The Invisible Man: When people pretend they don’t see you on the Tube
What I didn’t realise, however, was that when I became disabled I’d be able to live out my dreams by gaining real life superpowers.
Being trapped under an oil tanker for half an hour is a little bit more painful than getting bitten by a radioactive spider. But who cares because I am now (drum roll please) The Invisible Man.
All it takes for me to operate this incredible gift is to head out onto the capital’s transport network. Kapow: I immediately become invisible. The same goes for crowded high streets. Shoom, I’m not there.
I don’t mean to complain but the frustrating thing about it is that it’s not a lot of fun. I mean, you’d have thought having super powers would be pretty cool. It’s not. The problem is my superpower seems to work all the time I’m in one of the aforementioned places. It’s impossible to turn it off. Which makes life slightly difficult, particularly when I’m using my crutches. I’ve lost count of the amount of times I’ve nearly been knocked flying. Or shoved into a wall. Or a road.
My power was working at full tilt en route to the Olympic boxing on Sunday night with my brother.
Since that uncomfortable 30 minute tanker encounter left me with mobility “issues” he has been kind enough to ferry me, and my wheelchair, around to various events, which more usually involve bands we both like. This has been something of a Godsend, not least because being a virtual prisoner in one’s own home isn’t a lot of fun.
Now most of the time having a six footer who runs marathons with me means that it doesn’t matter if my super power is working at full pelt. That’s because he can throw invisible forcefields around in the form of really quite fierce looks directed at anyone who strays a bit too close.
Sadly his power failed en route to the ExCel when a united nations of obnoxiousness barged passed us into the lift, which happened to be just a few feet from an escalator they’d have been perfectly able to use.
There were some Japanese (flags painted on faces) and I’m guessing (from their accents) some West Africans and some Europeans speaking one of the romance languages (guessing here again), the beauty of which stood in stark contrast to their actions. Oh and several Brits. Who was it said courtesy was in our national character? It ain’t.
I have to say at that point I lost it. The multinational party went down in the lift with my sarcasm ringing in their ears. They might not have been able to see me but they sure as hell could hear me.
But let’s be honest here. This sort of incident happens on the tube with boring regularity. I’ve taken to making like a super villain in receipt of a punch from the Incredible Hulk when hoisting myself into carriages, after the hordes have pushed past me that is.
If I make a big enough noise I usually find that there’s someone with superpowers of their own that allow them to see disabled people. Their superpowers often extend to getting the people who remain stuck fast into the seats that are supposedly set aside for those “less able to stand” (thanks TFL) to move themselves.
I like to reward everybody at this point by making out my legs are made of plastic (like Mr Fantastic’s) to make a suitably dramatic fall into the seat so everyone feels better. Sometimes I’m not even acting.
Fortunately my powers don’t seem to extend to tube staff. Most of them appear able to see me. Some of them are even quite helpful.
Except, that is, for the member of staff at the supposedly wheelchair friendly Olympic station of Stratford. Who tried to act like my power was on while watching my slow and none too steady progress down a flight of stairs – enforced by dint of the fact that the lift was out – through the corner of his eye.Tagged in: disability, olympics, tube
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