility has the potential to be dangerous to anyone. This time someone, a human being, lie on the sidewalk unconscious – head bleeding profusely. And that man in his apartment refused to see me. Wow.
The injured man eventually did come to, and that was a miracle in my eyes. Still bleeding and totally unaware that he had even fallen from his Segway, he refused to slow down to listen to me as well. But he was drunk. He wiped the blood from his face and eyes like it was sweat, got on the Segway and rode off without a word. I thank God for him, as he was unaware of this dangerous position or that for a moment in time he was invisible too.
(This article originally appeared in Streetvibes, No. 290 | Nov. 7th-20th, 2014)
Am I invisible to you? What do you believe you will lose if you should ever really see me? We share the universe, the planet, the state and this city. We share 12th and Vine St., 13th and Main St., Court and Walnut St. We share Peaslee Park, the field at Sycamore and Woodward, and Washington Park. We share Final Fridays and Second Sundays and every day in between them in OTR. I’ve spoken to you on several occasions. When I received no response, I thought maybe I didn’t speak loud enough. Again I greeted you, “Hello, how are you?” on a different day. Clearly and audibly I asked. There was nothing obvious in the way you chose to ignore me. You never missed a beat. Yet it was there… because there is no discreet, polite way to pretend someone is invisible.
(This article originally appeared in Streetvibes, No. 288 | Oct.10th-23rd, 2014)
By Melissa Mosby