Invisibility, another side effect of aging

Source: clipartbest

This is not about some super-secret invisible avenger who comes to the aid of the distressed. It’s about people who you don’t see. People standing right in front of you that are easy to ignore.

It doesn’t just happen to homeless or street people either. It happens to a lot of people including older people.

People with over the top personalities are always noticed. They make a commotion and people cater to them (or avoid them). Beautiful people are noticed. You notice people your own age (although sometimes it’s in a “do I look that old?” way).

You hear about it more these days. Invisible. Unseen. It’s in skin commercials. People look past you. They don’t see you. Your presence doesn’t register.

I never experienced it until the past few years. Most of the time I don’t care (don’t stare, you look way older than me!) but I do care when I’m a customer.

Recently I walked into a store. I was greeted then left alone. The next person coming in was greeted along with a “how can I help you?” The new customer was a young 30-something. Obviously she looked like a more promising buyer than I did.

Truth be told, she was a looker. She looked and tried things on. In comparison I was looking for something specific.

I’m not shy. I approached the counter and asked for help. I was given nominal help. They didn’t have the color I wanted. There was no offer to order and ship the desired color to me (frequently done at this store). It was a “this is what we have” kind of help and no more. (Reminded me of the “no, I can’t go out on a date with you because I have to wash my hair!)

I wasn’t one of them. I was an outsider intruding. Although I had one of their products on, I wasn’t wearing a fitted yoga outfit. My top didn’t have all the trendy cutouts. Way too old. Definitely not one of them.

Back home, I got a request from the store for a review. Yep, I let them have it. You can’t tell if a person is a “buying customer” by age or dress. Just because your grandmother wouldn’t buy something doesn’t mean I won’t. (I’m way cooler than your grandmother!)

You lost a sale. You can’t afford to lose a sale with purchases going on-line. This has happened at this store before. I wouldn’t go there except I like their products. I’d order on-line all the time except their sizing isn’t consistent. It’s time to move on.

That’s a retail situation but it happens in restaurants too. It happens more places but I never looked for it. Maybe I wasn’t seeing either. Now I’m watching for it.

79 thoughts on “Invisibility, another side effect of aging

  1. Yep, I’ve felt this too. I’m trying to view my recent invisibility as a superpower that I can use to my advantage. It still stings sometimes though and when it does, laughter has been good medicine. Have you seen this clip from Frankie and Grace? Misery loves company. . .

    Liked by 1 person

  2. At my advanced age, I totally relate to this. Plus it’s an ongoing phenomena in my hipster neighborhood (ugh). Most people I encounter on our walks just look through me even AFTER I say ‘hello.’ I always say something snarky to Sam as I pass these clueless cretins like “oh hi, there, have a nice day.” Grr. Aging makes for crabbish old crones, doesn’t it? Bravo to you for the review. Brick mortar stores need to impress upon their staff the importance that ALL customers matter in this day and age. Otherwise, there’s Amazon. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Oh the pain in reading this! I clicked on your post because of the title, and because, at also the “young” age of 36 I already feel this. I used to be the young, pretty rep in tech sales..now there are so many younger than me! And also pretty. I’m feeling so old, and probably sooner than I should be.

    Like

  4. That used to happen to me when I lived in a big city but since moving to a rural area, it rarely does. Here either there is attentive service, or no service at all – for everyone. (And usually the lack of service is because all the staff have vanished. Break to have a pee or been spirited up into the ether, I don’t know.

    Like

  5. I experience a double let whammy when shopping in the real world – fat and old! So I understand what you are talking about. I have just about given up shopping in actual shops and now prefer on-line retail. The high street only has itself to blame!

    Liked by 1 person

    • My mother was short and round. I remember going into one of the stores that catered to woman’s half and plus sizes. The clerk sized me up and said “Honey, if you wanna shop here, ya gotta eat!” Sadly I don’t see those stores anymore. I get the other side. I’m a small size and they often don’t carry it. You have to be in the middle to shop.

      Like

  6. Yes, it happens to me! Even if I get waited on a clerk will hardly look at me as she/he gives me my receipt and says thank you if I am lucky. Happens to Husband too. We are used to it and appreciate it when we are recognized. It really doesn’t bother me any more.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Can’t say this happens to me in stores…. in fact just the opposite… it seems the sales people are trained to be annoying. I’m usually greeted upon entering the store then tracked down right away to see if I need help… sometimes this happens several times with different sales people. Should I feel flattered? I’m usually dressed more like a homeless person than a movie star… or perhaps they are checking to make sure I’m not shoplifting! I think that must be it! On the other hand, once I am out of the store (as I mentioned in a previous comment to you) I am more than likely to be knocked down by some thoughtless twenty-something on the sidewalk who either didn’t see me or didn’t care. My take away from this is it seems people have to be “trained” in order to see me or acknowledge I am there!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I usually feel the invisibility thing in Ulta but when I went in to look for skin care items I actually had a woman come right to me and ask what I was looking for. She was a great help. I strolled around Pier One and was greeted pleasantly, too. Went into Home Goods and was ignored. As I get older I really feel invisible frequently. Most times I don’t care because then I don’t have to deal with anyone. But, there are days that if I would let it, it could make me sad.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Ulta for me is always overwhelming but our local one has helpful (but incredibly young!) people willing to help. We have 2 Pier Ones locally. The newer one is nice and friendly but the older one was crazy. My husband thought they had to pass a stupid test to work there. We were there when the place was packed and there were 6 people in line waiting to get checked out. A woman who had just been checked out dropped and broke her lamp on the way out. The ONE person operating the cash register walked over to watch as 3 other sales clerks helped her. She did nothing but watch as we all waited. I feel very invisible in the “upscale” woman’s clothing stores.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Good Morning! I walked out of Ulta with Mario Badescu Keratoplast Soap and Kera Moisturizer. I have been using it four days and I am in love with the face soap. Seriously Kate, I can hardly wait to wash my face. The liquid soap has a slight scent that makes me happy and the soap has truly helped my face. The Kera line is for red sensitive skin, I have a mild case of rosacea. The moisturizer has a bit of an odd smell but it works with my Bare Minerals and my face feels happy with it. Time will tell on both products, but so far so good! She gave me a sample of Badescu Glycolic Foaming Cleanser to use a couple of times a week. I haven’t used it yet.

        Liked by 1 person

        • That’s a brand I’m not familiar with. If you get someone good, they are familiar with all the products. I recently bought a facial cleansing brush but didn’t want to fork out the $$ for a clarisonic. I was looking at a knockoff. I asked about it at the desk and they sent out someone who was familiar with all the brands. I ended up with one at half the cost and I like it. AND they gave me a lot of substantial samples. I hate those little packety samples. When I open them they always run all over the counter.

          Like

  9. Hi Kate. With your permission I would like to make a couple of observations if I may. Yes, I too, have been on the receiving end of dismissive behaviour, but perceive this behaviour as a direct consequence of living in an ageist society. Indeed: ‘ageism is an offshoot of the quest for perpetual youth…and there in the underbelly of society, stigmas and taboos snuggle up close’ [Wajnryb, R. 2005]. Living in an ageist society has its challenges, but you get to choose your reaction whenever someone decides to treat you as less. Hold your head high. Appreciate your strengths, abilities, skills, and expertise. Hold fast your respect for who you are and what you do. Healthy self-esteem protects a person from the contrariness of life and people much like water flowing off a duck’s back.

    Liked by 1 person

      • Honestly, from your writing, I suspect you have always – and still do – hold your head high and walk with confidence and value. Foolish behavior is not likely to “damage” you. (16 is good – I’m more early 20’s – good years)
        Anyone of any age is allowed to muse over observations of behavior…and those women who have had careers – often battling the norms in job market are probably in better mindset to deal with clueless who don’t realize they are being rude, dull, and muddying the face of their companies.
        Some of the problem seems to be many who have grown up with being patted on the head for breathing are either self centered or they don’t understand the concept of helping others or customer service. Workplace is really struggling to bring them up to speed.
        Good for you for the “review”. As my husband said in one recently when called to inquire about rating their customer service at a car dealership shop, “Some people do not seem to have the ability to understand how to treat people, much less customers, and I don’t see how you can train them to do that.”

        Liked by 3 people

          • No doubt. I remember watching my parents/ancient relatives age – the small town shops were so kind as they knew everyone and how they connected to the rest of the town, but when mom came to the big city – I’d get annoyed at the makeup counters who dismissed her…so I had warning of what to expect down the road.
            For years I always made a point to compliment/thank the clerks in stores who showed patience and kindness to older people in line/counter. It made them smile. Hopefully it encouraged them to continue.
            But as you say, a whole different game now

            Liked by 1 person

  10. I’m also glad that you wrote a review, Kate. You are spot on! In-person retailers can no longer afford to lose customers–regardless of the customer’s age/status/etc., etc. It’s really that simple. Even if you don’t receive a reply, you clearly voiced your opinion. That’s what counts!

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Other than at grocery or drug stores I don’t shop very often but as I get older it does seem I am fading away. Mostly I don’t mind but if I ask for help I expect to get it. And people wonder why old folks get cranky.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I became invisible when my hair turned grey – particularly to men, who I could be introduced to over and over again, and they never bothered to remember me… and still look through me each time we encounter each other…even driving is a hazard when men don’t notice you, having already mentally written you off, and drive as if you’re not there …

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, I’ve had that too. The first time it happened I was in my 50s and it was the head of the company I worked for (and he was older than dirt). I was being introduced to him when a young woman walked by. He was mentally gone!

      Like

  13. I was in a J. Jill not to long ago and had a similar experience. The two sales people completely ignored me (I did get to overhear their discussion about recent dental surgery, though) the whole time I was there (and, I even tried several things on). I was the only customer in the store so it wasn’t as if they were busy. When I got home, I wrote an email to the corporate headquarters telling them about my experience. I received absolutely no reply. Very disappointing. Fortunately, that store location was not the one I usually shop in, so I just made the decision not to return.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I worry that I may look past people too. Be less friendly to some. I will be on the lookout for that. That sales person worked very hard with the person who didn’t buy so she was willing. She just couldn’t relate to me.

      Like

  14. One of the pluses of living in a small town is the recognition factor. I am still amazed at how I am made to feel special. Then we go on a trip to the big city and I revert to invisibility. Arrrgh!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I know! We go to the same places to eat because they remember and are fast to serve us. I was recently at the women clothing section in our nearby department store and a sales person came up and said she hadn’t seen me in a while. I was surprised. It’s a “therapy store.” That’s someplace I go to just walk and look (mostly). I’m popular at plant nurseries too. It’s better than Valium.

      Liked by 1 person

  15. I get help in stores, but the clerks all call me “sweetie” which I hate. It seems very condescending, and I have never figured out a good comeback without sounding rude. I’m sure they all mean well…

    Liked by 1 person

  16. I thought all sales people would bow down for money. Guess not. I’m a miser, so I don’t shop often. There are two ways people treat me in stores. If I really want something and need help, no one come to my aid. Browsing, on the other hand, attracts sycophants who fall all over themselves to help me find things I would never want in 1,000 life-times.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I get some of that too. I always cruise the shoe section if I’m in a department store. Not to buy but to look. You can bet 5 people will try to help me. Next time I go to replace my sneakers and there’s not a person in sight!

      Liked by 1 person

  17. This is a pet peeve of mine! You don’t need to pull out the red carpet for me, and gush over me, but I do want respect and to be treated with the same courtesy as others. For like you said, you don’t know if I am a paying customer or not. But how you treat me will go a long way in me deciding if I will be a paying customer!

    Liked by 2 people

  18. This is why I love taking my mother to our “small scale” Walmart. Yeah, I know…Walmart? All of the clerks know us and they go out of their way to treat my mother with kindness and respect.
    All customers should be treated the same whether you’re paid on a commission or hourly.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. I know exactly where you’re coming from, especially as in years gone by you’d walk into a store and in less than five seconds you’d have an assitant more or less measuring you. Not so now, though I confess I had nice service form the girls in the dress shop on Sundy.
    One of my first posts was about those I call Also People, who are always there but ignored or pushed to the background.

    Liked by 2 people

  20. I hate being ignored like that. It’s why I love my pet food store — I come in, they greet me immediately, they offer to help find a product, and then they insist they carry it to the car.

    It’s why Andy loved staying at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel. “Everyone is so nice and helpful!” he exclaimed. Then he said, “It’s cuz they think we’re rich.”

    Liked by 2 people

  21. Things like this have always made me angry. I have few hot buttons but disrespect has always been one of them and I view this as disrespectful, prejudicial and ignoran, not even addressing how this is just poor business.
    Have you visited other locations for this business? Does the same type of non service happen there or are they just ignorant in this location? I don’t know that I’d be able to continue to allow this company to profit off of me but if you like their product I guess you’re stuck.
    Glad you let them know your feelings. I wonder if they will respond. A lack of response would just be another sign of disrespect. I guess when we fall out of the coveted 19-54 demographic we become expendable. That really irritates me.

    Liked by 3 people

    • They only have one store in a convenient driving range. I have fallen out of love with their stuff and will find other places to patronize. It made me wonder if I do that. To what group would I do that to? I’m on full alert now.

      Liked by 1 person

  22. I recently “dropped” a publisher because an appointment (telephone) I had with them was cancelled with minutes notice, as a result of somebody calling an impromptu staff meeting! I later explained that when their last minute staff meetings take precedent of customers appointments, they should perhaps step back and start thinking where they want to be in a few years. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  23. Glad you actually did a review. It would be nice if you get a response, but I never hear of that happening. Anytime I have done one of them, I feel as though it went off into internet space, and never to be heard of again. Wish you would have named the store. I would rather not give them any business… Although, if the truth be known, there are times when being invisible would be a good thing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I occasionally do reviews both good and bad and have never heard anything back. I think it’s just part of a big statistical puzzle. If enough people say the same thing, it may effect change. If it’s just a few, they consider it isolated instances.

      Like

  24. I agree with you… we are no longer the targets for making moneeh… we are not even in tv commercials…. they prefer youngsters or retired people to snitch their money…… maybe if we start to use anti wrinkle cream it works like a magic hood?

    Liked by 1 person

Don't be shy, I'd love to hear what you're thinking!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s