Tuesday, December 20, 2005

what do you do?

what do you do?

a conversation with lilly yesterday unveiled a social interaction technique which i’ve been unaware of. after a bit of reflection, and analysis i now know what’s really going on..

at a party, or somewhere mingling with people i’ve never before met, i discovered a set of questions any and all ask.

in college it was
#1: “what’s your major?”,
#2: “where’s your hometown?”,
#3: “where do you live now?”

if nothing sparked from those three questions, chances were you were probably having the first and last conversation with that newly met person.

post-college a.k.a. the real world (or as i refer: “high school again”) there is only one question that people ask.

“what do you do?”

i told lilly that i dodge the question like neo in the matrix. there’s multiple reasons i do this. first reason: 9/10 chance that the next question from this newly met person is “oh, what is that, what do you actually do as a ____?” short story shorter, i end up talking about work. i talk about work at work, not at parties, bbq’s, clubs, bars, parking lots, kitchens, bedrooms, or street corners.

second reason: the categorization effect. as soon as you find out that someone is a harvard law graduate and works at the hottest law firm in the big bold city you live in, your mediocre ____ job just feels smaller. sometimes i’m the person feeling small, other times i’m the one making people feel small. regardless, i don’t like the situation either way. it kills the conversation, and upsets the comfort level.

third reason: david deangelo says not to. i wrote a blog about guys reading and watching videos in order to learn how to date/meet women. david deangelo was one of the guys selling the secrets to unlocking a woman’s wild side. i read a few of his posts and recall a few of his concepts. a key one was to avoid being boring. when a girl asks you what you do, don’t say you’re a computer engineer, she’ll yawn. tell her that you’re an underwear model!!!

deangelo’s technique was to be different. break the routine, be someone that she hasn’t met 14 times in the last six minutes.

point is, with “the question” on the table –you’re stuck talking about it. you’re making judgments/assumptions and so are they. basically you’re shooting down that fun, memorable, interesting interaction’s chance of happening between you and the newly met person.

i dodge. and dodge. and if they whip out the armor piercing bullets and ask “what job do you do for a living” i hit the trap door button and watch them fall down a shoot emptying into a pool full of hungry oversized crocodiles.

“hi i’m ____”
“hi. ameer, nice to meet you _______”
“so ameer, what do you do?”
“i normally eat, stand around, sometimes i have been known to talk to people”
“you eat? no i mean where do you work?”
“oh, work. well i’m working on growing a beard… how’s my progress”
“your beard looks…. errr *strange look* it’s growing”

from here i can tell if this person needs that ‘where in society does this person fit it’ feeling, or if they are willing to let go and hold the conversation that i feel should be held at parties, sidewalks, grocery stores, clubs, bars, lebowski fests, etc…

another pet peeve is the fact that everything reverts back to that job if it’s revealed.

“well, i like watching movies”
“oh, well since you’re an interior designer, you must like watching drama movies”

“i like fishing”
“ah yes, most of my friends in construction like to fish too. do you have a boat like they do?”

“i wrote a postcard to my friend when i was in france”
“oh, since you’re a journalist, do you, like, write everyone postcards when you travel”
“no, i thought the topless sunbathing woman with hairy armpits on the postcard was hilarious”

sure it aids in putting a memorable tidbit with a name, but c’mon. there’s thousands of other tidbits that can distinguish your acquaintances.

bottom line: what i do is not restricted to my occupational title. i blog too, and that’s just the ice berg’s tip.


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