on being invisible in the airport

we had all missed our connecting flights due a delayed inspection crew in detroit, so the crowd coming off the plane in salt lake city was grumpy, and american about it. pushing each other with forearms, just a step more ‘accidental’ than elbows, racing past wheelchair bound and elderly passengers, upstreaming the hotel shuttles.

the delta help area was a wreckage of human kindness and human waste. i was waiting in line for a man who looked like half of siegfried and roy, shellac hair fanning up and away from his head, something akin to alien ears, bulbous nose. he looked at me a few times while helping the previous customer. when that person turned away to elbow over to the hotel shuttle, a tall white man stepped around me to sir bulbous. and they started talking about mr tall’s situation.

i knew immediately what had happened. i dropped my bag and screamed out, ‘HELP!! HELP ME – CAN ANYONE OUT THERE HEAR ME?!?!?! I’VE GONE INVISIBLE, HELP HELP HELP ME!!!!!’

as dr suess would say:
‘here
i fear
i cannot be

here
my dear
they can’t see me!’

sir bulbous and mr tall looked at me in shock. mr tall said, ‘ma’am you are not invisible, please calm down!’
‘i’m…i’m not invisible?’
‘no ma’am, not at all.’
‘so you saw me standing here?’
‘yes, i saw you there and see you there.’
‘and you just walked in front of me?’

‘…’

‘somehow that’s worse.’

just kidding. it went more like this:

they started talking about mr tall’s situation.

i stepped between them, emboldened by my leather jacket with fringe on it. in that second of tight sausage sandwich awkwardness that results from thickness stepping between two much taller men, i thought i might not survive this stunt. the men stepped apart.

‘are y’all lovers?’

mr tall and sir bulbous looked at me incredulously and scoffed. ‘we’ve never met!’

‘so you aren’t long lost family? or returning soldiers who were POWs together somewhere? you aren’t from the same kickball team?’

giving me the official you-are-an-irrational-woman look, mr tall side eyes me, ‘we just said we just met.’

‘well i’m just saying that y’all being family, or lovers, or soldiers, or being from the same victorious kickball team, those are about the only reasons you could justifiably cut me in line right now.’

a woman behind me said oh snap, and literally snapped her fingers. i turned with her and we sashayed away, dropping mics all around us.

no really, really it was more like,

me: ‘he cut me!’
mr tall: ‘i did not.’
me, barely audible: ‘grumble…america…grumble grumble patriarchy asshole grumble grumble.’
me centering, extending compassion at these two assholes, thinking of them as kids. me holding my ground.

finally sir bulbous, with the tolerating-an-irrational-woman look, mr tall sucking his teeth and rolling his neck in the background: ‘sorry ma’am how can i help you?’

the end. really.

1 Response to “on being invisible in the airport”


  1. 1 Dessa

    Great post. I get cut a lot…and I day dream about the scenarios too. A few months ago in the Lansing airport a guy did the same thing to me. Rather than just day dreaming, I called him out on it, saying something like “Hi, I was here first. You can’t cut me.” He actually denied that he’d cut me! He said he hadn’t seen me.. that was really weird, because he’d spoken to me when he’d first stepped up to the line (like a minute before he cut me). So, I called him out on that too…that’s when people started paying attention. “Look,” I said. “I get cut a lot and I’m sick of it. Just because people don’t think I’m going to say anything doesn’t mean I’m not.” He seemed flabbergasted that I would lie about his actions so blatantly- like almost flabbergasted to the point that I thought he really hadn’t seen me. Then, when he tried to speak to the agent behind the counter, the agent wouldn’t respond! He started talking to me instead.

Leave a Reply