When you first meet somebody what’s the first thing you say? “Hi, my name is Chris” or Mable, or Sue-beth, or Harry or whatever your name may be. This is pretty standard fare no matter what your current locale. Move to a place where you’re a minority aka expat, and that first question is followed up by “Where are you from?”
What typically comes next? If you’re an expat living in Hong Kong, after you’ve answered “Where are you from” by attempting to detail the closest location that the person you have just met might have heard about, you will be asked, “So what do you do?”
This is by far the most important question. Your name could be Sally Sucksalot and you could be from Herpes County but if you reply, “I work for Some Place Important Inc.” then you shall receive raised eyebrows and a business card will magically appear in your hand even if, now this is the amazing part, even if your hand is in your pocket. At any social gathering this can be expected to happen at least once, and many nights once you finally stumble home you can expect to find business cards tucked away on your body in the most surprising of places.
Just last night I found cards…
In my left sock.
Under my hairline
Between my shoulder blades
In a pocket I didn’t even know I had.
You are what you do plain and simple. If you currently live in Hong Kong or have for a while, or even in any major city where you’re out and about meeting “important” people (or people who think they are important) then you know of what I speak. How many of your “friends” could you call your actual friends? How many of them talk to you for who you are and what you can offer them professionally?
I would like to propose a social experiment to anyone reading this. I’ll understand if you don’t have the balls or ova to follow through on it, but this experiment at the very least deserves some consideration. The next time somebody asks you what you do for a living, just blurt the first thing that comes to mind AFTER the truth.
Dude in a blazer that costs more than what you made last month, “So what do you do?”
Answer, “I shovel shit for a living.”
Dude in blazer, “Seriously? You’re joking.”
Answer, “Seriously. Its very rewarding. I hire professional pooper scoopers to follow dog owners around when they walk their dogs and scoop up their poos. I have to train them all.”
Confused and disturbed dude in blazer, “It was nice to meet you.”
Answer, “So you’re a dog owner? I could follow you and your dog around to show you what I do, then maybe we could grab a biscuit or something.”
Dude in blazer is gone, only the vapor trails from his hasty escape are visible.
This would obviously be more interesting if you are a very attractive female that doesn’t look like she scoops up crap for a living. I’d be willing to bet that if somebody continues talking to you after you’ve professed your job as something less than important then that person either thinks you’re totally full of it or they’re not as concerned with your “standing” in life. Either way, you can tell the truth at some point and the ice will be broken with a good story that they will surely not forget.
I think my next job will be a muskrat groomer.