Thursday, December 8, 2011

Closed circuit to world: I don't give a damn what you do for a living

Tis the season for holiday parties, lots of social mingling, and meeting new people. If you happen to meet me at some point over the next month, and want me to think you are a shallow, insecure, status conscious idiot, please ask me in the first minute or so of conversation, "So, what do you do for a living?". It happened to me twice yesterday. The first guy I was sort of civil to and told, albeit in an 'aw shucks' rube-like accent, "I sell stickers!". The woman that asked was so smarmy and obviously attempting to see if I had a status or social level worthy of her conversation time, that I told her I was the entertainment booking agent at the Club Seville in downtown Minneapolis. It turns out that my buddy Schu is a part owner of that fine establishment, the most high end 'Gentleman's Club' in the area. He has told me that if I want to meet a famous Laker basketball player, a man who had some trouble in Colorado a few years back, all I needed to do was be at the club about an hour after the Lakers played the Timberwolves. In any event, my comment and eager explanation of the mechanics of my 'job' made the woman back away to find another poor sap to quiz on his status and income.

I am trying to think of something more uninteresting for either you or I than what either of us does to put bread on the table. Nothing comes to mind. Even 'where are you from' or 'nice jacket, where did you get that?' have more value and conversation potential than the hated and overused 'what do you do for a living?' I've responded with 'I work my ass off so I can retire young' a few times, hoping the comeback would be a question about what I plan to to with that retirement time; that would be a conversation starter for sure. Unfortunately theusual response is an attempt to drill down and find out what they really pay me for so I can be categorized or cubbyholed in their tiny little minds. The thing that I really and truly don't give a rat's scabby behind about however, is what YOU do for a living. I swear to god, I absolutely do not care about your career. Whether you were an assistant to Mother Theresa or the slimiest used car salesman in the state, I just don't think its relevant to anything that I care to know or learn about you. I don't care if you are a self made millionaire or don't have a pot to piss in or a window to throw it out of. If you feel that your entire identity and soul are tightly wrapped around your career then I'm probably not interested in knowing you because you won't have time to do anything fun with me anyhow, you'll be too obsessed with working. I'll be honest; I don't like to work. I guess that's why they call it work. I see the value, in that my vocation gives me the means to pursue my avocations, and I realize that in business networking (one of my least favorite terms) I need to have my cute and polished little 'elevator speech' for prospective clients. I also really like steak a lot better than Alpo so I'd better save for that retirement. But to talk about work in a purely social setting, usually in conjunction with a party or some outdoor activity eg. kayaking, skiing, hunting, to me is more boring than watching a bridge rust.

OK, OK, tirade over for now. I would however, appreciate comments and any smart ass comebacks for that insipid question when it gets asked. Perhaps if we all cut those bozos off at the knees it will stimulate intelligent and meaningful conversations throughout the holiday season. Discussing what you do when you aren't at work makes for a much livelier and worthwhile conversation. Lets keep that in mind as we circulate, spreading our own little brand of holiday cheer, during this Christmas season.


Bryan said...

Just tell them that you're a blogger. But, seriously, it doesn't bother me. It's usually not the first question that I ask, but after awhile, I think it's interesting to find out what people do in life. As a percentage of time spent in our lives, work takes up a big chunk of that. When it comes to teaching sea kayaking or photography, which are two subjects that I teach, knowing what someone does for a living can work as a clue to see how I can best teach the subject. Someone that's an engineer often learns differently that someone that's a arborist.

René Seindal said...

I just say "I kayak" :-)

RoyM said...

Interesting......I realized that after all this time, I still don't know what you do for a living......guess I should ask some day ...maybe in a year or two:)

especially after reading this blog

DaveO said...

Bryan-we actually learned some techniques to uncover learning styles at the last ACA instructor update that did not involve vocations.
Rene - I wish! I need to pay you a visit in Venice
Roy - I'll fill you in in 2013 or so..... said...

Wow are you spot on! I just say I'm self employed. I work so I can enjoy myself. On Lake Superior of course. Up the Northshore,Southshore or any shore on the big lake.