I freaking hate when people ask what I do. As in, “Hi, my name is Poopsie. It’s so nice to meet you! So, what do YOU do?”
I want to be a smart ass and answer, “Oh, you know. The usual.”
And if pursued, I could add things like, “Breathe oxygen. Have menstrual cycles. Check mail. Like I said — the usual.”
There are four reasons the question, What Do YOU Do, pisses me off.
- When you ask what I do, like 90% of the time you really don’t give a shit about the answer, Poopsie. I’m on to you and your shenanigans. You don’t fool me.
- When you ask what I do, like 90% of the times that you actually DO give a shit about the answer, what you actually mean is something else, like maybe:
How much money do you make?
- When you want to know how much money I make, what you really want to know is this:
What is your social class?
Are you someone with whom I want to be friends?
Are you high enough up any food chains to add to my network?
I have issues with being judged, but I SERIOUSLY have problems with the social pressure to PRETEND I don’t know you’re judging me. Fuck that. I don’t play games, Poopsie. There’s no pretending going on over here. If you wanna know my socio-economic status, just fucking ask me straight up. I have zero beef telling you I’m on the low end of the totem pole.
- Sometimes, none of the above questions apply. Because sometimes, what Poopsie means is this:
What does your HUSBAND do?
Did you marry well?
Are you a good little housewife who cooks and cleans for your man?
Do you enjoy being a kept woman?
I think it’s pretty clear why I would resent this line of questioning. I’m nobody’s possession, I’m in charge of me, and if I do any housewifely duties it’s merely a coincidence, because quite honestly, I’d rather be on the computer banging away at my blog or my book or my various other projects than worrying about how long to boil the spaghetti noodles.
“The question ‘What do you do (for a living)’ might really be asking,
‘What are you valued for in this society?’
Let’s pause for a second and consider
why people might not like answering this question.
There’s a pressure, an idea,
that you need to have your story figured out
and your pitch perfect for whomever you run across next.
As though your story comprises the best of you,
and if you haven’t figure that out yet,
then you’re not quite …
polished. Ready. Perfect.
So why do people give such boring, stuffy, pretentious answers? We all know what Poopsie is really asking. Why do we continue playing the game?
“Truth be told, we regurgitate these canned answers
because they’re easy to repeat,
trance-like and semi-conscious,
over and over and over again.
No one wants to talk about their boring day job ad nauseam,
but it sure is easy to state your name, rank, and serial number;
it’s easy to prove that you’re a cog in the wheel
or a rung on the ladder—
just like everyone else.
It’s much harder, however,
to talk about other, more important aspects of life.
So, instead of finding more meaningful discussions,
we go about our days providing lifeless answers
to this lifeless question,
our collective discs set to repeat.”
I love their response. Instead of reeling off a job title and trying to make it sound better than it actually is, they suggest instead telling Poopsie about that which you are passionate.
So, to better answer the question, while at once dodging the judgment that comes with the answers nobody really wants except for the purposes of quick categorization, henceforth I shall answer thusly:
“Well, Poopsie, I’m glad you asked what I do. I enjoy reading and writing and spending time with my family. I also like seeing movies with my sister. What do YOU do for fun?”
“I know who I am.
That’s all that matters.
I will tell you right now who I am
if you tell me below.
Start the sentence with I am _____.”
Following Jennifer’s example, Poopsie, it becomes clear that my answer is sparse. Allow me to expand, since you’re interested.
easily irritated and just as easily pleased; addicted to Coca-Cola; a lazy perfectionist; in love with Twitter; a writer; able to sleep anywhere; always in the middle of at least three books simultaneously; a blogger; a loving and funny mother; a lousy housewife; terrible at styling hair; taken with the color pink despite what it has come to represent; disturbed by society; a voter; a democrat; a liberal; married to my best friend; fortunate to be alive; cursed with the ability to see shit for what it really is.
I could go on, but I think you take my meaning, Poopsie.