I have been wringing my hands about the fact I have not written a blog for what seems like an age. Every time I think 'Well THAT is a blog waiting to happen' life kinda gets in the way and I just do not get round to doing it. Then something else happens that infuriates or inspires me and the last thing gets forgotten. I can assure you that in my head, there have been several ground breaking, breath taking, heart rending blogs that will never see the light of day. Mainly because I have forgotten them.
So instead of all that lost brilliance with which I would have blinded you all, I will tell you a story and it starts with my job, which if you didn't know, is waitressing. Not glamourous and to be honest, in the height of summer in a 400 year old building with no ventilation, frankly sweaty!
I started this particular job in 2011. 2012 was when I saw my first 'proper' vapouriser, in the hands of my bosses. She had a dinky ego thing with a carto on top and he a bloody great tank of some sort (I still do not know what it was). I had only seen cigalikes up till that point and was not the least bit interested. I was a roll-ups smoker so I had no association with a plastic cigarette whatsoever. These fancy shiny funky tank thingies were something else though. And they had all these lush flavours like caramel and cinnamon and stuff. I remember going home to enthuse to my hubby about these bonkers things I had seen, he looked at me like possibly I ought not to have driven myself home cos clearly I had drunk too much after work and was talking nonsense.
My interest was piqued though, so I sat at the PC and sought out the site my boss had told me about. Scared myself shitless and thought I would look again at some other point. I did, still had not got a clue what I was looking at, what the hell a boge cartomiser was or why I would want to punch one or what a coil was and why they came in 1.8ohms and 2.4ohms and WHAT THE HELL?!?! AM I BACK IN SCHOOL?!
If you have read my first blog you will know what eventually forced me to bite the bullet. If you haven't, then read it cos I am not going to explain again now. The Why, is here, the How is another matter. I sat staring at page after page of 'stuff', occasionally exclaiming to my husband 'What the hell is this? What does it do? Do we need one? Two? I am going to do this! I swear I am not leaving this seat until I have. FFS WHAT IS 18MG AND WHAT DOES IT MEAN? Ok, I'll just make a coffee and look again. YES I KNOW IT IS 1 O'CLOCK IN THE MORNING THANK YOU VERY MUCH!'.
Eventually I signed up to the forum for that vendor. Introduced myself and asked for help. And I got it, I got so much of it I felt a bit like crying. I was a fish out of water and I was stepping into what was clearly an established community, and they embraced me! I mean, I asked every moronic question you have ever heard. I even posted exactly what was in my basket to ask if it was right. All the things we have seen countless others do on our respective forums. They helped me. Supported me. Patiently explained what everything meant.
I ordered all the kit and knew that when it arrived I would be back on there asking what to do next. I felt safe doing that. I knew there would be friendly answers, 'how's it going's. I felt no pressure whatsoever and a group of strangers helped cement the idea in my mind that I was going to enjoy this! I was actually looking FORWARD to it. I have a lot to thank that forum for and although it is still going it is not very political so probably not reading this, but if any one of you are, please have my thanks and pass them on to those still active.
So why is this relevant? About a week ago someone who is not a vaper, but is an ardent supporter with basic knowledge, asked for help to buy a kit for a smoking friend. Among the ensuing emails between a small group of us, it came up just how confusing this can all be to the new person jumping in. Or, in this case, the person buying a vapouriser on behalf of someone else.
So I logged into that first forum tonight (just before writing that last paragraph) and revisited my first few posts. I almost do not recognise the person writing (apart from the stupid sense of humour which I seem to have lost along the way). My attitude towards myself as a smoker. What I wanted from vaping. That 'vapers tongue' that hits in the first few weeks that mean you can't taste anything. What can happen when you start on a VG blend. I remembered all the support as written above, but reading through it all, it was SO much more.
I have learnt a lot about myself and my habit in the past 21 months as I am sure we all have, whatever the length of our journey. However, I had forgotten what it was LIKE to be that person, first putting their toe into the water, how bewildered I was. I had forgotten JUST how fundamental that support was in my success. I was a fairly typical smoker for whom all the organised, sterilised support systems were never going to work. Irregardless of how good they were and we know there are good ones out there! I was not and am not exceptional, I was normal. There are millions like me.
Jump to this weekend at Vapefest and I am reminded again of what this community is. A beautiful soul of a man (@bobtherandom) sat at a picnic bench, whilst it tried to rain on us, with a butane powered soldering iron trying to fix my Evic.
Another friend (@twigolet) offering me the spare bed in her room to save me camping on my own, so I could go to the event. Why? Because that is what this community can do, it is what it does.
It is not just what happens online in forums and on Twitter or Facebook, it is every snatched conversation on the street or at work when a smoker asks a question and someone has an answer.
Vaping is a movement, millions of people who aren't even really aware of what they are a part of, but when called upon for help, they will give it. Not for anything in return, but cos they want to share and they understand. Despite the title (another PKD reference) there is nothing little about it.
THIS is what makes us all remarkable. Incredible even. I will link to three of my first threads for you to read, especially read the stories in the 2nd thread ( Shiny, Benefits, Weird.). Don't forget that this is how many of us started and many are now joining in the same way. Don't forget the help you might have needed at the very beginning and that each of us are essentially On Call for that moment when someone needs support. We shouldn't preach, we are not out to convert. This is not a religion and we are not zealots.
In amongst all the political wrangling, the blind ideological arguments we find ourselves fighting against, the anger, frustration and upset all this causes, don't forget to feel proud about what we are a part of.
When Jean-Francois Etter said 'You cannot stop a tsunami with a law', he was right.
The community is what drives that.
Thank you xx