Monday, January 17, 2011

"What Do You Do?"

I met up with a good college friend who was visiting Seattle on Saturday night at Brouwer's Cafe in Fremont. We sat squished with 5 of her graduate student friends in a booth in the corner on the top floor of the restaurant. She was visiting Boeing with 45 of her classmates and a few professors, and most of them had joined us. That evening I was asked over a dozen times, "What Do You Do?" Since most often the question is referring to your career and how you earn money, I simply replied for ease of conversation, "I'm a gymnastics' coach." However, the fifth time I was asked this question, I stopped the woman I was just introduced to and suggested a question that would better describe who I was (although, maybe she didn't want to "know me" and just wanted to know what my job was for sake of networking). However, giving her the benefit of the doubt and assuming she was a friendly person, I suggested the following question for introductions, "What do you enjoy?" She looked at me as if I was insane and said, "That's such a hard question to answer."

I was in shock, but then realized that when I was a student I would've have had an extremely difficult time answering that question. It mustn't be my age though that makes this question easier to answer since these graduate students were all in there mid to late twenties as I am. So what is it? When did this question become so easy to answer for me or why was it so difficult to answer before? Despite being focused fully on myself as a student, I didn't know the answer to this question. Ironically, now that my focus is completely on my toddler (as those of you with children know that there is very little "ME time" when you have kids), I can answer this question in an instant.

I know this post seems to have nothing to do with the topic of my blog; however, it truly does. Had the woman instead asked me, "What do you enjoy?" I would have answered, "food, my son, educating, exercising, and coaching". Yes, food is listed first on my list of enjoyments. I love everything about food: cooking/baking with it, eating/drinking it, the nutrition of it, and shopping for it. You might think it's crazy to put food above my son, but we parents have to have one pleasure above our children and families, otherwise we wouldn't be a "ME" and we'd always think in terms of "US". In other words, we must put time into ourselves and food is what I like to put my "me time" into. I won't go on to explain the rest of my list since this blog is about food. I just wanted to rant about our skewed way of getting to know someone.


  1. Great topic! I also find it easy in our society now to ask "where do you live"? I think it's a pretty private question but somehow, right after meeting someone, that question always come up. A lot of times when I meet someone new and small talk, the most that person know about me is that I work in accounting and live in the Bothell area. There's so much more to me that they don't know. Sigh!

  2. Great post, Lisa! I wish just once someone would ask WHY I'm a stay-at-home mom. My answer would be long. But I think you're right, people don't really want to get to know you when they're asking that, they're really just trying to find a way to talk more about themselves! As in, "Oh, I'm a ____ too." It takes a lot of effort to get to know someone. A lot of listening.

  3. Nice post Lisa! It actually does relate to your blog's theme as this could be the "recipe" for getting to know people better. Ha, you like that, see how I tied that in...recipe, food...woo hoo. Anyway, I totally agree with your thoughts on this question. I actually talked about the same question in one of my posts, I think the "What do you do?" mentality drives the "Keeping up with the Joneses" society. It shows that people are very interested in what job/social status/material possessions others have so that they can either meet or exceed their peers' position. I guess to be totally fair, it sounds like these folks were in "networking" mode since they came out to visit Boeing. So, they were probably trying to figure out who could help them get a job after graduation. But overall, I totally agree that you need to know much more about a person other than just their career choice or how they earn money to find out what they're really about. But like my very intelligent wife states above, it also requires a lot of effort and listening as well.