Day #9 Of Vacation: Being With My People

Instead of taking time off from writing, I’ve decided to experiment and write my vacation in the third person.

June 7 — The day has finally arrived. Melissa will be meeting, mingling, and networking with fellow admins tonight as one of her favorite admin groups OfficeNinjas throws their first international event. This was her original reason for coming to London. It happened to work out with her love’s schedule so she added in extra days. Originally he was going to come to her in Barcelona. She was glad everything worked out the way it did.

As she prepared for the day it were the small things which frustrated her. Her curling iron broke and her hair has not been nearly good in days. Not normally a problem. Tonight was the event and she was going with bad hair. Getting it done would have been futile with the weather. It felt like a huge problem.

Then there was the shipping of gifts. Buying gifts was one thing. Shipping was another. Plus, the gifts wouldn’t be opened for days or weeks. So much preplanning is needed now that she was out of the country. Days or a week in advance to ship would no longer cut it. The problem was she gets excited for the recipient to open it. One would think she was shipping a gift to herself.

Wrapping, shipping, moving things around, and coordination has not been easy for her. Just because she’s traveling the world she doesn’t want to start sending email gifts. The presentation and a written card were very important to her. They still are.

While on her run this morning none of these things were flashing through her mind. Nothing bothered her. All she could think about was being with her people. Admins. This year with We Roam has proved to be an interesting group of people, but no other admins. Not even a lot of entrepreneurs or service providers. This was going to be her time not to feel like an outsider but part of a tribe.

The last time she attended an OfficeNinjas event was as a panel speaker in November. When she left the next day and boarded the plane she already knew next year she would be traveling the world. It wasn’t until then she realized she would miss AdminBash.

Some people think it’s strange to be so committed to work and an association but she didn’t. When someone or an organization gets you, really gets you, they become part of your life. Being an OfficeNinja, an admin, and a virtual assistant are part of her identity as much as someone with a medical degree will always be referred to as doctor.

The great part was in OfficeNinjas she wasn’t alone. When you speak to other people and often coworkers there is always that one person who is disgruntled and can make you feel like an idiot for loving your job. As if it’s a crime or a sin. When you attend an OfficeNinjas event it is much more than a safe space. It is coming home to a family reunion where everyone is excited to see you. A real life party with food, drinks, games, giveaways, and prizes.

Today she wasn’t just going to be a part of Admingling, she was going to attend and witness their first international event. She was beyond excited! Only now the waiting game began. A countdown and tic tock of the minutes to pass were as slow as molasses in January. Not a regular expression of hers but definitely as dramatic as she felt at the moment. These people, her people, are that important to her.

Earlier this week with her love she went to a robot exhibit. She’s not a fan of robots or movies with robots. Her biggest competition in business is artificial intelligence and chatbots being confused and assumed to be the same as virtual assistants. Truth be told she’s the self-proclaimed low-tech VA. Working virtually and being tech savvy don’t go hand in hand like most people think.

The exhibit started off quite amazing. Technology and use of robots dated back farther than she imagined. Some of the earliest machines were for things she thought very useful including prosthetics. Genius! Is what she was screaming out in her head. What men and women were creating before that type of creation was even a thing was extraordinary.

For a moment she thought back to the book, 1984. It scared people immensely. Did the work taking place in the creation of these machines terrify people or excite them? Were they afraid of losing jobs or losing sleep because that which seemed like a ghost was playing out before them?

As the exhibit progressed it became very underwhelming. She thought the people who put together the Pink Floyd exhibit needed to come and show these people how it’s done. How can something about technology advances be so boring?

The next eras she passed through came from her generations a few before her. They were familiar without having significant meaning. She’s never watched the Star Wars Trilogy or the new versions to come out. Star Trek was something she was forced to watch when her dad was in control of the remote but she never got into it. All the others were a blur.

As a little girl she could remember watching Buck Rogers and still makes reference to it although no one else knows what she is talking about. Battlestar Galactica was another popular show, but they had since redone it and not many people are familiar with the original version. Knight Rider was cool. Who knew then that you would be able to communicate with your watch, have self-driving cars, and a car you can speak to and it speaks back?As she would say, That’s totally Buck Rogers.

Then they came to the latest and greatest tech advances and robots being made. Very impressive. Besides listing the number produced, cost, and year of invention the information cards listed the purpose of creation. Some were for studies. Others were factory oriented and medical devices. The most shocking category was companionship.

What?! She screamed in her head. Not a stranger to being lonely or working virtually and yet it never occurred to her a robot could take the place of a human. It did to someone. Many people. How can this be? At what point in life does it get so bad or hopeless you have no faith you’ll make human friends?

Maybe these people felt like humans were unnecessary or unreliable, too imperfect to be a companion. Even sadder. It was the one time she was thankful she wasn’t smart enough to build a robot. If she was her mind could have been warped enough to no longer crave human companionship.

Her mind had not been warped and with great anticipation and ultimate patience she made her way to the event that evening. The London admin force was extremely diverse and incredibly interesting. Their energy and candor was fantastic. This is what she had been missing. Her people. Everyone has people. Even those who think they aren’t connected are somehow.

There couldn’t have been a better way to end her vacation than to attend London Admingling. She was thrilled to be able to take this high she was on and get back to the work she loved so much. Not only had she learned so much great information about the local culture, needs, worries, and future she had made friends. When you leave a networking event where you’ve met people for the first time and you’re all hugging that’s a good sign.

She thanked the husband and wife founders for bringing this event to her (as if she’s the only one who benefitted) and left to catch the Tube home. She had only made it to the steps when she thought how sad it must be for people who attend networking events out of duty or ritual. Here she was making it a true vacation and counting down the days like Christmas. Everyone should have this type of family.

It was hard to read her book on the train. So many thoughts were going through her mind. Thinking about what so many women said had her laughing and she replayed classic one liners not heard in the States. What an event!

Emerging from the Underground she knew if she headed home now she wouldn’t have to walk the alley street too late in the evening. She also knew there wasn’t a chance she could go home when feeling like this. Back to the pub it was.

Tonight was much busier and there was a sports team there as well. She was forced to ask a man if she could share his table. The crazy thing about the pub, there was no bar seating. Not even bar stools. Fortunately the man was kind and allowed her to sit. Turns out he was leaving shortly anyways.

Melissa opened her book and pretended to read as she watched people and tried to compare their state of being with hers. Were they as excited? Was their evening just as good? Would they be this happy doing something work related? The closest she found was a man who had a dog in the pub with him.

At first she thought it was his. Then a woman came and picked the dog up and left. Maybe it was like a divorce parent dog weekend exchange. He could’ve been the pet sitter. Nevertheless, he was playing with the dog the entire time. Not just any dog. A very large dog. In a pub. The only reason she felt he matched her in excitement.

The walk down the back alley seemed as normal as could be tonight. Who knows why. She thought it might be from coming off a wonderful day. Or it could very well be in a few short days this had become her new normal. No matter. She would go to sleep with a smile on her face and enough memories to last the rest of the year until her next OfficeNinjas event.

My end of day gratitude:

  1. Not needing my passport to ship out items because I forgot to bring it with me. Again.
  2. It didn’t rain all day, only a portion.
  3. Attending OfficeNinjas first ever international event.

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