Leftwing Idiot and I were in town together last week. As we approached some charity collectors he said “Get your cloak of invisibility ready.” This is how we jokingly refer to the fact that when I’m out and about I very rarely get asked for donations, given flyers, or offered the chance to change my telecoms company. And sure enough we sailed past apparently unnoticed.
While I’m pleased not to be delayed in my journey, or to end up with loads of bits of paper, it does perhaps say something worrying about attitudes to disability. This phenomenon’s become much more obvious since I started using a wheelchair, but even before that, as my tics intensified, I noticed I was having fewer and fewer interactions with direct marketers.
I’m not sure what’s at the root of this. Maybe it’s fear of approaching someone different, or fear of awkwardness because I might not understand what they’re saying, or that as a disabled person I wouldn’t have any money or interest in whatever they’re pushing.
Of course there are exceptions and I do occasionally experience acts of everyday inclusion, but on the whole I do seem to be largely invisible. However handy this may be, I don’t really have a cloak of invisibility and I find it a bit unsettling that they choose not to see me.