An Honest Answer

Dearest Normal Humans, whose rituals & customs confuse & bewilder me to this very day, please explain the following scenario to me:

You show up at an event where you don’t know many people, like a friend’s performance or a church coffee hour or a Tupperware party. You end up standing next to someone & you introduce yourself to each other. Then the person you just met asks “And what do you do?”

Not “How do you do?”

What do you do?”

This is very Los Angeles, bee tee dubs, & is always answered with aspirations & outright lies. “I’m an actor/writer/producer” which translates to “I was in a student film/I have a blog/one time I filmed a squirrel with my iPhone” because nobody wants to say they wait tables. 

But it’s also correct.

Because you don’t wait tables. That’s not what you do. You dream. You plot. You conspire. You walk the dog. You binge watch Justified on Netflix.

This is not limited to people with “day jobs”. Doctors, lawyers, therapists & the like also hate this question because the answer inevitably is followed by a request for free advice. Hey, when I come into your restaurant, I don’t ask for unlimited, free globs of goat cheese. So stop now.

The truth is, nobody likes the question “What do you do?” but you assholes ask it anyway, like what a person does matters if you’re not at that very moment purchasing a good or service from them. Yes, how you contribute to society is important, but it is only 1/3 of who you are. 

I don’t understand why the “go to” question for meeting new people is not “What brings you here?” Because that makes sense. “Oh, I’m with the DJ/I’m a huge Gotham fan/they have amazing latkes” are all way better conversation jumping points than how a person earns money.

From now on I’m going to answer “What do you do?” with such raw, brutal honesty that heads will spin & genitals will literally dry up & drop off. I will say the first thing that comes into my head. Here are some examples.

What do you do?

  • Listen to The Killers “When You Were Young” on repeat.
  • Imagine complex post apocalyptic scenarios in my head, not to write down, but simply to amuse myself.
  • Pray.
  • Hate small talk.
  • Think about what it must be like to be a cat.
  • Fantasize about avoiding men I find attractive.
  • Attempt to see the universe as it truly is by taking on the perspective of a quantum particle. Which is some rabbit hole shit, FYI.
  • Post random shit on Twitter.
  • Admire Albert the Great.
  • Survive.
  • Ponder how much Jesus must love our stupid arses.
  • Wonder if my friends love me as much as I love them.
  • Try to figure out what my style is.
  • Lie awake at night wondering why Daryl won’t shower.
  • Avoid editing a novel I wrote 3 months ago.
  • Become annoyed by a number of smells and sounds.
  • Wonder if rich people ever feel uncomfortable.
  • Use every fibre of my consciousness to not worry about germs.
  • Imagine dancing.
  • Try to figure out what I can eat.
  • Pray for death. And other people.
  • Hope my family are okay without being so obtrusive as to ask them, because that wouldn’t be very English.
  • Try to remember things I’ve forgotten.
  • Walk around the house talking to myself in different accents.
  • Wish my boyfriend lived here.
  • Keep secrets.

If you are a normal human, please explain the “What do you do?” thing in the comments below. If you are not a normal human, try my technique above & report back with results. Let us change the status quo!*

*”Change the status quo” is a totally legit response to “What do you do?”


5 thoughts on “An Honest Answer

  1. Lemur King says:


    – I am into animal husbandry (no, but the looks are priceless)
    – Continue my lifelong search for the perfect egg roll
    – Collect every copy I can of “Catcher in the Rye” (to see if They are paying attention)
    – Cat therapist
    – Wonder why effect of genetics on human behavior is such a taboo
    – Ponder the ethicality of yelling “movie” in a crowded firehouse
    – Think about my first official act when I am made king

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