2: Sharing Public Spaces
The Super-Power, Protective Force Field, is arguably the most ubiquitous of all the Super-Powers and is most frequently taken for granted, thus contributing significantly to Super-Powerist Presumption. People lacking this Super-Power are often at a loss regarding its functions while those possessing it are just as much at a loss in understanding the way their Protective Force Field effects the Super-Powerless around them. It will be helpful to clarify the situation for everyone.
Protective Force Fields are force fields that obviously protect the subject wherever he or she may be located. The force field prevents intrusions of all kinds from reaching the subject, intrusions including speeding-bullets, shrapnel, nuclear radiation, as well as quotidian intrusions like horrific smells and sound waves. A portable protective force field is clearly a wonderful power to have. Protective force fields “protect” the subject while simultaneously permitting the subject’s activities to influence and act upon things outside of the force field. Herein lies the difficulty. If everyone has the power of Protective Force Field, each subject is shielded from the actions and activities of all the other subjects. Unfortunately, not everyone possesses this power.
The Super-Powerless experience indignities when sharing public spaces on account the way the Super-Powered live with the assumption that virtually everyone else has the Protective Force Field power. Cell-phone conversations, conducted loudly and as though the Super-Powerless do not exist, are an example of a very common indignity. However, it would be incorrect to think that the Super-Powerless are without any means to cope with it.
Back in the late 90’s, I recall I was eating lunch in a restaurant in New York City. I was seated alone at a table, and there was another diner, a guy in maybe his mid-twenties, also seated alone at a table nearby, talking loudly on his cell-phone. He was within his Protective Force Field and simply assuming I also had this power, given the content of his conversation. This conversation began with some complaints he had about the planning involved in his upcoming wedding. Although I could not hear his interlocutor’s responses, I was able to hear about “the drag” the whole thing was “turning into” as well as his insistence that there would have to be strippers at his bachelor party, even if it meant that a certain “pussy-whipped Joel” could not be invited since he’d spill the beans about it. The conversation then took a turn regarding a certain “Allison”
Dude, she’s been calling, like, every day.
[Laughter] I mean, Allison doesn’t care. It’s not like she and Cheryl are friends. They don’t even know each other. Cheryl has no clue.
Yeah, I see what you’re saying, but believe me, if you were me, you’d definitely hit that one last time.
I’m definitely hitting that for the road.
I had a legal pad with me, took out a pen, and wrote in large capital letters:
DON’T HIT THAT
CHERYL WILL FIGURE IT OUT
SOMETHING ALWAYS GOES WRONG
MAYBE YOU MIGHT WANT TO CONSIDER
A LONGER ENGAGEMENT
TO SORT ALL THIS OUT
DIVORCE IS A BUMMER
I held up the legal pad so the guy could see what I’d written. He was pretty shocked and got off the phone pretty quickly, chasing down his waitress to pay his bill before he fled the restaurant. I saw this situation as a real score for us Super-Powerless folks. Although nearly nothing I might have done or said would have effected the guy on the cell-phone, given his Protective Force Field, I realized that the Protective Force Field does not create any visual impairment. Since this time, I carry a small, all-purpose sign that says:
DO YOU REALIZE I CAN HEAR
EVERYTHING YOU’RE SAYING?
I MEAN EVERYTHING!
The sign proves reasonably effective as a device for informing the Super-Powered that not all those around them in a public space also possess their powers. I have received numerous apologies from the Super-Powered, and most times, in the least, a decrease in the volume of the conversation. Occasionally, I have been told to “F*** Off.” Interestingly, the few Super-Powered people who have responded negatively seem convinced that it is not merely socially acceptable to announce their private information loudly, but that it is a right of theirs to impose it on other people—as if other people should not be able to hear that information, despite the public nature of the space we share. This is precisely why the Super-Powerist presumption needs to be challenged. I say, let us educate the Super-Powered, so that they come to recognize they share the world with Super-Powerless people.