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Old 07-25-2014, 09:48 AM
 
Location: Howard County, MD
2,223 posts, read 2,982,014 times
Reputation: 3365

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Quote:
Originally Posted by nj21 View Post
What is the fascination with this question? Is it to compare themselves to others? To "one-up" someone subtly? To be sure they're in your socio-economic class? Just to get the conversation flowing?

I'm just wondering because to me, it's somewhat annoying.

I'd prefer someone ask me about my hobbies, movies I enjoy, or places I have traveled.

How do you feel about this question? Maybe I'm just overreacting, but it's gotten to the point that I am asked that question so much that it is an instant turn-off and I either say starving artist or still finding out.

I personally am not defined by my employment because to me it's just a means to doing the things I actually enjoy.

I was even playing Words With Friends and my random, stranger opponent asked me this question.

So again, how do you feel about this question? If you ask, then what is your reason for doing so?
The best explanation I can think of: If you've ever seen Taxi Driver, the older cabbie/mentor figure to Robert De Niro's character says something along the lines of "A man takes a job, and he becomes the job." What people do work wise is a big part of people's identity (especially men I think), and I think the fact that our discourages introspection and self awareness facilitates this.

I like to talk about it since I'm in a pretty fun field (dog training), but its also annoying how much meeting people in DC quickly becomes "Where'd you go to school/who do you work for".
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Old 07-25-2014, 11:18 AM
 
Location: North America
19,635 posts, read 12,382,972 times
Reputation: 8278
I usually say I do as much as I can get away with. The rest is strictly covert.
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Old 07-25-2014, 12:47 PM
 
Location: Atlanta
213 posts, read 224,115 times
Reputation: 296
I haven't read thru all the comments but I too share a disdain for this question as well. And before anyone starts, I am very happy in my job.

It certainly is an American way of starting a conversation. Maybe because I have had the opportunities to experience different cultures all over the world, I see this question a little bit differently than most. Almost everywhere else in the world this question would be viewed as rude and offensive. I agree with the statement that what I do for a living does not define me as a person. Even if I love what I do, still it tells you nothing about my interest, hobbies, likes-whether I’m a good or bad person, etc.

Most Americans( I am American) feel a need to define and identify themselves by titles. To me this is a backwards @ss way of doing things. Generally speaking, we will give undeserved respect and attention to someone simply because they are a Doctor, Lawyer, Judge, etc. Never mind the fact that the guy is a complete @sshole as a person! But when you ask the guy who is a garbage collector or janitor what he/she does, you’re immediately dismissive because some have determined they belong in a lower social class. You'll never know that he/she is the nicest, kindness person that would give you the shirt off of their back if you asked. This is why I hate that question. It's just a way of sizing people up. Perfect example………..being a young black male who tends to travel in Business class on a plane quite often overseas, that question is often asked by people whom feel for whatever reason I don’t belong there. Somehow I am upsetting the social balance of the plane…… I feel it burning in the 4 four corners of the mind of whomever I’m seated next to….it’s just a matter of time before the “ so what business are you in?”

I do get that many know no other way to start a conversation and it’s something that is done because it has been engrained in them. I even understand it will eventually coming up in a convo, but when it’s the first thing you ask......I have no conversation for that person.
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Old 07-25-2014, 01:43 PM
 
3,154 posts, read 3,043,218 times
Reputation: 8686
Quote:
Originally Posted by kayoticworld View Post
I haven't read thru all the comments but I too share a disdain for this question as well. And before anyone starts, I am very happy in my job.

It certainly is an American way of starting a conversation. Maybe because I have had the opportunities to experience different cultures all over the world, I see this question a little bit differently than most. Almost everywhere else in the world this question would be viewed as rude and offensive. I agree with the statement that what I do for a living does not define me as a person. Even if I love what I do, still it tells you nothing about my interest, hobbies, likes-whether I’m a good or bad person, etc.

Most Americans( I am American) feel a need to define and identify themselves by titles. To me this is a backwards @ss way of doing things. Generally speaking, we will give undeserved respect and attention to someone simply because they are a Doctor, Lawyer, Judge, etc. Never mind the fact that the guy is a complete @sshole as a person! But when you ask the guy who is a garbage collector or janitor what he/she does, you’re immediately dismissive because some have determined they belong in a lower social class. You'll never know that he/she is the nicest, kindness person that would give you the shirt off of their back if you asked. This is why I hate that question. It's just a way of sizing people up. Perfect example………..being a young black male who tends to travel in Business class on a plane quite often overseas, that question is often asked by people whom feel for whatever reason I don’t belong there. Somehow I am upsetting the social balance of the plane…… I feel it burning in the 4 four corners of the mind of whomever I’m seated next to….it’s just a matter of time before the “ so what business are you in?”

I do get that many know no other way to start a conversation and it’s something that is done because it has been engrained in them. I even understand it will eventually coming up in a convo, but when it’s the first thing you ask......I have no conversation for that person.
Wow, you are traveling in Business class - overseas no less - and you find it rude (and possibly racist) that someone would ask what business you are in? Your assumptions are way out of line - those are obviously things that YOU think. Not what's going through the rest of our minds. I'd be thinking you must have some really interesting job to be traveling overseas on business, and I'd be interested in hearing about it. Is it rude to ask if you're traveling for business or pleasure or is that one OK? If you say business, is it then OK to ask what kind of business, or do we have to suddenly shift the conversation to plane food in order not to offend? (and wouldn't it be rude NOT to ask, after you said you're on business??)

As for other cultures, I've lived overseas and the first question I was always asked, without exception, was "Where are you from?" Immediately following that, for women, how old are you and are you married. No, that's not rude at all.
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Old 07-25-2014, 01:50 PM
 
Location: Seattle some of the time now.
727 posts, read 521,053 times
Reputation: 1238
I dread this question personally because I don't do anything. So it takes more sentences to explain & then it's not anything interesting. If I say I'm retired, the follow up question is, "What did you do?" Which only makes things more difficult to explain. I was a stay at home Mom. I loved being there for my kids & am grateful I was able to do that. And now I'm able to be there for my grandkids. It's just that it leaves the conversation rather flat.

Having said that, I love to hear what other people do. Some jobs I find fascinating & want to hear more about them. Some I've never heard of but want to learn about them, if the party is willing to discuss it. Some people, such as a couple I met recently on vacation don't want to talk about work when they're away from their jobs. The husband & the wife I met were prison guards in a very rough state prison. They wanted to forget about work while rafting down the river. Who wouldn't?

It's not a subject I bring up. But if it comes up & the person wants to talk about it, I'm good with that.
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Old 07-25-2014, 07:28 PM
 
Location: Atlanta
213 posts, read 224,115 times
Reputation: 296
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mnseca View Post
Wow, you are traveling in Business class - overseas no less - and you find it rude (and possibly racist) that someone would ask what business you are in? Your assumptions are way out of line - those are obviously things that YOU think. Not what's going through the rest of our minds. I'd be thinking you must have some really interesting job to be traveling overseas on business, and I'd be interested in hearing about it. Is it rude to ask if you're traveling for business or pleasure or is that one OK? If you say business, is it then OK to ask what kind of business, or do we have to suddenly shift the conversation to plane food in order not to offend? (and wouldn't it be rude NOT to ask, after you said you're on business??)

As for other cultures, I've lived overseas and the first question I was always asked, without exception, was "Where are you from?" Immediately following that, for women, how old are you and are you married. No, that's not rude at all.
I never knew that all Business class travelers had a spokesperson that relayed the thought process and personal feelings of each and everyone of them collectively. Who knew........ But seriously you may not feel that way and honestly find delight in sparking a conversation that way, but there is no way for you to know how all people feel. I've had this same conversation with some of my colleagues numerous times and I can promise you I am not the only one to feel this way. No point in getting into a debate about it though.

Almost anything can be innocent in intent, but there will always be a risk of offending someone. You could ask A woman how far along she is in her pregnancy? Some will find joy in that conversation and some will not. Especially if she is not pregnant! Should she apologize for your assumption? Even if she is pregnant and feel that's her private life and none of your business- I guess by your reasoning she would be wrong to feel that way and just should happily answer whatever question you want an answer to. We are all different and do not think the same. Being that this was a subjective question in the first place, one should expect to hear thing that don't parallel their own thought process. I offered my opinion.... That and $1.06 will buy you something off of the dollar menu where I live.
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Old 07-26-2014, 08:17 PM
 
19,081 posts, read 21,826,577 times
Reputation: 13432
I think it's a pretty innocuous question. Folk don't always know what to talk about so job and family comes up. How we spend our days does give insight into what we're up to in the here and now. In the past I have asked people "what's your trip" and that wasn't always well understood either.
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Old 07-26-2014, 09:44 PM
 
5,703 posts, read 16,120,032 times
Reputation: 8557
Quote:
Originally Posted by thinkalot View Post
I think some people ask the question to compare or determine your place in the pecking order. Others just don't know what else to talk about. That's kind of sad. You can see some people are really bothered if you don't tell them what you do.

I now live in a 55+ community. Hardly anyone asks that question. We talk about what we are doing now, not what we did. A few still refer to themselves as a teacher or engineer but they are just laughed at. My 90 year old neighbored has snapped at a few by saying " I did not ask what you did." This is a woman with one hell of a resume.

When I worked we had a no talking about work rule when we were out. You spend enough time at work, why would you want to discuss it when you aren't there? Now in my 55+ we have a no ailments rule.

When asked I always answered "this and that." If prodded I said " a few other things." After you get to know someone it's a little different. Things would just come up in conversation and they would put together that I have had a pretty fascinating life, as one described it.
I stopped reading through all the posts because this is pretty much what I think as well (the bolded part). For some people their career is a big focus in their lives and for others hobbies and so forth. Nice to know about the 55+ community. I want to live there.

I personally never liked being asked what I do for a living because it has been mainly asked to determine pecking order. I have had great jobs and not so great jobs. I think the job I enjoyed the most was being a SAHM and it was pretty much a crap shoot on whether or not people felt this was a good thing. I was probably asked the most intrusive questions after telling others I was a SAHM. "Gee...dont you get bored? Don't you want a career? What do you do all day?" I think that is when I first started to dislike the question.

I am fairly happy with my job and where I work. It is a well known company and I still don't prefer to talk about it because of the nature of work I am in, people want the dirt. I actually signed a document when I got hired that I can't tell the public specific things so I just tried to avoid the topic of work altogether. Plus it is a high demanding job with long hours. When I am not working, I don't even want to think about it.

When I first moved to my neighborhood, it was immediately apparent to me, that what you do for a living is a big focus. My neighbors all started out with this question and so did others in social groups I met. A while back my son joined a group through school. I mingled with the other parents. I hit it off with two fathers and I didn't even think about it until later, not once did our careers ever come into the conversations. I never asked and they never volunteered. Sometime later one of the Mom's beamed about these two gentlemen and how one was a well known professor at the local university and the other was a prominent doctor. I had no clue and quite honestly I think that is why these two fathers were drawn to me and involved me more in some of the projects for the group. I was more interested in what we were doing for the kids and I think they were too.
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Old 07-27-2014, 05:52 AM
 
Location: Earth
4,506 posts, read 5,466,590 times
Reputation: 4935
I tell them I sell Propane and Propane accessories!
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Old 07-27-2014, 06:46 AM
 
Location: Atlanta
213 posts, read 224,115 times
Reputation: 296
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cyborgt800 View Post
I tell them I sell Propane and Propane accessories!
Hilarious! I might have to use that next time. Hank Hill
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