Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Doing what?

...So, what do you do?

It's a very common opening starter of a question that expats are often asked here in Cayman. For some this may feel like the norm, for others not so much. A couple of weeks ago I overheard a couple of women talking about how this is such a norm of a question for North Americans to ask, while noting that in France, for example people just don't ask questions like these.

Which got me thinking...Why do we North Americans have this incessant need to find out what it is that one does for a living. Does it make a difference? Does it define who a person is or make/break them?

It's even worse here on the island. Bermuda was the same where expats take it to a whole new level...after the 'what do you do' question, it's the 'Where do you work?' follow up and then when they are told the name of a company that they don't recognise, a quizzical look is borne. Further explaining is mandatory and if one isn't given, you're then asked, 'Well, where is that? What is that?'

It is often easy to forget that at times people just don't want to divulge where they work? How is any of that important? A little semblance of privacy in a place where nothing is private is a good thing.

And sometimes it pays to remember: You are not what you do, you are what you are.


bermudabluez said...

I TOTALLY agree with you on this!! Whatever happened to privacy anyway?? Not to mention the fact that some people are just plain rude!

ZenDenizen said...

Being a US native, it wouldn't occur to me that the question could ever be perceived as rude anywhere else.

Although I typically like to ask "What kind of music do you like?" to really get to know someone :)