Invisible People

One of my favorite movies is Dirty Pretty Things. In it, Chiwetel Ejiofor, playing a hotel desk clerk responds to the question, “Who are you people?” with: “We are the invisible people. We drive your taxis, we wash your clothes, we clean your rooms, but you don’t see us.” The same week I saw that movie, I heard a story on NPR about a group of undergraduate students at a major California university who were teaching the housekeeping staff English. One of the staff commented, “We are invisible on this campus.”

Since that time, I have tried hard to have no invisible people in my life. Many of the invisible people have name tags on. When they do, I speak to them by name. The reactions are almost always positive. When they don’t have a nametag, or when I’m speaking to them on the phone, I ask them their name. The results are the same.