The age-old question when it comes to super-powers is: Flight or invisibility?

Most people choose flight, because commuting is terrible at the best of times.

But, some believe invisibility is the greater power. Being able to go undetected could certainly help in many of life’s situations, whether walking down a dark street at night, or showing up late for work and pretending you were there the whole time.

However, invisibility is not always a good thing.

Hefty price

Both Japanese and American researchers have come up with various forms of invisibility fabrics, bending light around the subject to create the illusion of nothing there.

The price tag on these items, however, makes it impossible for any common person to afford.

I have found the secret of invisibility, and it only costs about 99 cents.

All you need is a magic marker and some discarded cardboard.

Believe it or not, there were once whole people behind these signs!
Believe it or not, there were once whole people behind these signs!

Write something on the cardboard with the marker and sit or stand on any sidewalk/road median/busy intersection and wait.

Nobody will notice you are there.

If you want to be truly invisible (that is, no trace whatsoever), ask for money. Ask for a cigarette. Even just ask for the time.

Nobody will look directly at you or hear you. It’s truly remarkable.

A stunning discovery

My research into invisibility began one day outside the York Street LCBO.

There are often floating signs outside the store, and time and again I drop change into a cup floating above the sidewalk. I hold a beer out only to have it taken away from my hand like magic.

I’ve also said a quick, “sorry bud,” to the air as I walk in more times than I’m proud of.

But on the day I discovered the secret to it all, I found a piece of cardboard laying flat on the ground.


The sign was not floating anymore.

That meant someone or something had been holding it up the whole time, and I was unable (unwilling?) to see them.

Is the message worth the paper it's printed on?
Is the message worth the paper it’s printed on?

Not one to pass up a great opportunity, I picked the sign up and walked the whole block back to Fuse HQ.

It must have looked eerie to any passing motorists to see a sign floating by, and eerier still to see it deliberately enter a building. But once I returned to the office, I tacked it to my wall.

To my surprise, the wall remained opaque. Therefore, I surmised this method of invisibility only works on humans. Collecting more discarded signs only solidified my theory.

Seeing through the illusion

Because of my exposure to whatever element or X-ray was responsible for invisibility, I began to see through the illusion.

Now when I saw floating signs, I could just barely make out human forms behind them. At first, they were hazy outlines but as I honed my detection skills, I could see whole people.

Many of them looked a bit worse for wear, but I suppose that doesn’t matter if you’re invisible. Quite often, they had many personal effects with them, though I suppose it would be hard to find somewhere to store your stuff (or even get a job) if you can’t be seen.

Most of the invisible people were men – at least on the sidewalks. The majority were respectful and polite, even though they had plenty of reason to complain.

I don’t know how many times I heard the wind whisper, “God bless,” as I walked past a floating sign. It always crept me out. But now, I understand these were real words coming from real people.

I keep these signs on my wall at work for two reasons:

1 – They tell a humbling story of loss and rebuilding.

2 – They remind me that someone, somewhere, is having a worse day than I am.

The former is a testament to the human spirit – surviving for the sake of surviving, even when the world tries its hardest not to see you.

The latter reinforces the notion ‘count your blessings’.

So is invisibility the super power we think it is, or is it more of a curse, like H.G. Wells described?

I think it depends on how hungry you are.


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