Thursday, June 18, 2015

"What do you do?"

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.


amulbunny's random thoughts said...

I read a ton of books, I do research on things that interest me and I deal with chronic pain 24/7.
I have a BA in European History, but I've been a store cashier, a credit analyst for a computer company and a customs house, a bookkeeper for H&R Block for 8 tax seasons, a substitute teacher for K-8, and a special ed high school teacher. I went to work for our US Govt in the most corrupt and mismanaged agency in history. In doing my job, I was injured and have never forgiven myself for going for what I thought would be a good thing.

So when asked I what I do, I just say I am a disabled federal employee. Who has to go to the doctor once a year to show that I am still in the same condition, which will never get better.

There ya go!

B said...

As someone who is bad at small talk, it's one of those questions I ask people. I use it as "tell me more about yourself," which I should probably say instead!

jojo cucina cucina said...

Hi amulbunny and Bethany! Somebody's here!!! lol...

I've said this before but it's worth repeating. People just don't ask questions very often of others period anymore. I don't know if we are too worried about being politically correct these days and might say something stupid without knowing it (something that i have been known to do, especially after a couple of glasses of wine), or they just aren't curious enough about the person they are talking to, or they think it's more polite to not get too personal or nosy.

I happen to love nosy people who ask brave questions. But hardly anyone does anymore. I too am bad at small talk and because of that i do find myself asking questions that are maybe too personal. Just a few months ago while in Portland i was having dinner at a bar alone while my husband was in class and this really nice gentleman in his late 70's or 80's was already sitting there. (I always look for sitting next to a safe person while dining alone and this time i got it right.) I introduced myself and we got to talking about Portland and where he worked and somewhere in there i asked him if his family lived here and if he was married. He laughed and said he had been married three times but was now living with a long time companion and though i was still on my first glass of wine what flew out of my mouth was this: "What made it so hard for you to stay married?" and then immediately i followed up with that i was sorry for getting so personal and that I myself had been divorced twice. But he told me not to be sorry and he answered "i think i can sum it up by saying after awhile you can just get tired of a person and outgrow them and that's what happened with me."

We ended up having a really good conversation for the rest of my dinner and he thanked me for sitting down next to him.

louielouie said...

to the what-have-you-been-doing since-you retired questions, I usually say, "Darn Little" because it's true.

Worthwhile Activities for 6/21/2015

Cut and served pie at church
Cleaned three kitchens
Made father's day dinner: BBQ chicken, baked beans, corn on the cob, cantaloupe, green salad and a Martha Stewart raspberry dessert (baked yesterday).
Enjoyed said dinner with my husband, daughter and mother.
Successful day all in all

Actually, when I write it out, it sounds like a lot. I think sometimes we forget all we do do. (heehee do-do) As i write this I remember that I also worked out this morning and set up for communion (with bread I baked yesterday) before church. And of course I made one of pies I served too. it doesn't seem right to include watching the Mariners and the Us Open on TV as "doing"

Tonight I will start a list of To-Dos for tomorrow and the rest of the week. Without my lists, I would truly accomplish very little. I do go in spurts, accomplishing much one day and then very little the next.

My main goal for the rest of today is to drink a Guinness and do one of the Sunday crosswords. A very successful day indeed!

My main goal for the rest of the

B said...

We should have dinner and ask questions of each other, Jo! The week closure is coming up, so I'll have a more flexible week for something in the evening...or maybe lunch even!

jojo cucina cucina said...

That would be great Bethany!

Sarah, what you described does indeed sound like a lot! I had 10 people over for dinner plus Baby Brady, which i think should really count as two people given how much stuff he needs and how mobile he is. I made flank steak roulade with homemade spinach pesto and roasted red peppers and it was a big hit. I took photos along the way of all the steps and may put them in an album on Facebook for one of my cooking boards. I really did like it. I also made saffron risotto, and a big salad and parmesan bread. I like having people for dinner and not having them have to bring a salad or a dessert or whatever. Brady got to go swimming and loved it. And louie, he played with your wooden trucks! So nice to have them here for him.

I'm looking forward to going to yoga tomorrow, a run (since it's my third day so i HAVE to) and reading all day. I am re-reading Jaws. I have not read that book in 40 years and it's so different from the movie in many ways that it's like a new book for me. It's really a great read! I bought it at the used bookstore for 60 cents.

jojo cucina cucina said...

Funny, Facebook is so ingrained to me that i keep trying to LIKE a comment! lol.

amanda said...

I love advice columns and I see a lot of letter-writers complain about people asking too-personal questions. Usually I think "that's exactly what I would have asked" and then I wonder why the letter-writer is such a tightass not to just answer the question. I don't think questions are ever rude if someone is asking because they genuinely want to know. All my favorite stories come from asking slightly inappropriate questions of strangers.

jojo cucina cucina said...

I agree Amanda. If it's sincere and unadulterated curiosity and without malice or manipulation I love it. For example for me a personal question might be 'Why do you not have children? Is it because you chose not to or you couldn't?" Most people would NEVER ask such a question, but if someone did I would be thinking, "wow, this person is interesting to me now!"

pearl said...

I'm total crap at small talk. And it's hard to explain to people what I do for a living. If you ask me twelve times you'll get a dozen variations on a general theme: I translate 'actuary' into English. For a whole host of audiences. BFD.

I have a friend who was an engineer who designed and built sanitation treatment systems all over the world, including some of the more backward areas - contracted Guillane-Barre' in Sierra Leone, but I digress. Anyway...He hated small talk too, and when provoked by the WDYD? question one too many times at a party might well answer simply: "I'm in shit." I always loved him for that.

jojo cucina cucina said...

That's a great story about your friend!

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