I was prompted to write about this subject because a friend on Facebook posted an article about this very thing. He added that he hated when someone asked him "What do you do?" when he met them, being a job.
This question can be a real conversation killer and shuts it all down before it can ever get started. I have to admit that i too do not like this question when someone asks me upon meeting. I also hate even more, the question "Where did you go to college?" The reason being for that one is because i did NOT go to college. (At least I've always had a job before.)
As far as the What Do You Do question, i always answered that i was a union secretary. I always emphasized the word 'secretary' because i never bought in to 'administrative assistant' sounding better. While i get why flight attendants don't want to be referred to as 'stewardesses' i never understood the aversion to the term 'secretary'. However, it is not a glamorous job and certainly working for a union isn't going to make folks admire you as they would....say a civil rights attorney, or a NASA engineer, or a Medivac pilot (something i used to like to introduce myself as when asked this question of strangers, though as a joke - i would own up to it later).
Sometimes i think i hate this question because often people will ask it because they want to tell YOU about where they work. Or they simply don't care enough and this is the most original small talk they are able to come up with.
Because my second ex-husband liked to pretend he had money and hung out with some fairly wealthy people, we were often at some hoity toity peoples' parties which i dreaded so much because i never knew what to wear and had no friend among the women to ask. I detested most of the people on sight for the simple reason that I was 10 years younger, insecure at these events, and had nothing in common with them. Especially politically. And I am not kidding when i say i ducked the racist comments (of which i am not proud of now).
Real estate developers, designers who owned their own business, restaurant owners, etc. and lived in big homes in Gig Harbor or somewhere else on the water were in attendance. I was working as a waitress in a sports tavern and at the school district in the accounting office at the time. A wife of one of those moguls (is that the right word?) asked me where i worked and i answered the school accounting office and she responded with "Oh, that sounds boring." But you know what? I bet she is divorced now and i have a better credit rating than she does! I don't even think she had a job. (But she had new boobs, THAT i do remember.) Truth is, she was right. It was boring. That's why i got the union job! lol.
What do you do? I do my best. That's what I'm going to start answering.