TGIF (vol. 3): why shouldn’t i ask?

Today’s TGIF commentary was a Facebook re-post from Upworthy, regarding being snobby when you first meet someone:


if you don’t feel like clicking, I’ll tell you. The question is:

“So what do you do?”

I’m sure the lady that wrote it, whoever posted it in my news feed on Facebook (I can’t remember now) was trying to indicate how they felt like we should all be more accepting of each other, and more permissive with those that may not have the best jobs or the most money, and honestly, I can’t fault those sentiments. Go humanity, support the little guy, don’t let The Man get you down, and all that.

But…honestly, it’s just a question. A question that says, “what do you do with your time?”

If that question offends you, if you don’t do anything at all or if I am not even supposed to ask, then what are you? A lump on a log?

Most people, of course, interpret it as, “what do you do for work?”

I don’t think this question is always meant to say, “what kind of job do you have and how much money can you spend on me?” Some, of course, are really asking that, and hey – if that’s what they are looking for, then let them ask. If you don’t have a job, or don’t want to spend money on them, then they probably aren’t who you are looking for and vice versa, and now you’ve gotten that out of the way right off the bat. Woot!

The author’s point is, that when this question is asked, the person being questioned feels like they will be judged based on the answer. Like the person is going to be viewed as less valuable if they don’t answer with some impressively awesome job that says “money” and “status” and “I’m pretty much the best thing since sliced bread”.

And I get it, I do. I can see how being asked that question might make people uncomfortable who, for whatever reason, don’t have a job or don’t want one, or aren’t proud of the one they have or whatever.

But honestly, we all have to make a living right? I mean, for most of us, we need a roof over our heads and food in our bellies, and a way to get from point A to point B, even if that means just a new pair of shoes. We all need those things, and are usually able to get them with varying degrees of success. I think the point is that it shouldn’t matter how we get them?

But how we get them does say a lot about who we are.

And that a bad thing really? If I’m asking this question, it’s because I’m either making small talk, in which case I don’t really have an opinion on what your answer is, or I’m thinking of spending more time with you, in whatever capacity. And in that case, I need to know (or want to know) how you spend your time. Are you a criminal? Are you responsible? Reliable? Ambitious? Do you just not care? Are you more focused on having fun? Are you just more all about the “experience”? Can you support yourself? What do you enjoy doing? What are your hobbies? I guess I could just ask all those questions directly, but I have to start somewhere right?

If the answer is, “I play video games all day because I’m independently wealthy”, then awesome. If it’s, “I wave a sign around on the corner all day but I can still take care of myself and pay my bills,” then equally awesome.  Or even if your answer is “I just enjoy life”, these are all fine answers. I’m just saying, if I’m going to be hanging out with you, it would be nice to know that I don’t need to worry about paying your way every time we go somewhere, or that if I invite you to go to dinner you won’t feel bad and have to say no because you can’t afford it. Alternatively, if I know you’re not flush then I’ll be more careful about what I suggest that we do. And I’ll appreciate it more when or if you can do more expensive things.

Assuming that someone will judge you based on your answer to that question says more about you than it does about the person asking the question.

Most of the time, it’s just a question.

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