Live Long and Prosper
Since the age of five I have been obsessed with anything science fiction related. I loved watching the original Star Trek re-runs that came on late at night, and the new spin-offs that came on when I was a teenager. One day almost fifteen years ago I was staying at a hotel, in Charleston, South Carolina, and ran into someone who changed my life, in an unusual way. I never imagined my decision to have a drink at the hotel bar and an act of fate would introduce me to a world that I could not have imagined, the world behind “Star Trek”. In this world I was able to work with celebrities at conventions, learn how to become a trekkie, and do rewarding charity work.
I sat down on a barstool to order my drink, and as I put my purse on the bar I literally bumped into none other than Terry Farrell. Terry, a star of one of the Star Trek spin offs, was at the bar with a promoter named Joe. We all started talking and I was invited to attend the convention the next day as their guest. As I walked into that huge ballroom the next day I was surrounded by people dressed like Starfleet officers, Klingons and even a few Ferengi. Most of my friends thought I was nuts for going, but not me, I was having the time of my life. As I walked around deciding which collectible action figure I was going to buy, I noticed Terry was surrounded by overly excited people. I went over to ask what was going on and they explained to me that several people did not show up to work. I volunteered to help out and they put me to work at the autograph table with Terry. There were people in line crying, because they were meeting her, and she took her time with each person, making them feel special. After that day I was lucky enough to work at other conventions where I met several other stars and started my journey to become a full fledge trekkie.
The definition of a trekkie is an avid fan of Star Trek, science fiction television shows and films. To most people this sounds crazy but to me it felt like home. I grew up watching Star Trek on T.V. but never imagined I would get to meet the actual stars of the show and become a part of the trekkie phenomenon. Trekkie’s in my area would get together several times a year to organize functions and role play actual scenes as characters from the show. There were people dressed in black pants and either red, blue or yellow shirts with insignias to designate their rank and even had communicators much like they used in the shows.
One honor of becoming a part of this world was the charity work involved. Since I worked a regular job, my weekends were spent on the road traveling around to various charities we sponsored. One charity in particular that touched me the most was the “Ron McNair Shuttle Program”. Ron was an astronaut from my local town, who died in the space shuttle Challenger explosion. We gathered groups of inner city and special needs children together and had them do an actual space shuttle mission. The children would dress up as astronauts and were assigned an area they would be responsible for, such as: mission specialist, pilot or commander. It was so rewarding to watch children from diverse backgrounds work together to complete a successful mission. The sense of accomplishment was overwhelming at times. We also worked with local food banks and delivered meals to shut-in people, and yes, we were in full uniforms.
I look back now and realize just what being a trekkie has meant to me. It is one of the greatest highlights of my life. The world of Star Trek accepted me for who I was, no matter my background. Although I don’t help out with conventions anymore, I still keep in touch with my friends from those days. Just a few years back I received a package in the mail from Terry, it was an autographed book from Mr. Spock himself Leonard Nimoy and the inscription said “to Merri, Live long and prosper.”