On crowded flights, I inadvertently get asked this question: “So, what do you do?”
I hate it. It makes my asshole tighten up. People hear what they want to hear. Some get it. “World traveler, lover of culture, foodie, writer & book addict”, but most don’t. They tend to focus on “nude centerfold…oh, wait…isn’t that PORN?”
Europe, Canada, Great Britain, Japan and many other countries consider this question very impolite. Even if someone is a surgeon who owns a wall decorated with degrees. Asking someone what they do right when you meet them is akin to picking your nose at the dinner table. You may be greeted with an icy stare of disdain or a forced laugh to cover up the shock. And I agree with that.
Because they know that who you are as a person isn’t what you do. It’s the movies you like. What music you listen to. The hobbies you enjoy. The book you last read. The kind of food you love. The kind of workouts you do. If you have a dog or a cat…or birds. That’s who you are. Not how you earn your money.
But here in the USA, not so much. It makes me sympathize for all the garbage men, janitors and dishwashers out there who work very hard. And are great parents, love to tend their gardens and love watching funny movies.
“So, what do you do?”
On flights, where I’ll never see the person again, my answers vary.
Tampa to Philadelphia: “I’m a social media expert.”
Philly to Tampa: “I’m a horse breeder.”
Columbus to New Jersey, “I’m a quantum physicist. I’m actually on my way to CERN this evening for a meeting about the Large Hadron Collider.”
Louisville to Atlanta: “I’m a sniper.” And so on.
Because it doesn’t really matter anyway. What you DO isn’t who you ARE.