Each one of us is born with a gift. I think I’ve finally found mine. I’m invisible.
Yes, you heard correctly. I’m invisible. I’m not invisible like Mr. India was in the Bollywood film Mr. India. To claim so would be delusional. In fact, I’m pretty sure that you could see me clearly if you met me. Unless of course, you’re visually impaired, in which case you should probably not be staring at the Chinese letters on this screen.
I’m invisible in that motion-activated sensors can’t see me. Let me elaborate.
You know those stupid motion-activated light switches that they’ve installed everywhere these days? I’m talking about the ones that are supposed to turn on the lights when you enter a room. Well, I have one in my office and it doesn’t do anything for me. Every morning I unlock my office, put my briefcase down, and flap my arms like an extinct, flightless Mauritian bird in the hope that the motion-activated light switch will turn on the lights my office. I keep at it for a good four or five minutes stopping only to greet members of upper management as they pass through the corridors. Incidentally, I have never figured out why they choose to walk by my office when they sit on the other side of the floor. Anyway, after I resign myself to my daily power failure, I leave to go to the break-room to grab a cup of coffee. When I come back with the coffee, the lights turn on. Every single day.
I’ve tried wearing shirts and suits of different colors. I’ve worn different belts, shoes, and ties. I’ve tried cotton, linen, and wool (and for the record, I will not stoop to wearing polyester even if I have to sit in a dark cave forever). Nothing happens.The only think that works is coffee. That and, of course, other people.
I guess I just don’t light up a room when I enter it.
I could just come into the office every morning with a cup of coffee in my hands. That would be the rational thing to do. But that would also be giving up without a fight. When you give in to a motion sensor, how long is it before you ask how many sugars it takes in the morning coffee and whether it likes hazelnut or Kona? I don’t do that. I only give up after I’ve been roundly defeated and I’ve reinforced a notion that needs no further validation.
But my misery doesn’t end there. In the public facilities, I’m the one raising and lowering my hand at various awkward angles to get the water to pour from the faucet. And when the water finally comes on and I’ve washed my hands, I have to contend with the motion-activated hand dryers too.
Come to think of it, I’m not invisible to only motion-activated sensors. There are other machines that act weird when I’m around too. While you’re standing in a long line fidgeting about why it is taking so long, I’m the guy hogging up the airline self check-in counter at the airport because the touchscreen won’t recognize my prompts. Whenever I touch a metro train fare-card, I jinx it so that it isn’t ever recognized by the station-meters. When I enter a room, you can bet your life that your computer will lose the WiFi signal. And don’t get me started on how charming I am to the office photocopier. I could write reams on the office photocopier.
But I won’t. Today, I will use my powers for a purpose. No longer will supple, sophisticated thieves need to worry about deactivating invisible infrared trip wires which turn red when sprayed with mysterious aerosols. They can use the extra time to clean out their skin-tight black leather outfits. If the room guarding the Maharani of Mahipal’s precious jewels is anything like my office, I should be able to enter at will without tripping off any of the sensors.
Final thoughts: There is an episode in the now-dead TV series Better off Ted which describes a different debacle with automated sensors. I won’t give the story away, but I do recommend that you watch it on DVD if you can.
© Text, 2010-2012, Anirban