Monday, February 26, 2018

Invisible people

I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about invisible people. Mentioning this to a friend this week, he wasn’t sure what I meant. I explained that invisible people are the people we encounter almost daily, but don’t “see.” Like the “smelly” guy at the next pump over at the gas station, and the person in front of you at Walmart paying with food stamps. Invisible people are everywhere.
Doing the work I did for the past few years at Bevill State Community College, I met quite a few invisible people. They were the ones who were down on their luck and had given up hope of a better life. They tried to find work, but the good jobs seemed out of their reach. They often slipped into poverty and all that implies. When I managed to help some of them find jobs, their demeanor changed. Their inner light flickered back on. They became visible.
Driving down the Interstate this past week, I noticed my gas gauge was listing toward “E,” so I looked for an exit. It was dusk and drops of rain began to splatter on my windshield. Approaching an exit, I clicked on the blinker and headed toward a filling station. At the end of the ramp was a red-light. Standing near the intersection was a man holding a sign that read “Hungry.” The car in front of me inched by the man as if he hadn’t seen him. Maybe he was invisible to them. I keep a few folded dollars on my console that I use for this purpose. Rolling down my window, I eased to the edge of the road and handed the man the money. He smiled, looked into my eyes, and said, “Thank you, sir. God bless you.”
Some say these folks will probably use the money to buy cheap wine. That may be, but if so, it’s on them. If not, it’s on the people who don’t see that someone is in need.
There was a guy that graduated in my class in high school. I’ll call him Dave. He wasn’t a member of the “in crowd.” He often ate alone in the lunchroom. He was there throughout school, but his classmates didn’t seem to see him. He was invisible. To be honest, I didn’t have much in common with him, either. I wasn’t a member of an “in crowd” either but my twisted sense of humor was hard to ignore. I wasn’t invisible.
Years ago, while driving back from an appointment in Birmingham, I passed a stalled car on the side of the road just inside the city limits of Sumiton. The August sun was hotter than Satan’s asphalt driveway.
Passing, I saw a red-faced man standing beside the car. There wasn’t much time before my next appointment, but glancing in the mirror, I told myself that I’d just have to be a little late. Heading back, I realized the man was Dave. He’d run out of gas and didn’t have a can. About 20 minutes later, we had gas in his tank and were both on the road again. “Easy-peasy.” My lunch appointment was later than me so, the small detour cost me nothing, but Dave never forgot that small kindness. He mentioned it to me every time we met afterward.
I don’t pretend to be a saint. Lord knows I have faults, but I try to “see” people. The hard part is seeing people without judging them. The thing is, no one knows what each of us goes through. Life can be difficult, but that shouldn’t make you invisible.

The picture has nothing to do with the post, but I didn't have a picture that fit. 


  1. Thanks for seeing the invisible people, Rick. That's definitely something to think about.

  2. This was good Rick!. Yes I admit, I see invisable people too. God will put us in places at just the right times.. You running into Dave was in the plan. Have a great day.

  3. You are a true Christian Rick. You are right about invisible people. I try to give them a voice whenever I can and help them as well. It's the right thing to do.
    Hugs, Julia

  4. So true ! On a different wave, I often think I'm invisible when driving on the highway. People pull right out in front of me like I wan't even there. I've even taken to turning the headlights on but it makes no difference. I can't help but wonder if they even see me.

  5. I am sure you have also noticed that the invisible people also make themselves smaller. They seem to fold in on themselves. It makes them even harder to see. A smile and cheery greeting often makes a huge difference even if only for a few moments.

  6. Thank you for your heart and vision. We need more people like you.

    My husband buys 10 umbrellas at the dollar store every year. When H passed people drenched in rain or walking in the hot triple digit heat of summer, he pulls over and offers one to them. He buys lunch for them when the sign says hungry, diapers for them if the sign says they need diaper money.

    One year a couple were standing in the rain, totally drenched. It was cold, night and the rain was supposed to go on all night. I had seen them before and knew they were homeless. When I pulled over, the man confessed they couldn't stay at the shelter because he was caught drinking. I took them over to Motel 6 and got them a room. I didn't give them money, but we went through McDonald's drive-thru. They ate, got how showers and a safe, warm bed for one night. I'm not sure how it worked out for them, but I slept good that night!

  7. A very good reminder to be and do what we are meant to do! God puts all in places where invisible people can be seen.

  8. You are a very kind person. I have to stop myself from being too cynical when I see the folks with the signs. We were getting gas on the way to Chicago once when a young man ran up to Jack and said he needed gas money to get to South Bend. Jack immediately handed him money. I said "honey, that young man is on the wrong side of the road if he's heading to South Bend and he ran to the back of the gas station". Jack said, "What he does with the money isn't on me, it's on him". Got it. I'm glad I'm married to a man who sees people. Love this post and the photo is perfect.

  9. Good one. When every one does this things will be better all -round!

  10. You are an amazing person

  11. Your photo of earth, light, sky and their tremendous interaction is demonstration enough that we're all in this together. My compliments on your compassion, your sense of humanity.

  12. I love what you wrote and it resonates with me since I see many people who hit hard times. You are right about "invisible" people and we make them invisible because we don't want to look at them. Quite a few years back a homeless lady, in Toronto, died on the street. This is one of how many? It made news because it turned out she was a huge mega model during the 1950's and worked in Paris, Rome, etc... all for the huge Couture Houses. She developed schizophrenia and had bi-polar also ending up in mental wards with any family turning their backs. This just illustrates that each person had a life and still do but they are on the streets and, I am certain, they never expected to end up there. I do try to buy them a coffee and, when it is so cold, I have bought soup or a chicken meal because they need this.


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