Three Really Annoying Questions

[Warning: Some will see this as an annoying whining rant, however I mean this as a retrospective of my social interactions. Whatever that means.]

I spent the weekend at a family members wedding festivities, as such I encountered the three questions that annoy me most in life:

  1. What do you do for a living?
  2. How do you like doing that?
  3. What do you want to do then?

Screw you all, those are damned annoying questions, but I bet you don’t really see why I think that yet so let’s go question by question.

What do you do for a living?

To me this question is something you ask someone when you want to know one of two things; a) what they do for a living or b) about how much money they make. More often than not as humans we are more interested in the answer to ‘b’ then we are to the answer of ‘a’. That means that if you are going to ask the above question you mine as well just ask directly how much money they make, at least then you are being honest.

Perhaps you just think I am being cranky about this, but next time someone asks you this answer with the most simplistic answer that you can. For instance I run and own a property management company, but I always answer that I am a property manager, not an owner of a company. Break your job title down to something that it really is, so if you are a project manager just say you help a team staying focused. When you say your job this way watch as people change the way they interact with you based on how glorious they think your job is or is not.

You will be annoyed too.

How do you like doing that?

After answering the first question you will often be presented with the third most annoying question in the world, which people look to see if you love or hate your job in hopes they can bond with you over said love or hatred. If you are as unfortunate as I am you will likely say that ‘it pays the bills’ which of course implies that I don’t love your job, but are not yet to the point of hating it.

Now I say unfortunate above because that leads directly to the next question, which is the second most annoying question.

What do you want to do then?

This can be formed many ways but it is essentially the cliched ‘if you never had to work again what would you do’ questions that then leads people to sagely advise that you try to make that ‘hobby’ into a career. How annoying is that?

Not as annoying as my response to the question (or at least what my response used to be): nothing. That’s right up and until the last few months had you asked me the above question I would have responded openly and honestly with: nothing. That is if I never have to worry about money again I would like to do nothing for the rest of my life.

Now let me clarify, most people assume that means sitting on my ass all day. Much to the contrary ‘nothing’ means doing many things that interest me on my on terms and timeline. I would hike, photograph, write, building things, race cars, travel – I would do lots of things, just only what I want to do and when I want to do them. I guess a less combative answer would be ‘everything’, but the question is simply too annoying to not answer with ‘nothing’.

Today I have had to revise my answer as my wife gets supremely annoyed by the fact that I am ‘rude’ when answering these all too common questions. Today I answer: ‘ideally nothing, but if I had to work I would like to write in some form, probably blogging’. A much more courteous and amicable answer for my wife’s sake.

Why though does this questions bother my so very much? Because it really is none of the other persons business, for just having met someone it is a very personal question. One that I would have a hard time even talking about with family, let alone someone I just met. My wife would argue that these people are just trying to get to know me, and it is a polite question. I would argue that if they want to get to know me they should ask what I have been up to, or what my interests are – and just because a question is common it does not mean the question is polite.

Bottom Line

I guess though if you put a gun to my head, the point I am really trying to get across in not so clear words is that we should just talk to one another, we shouldn’t seek to interrogate each other. What do we gain from quizzing one another? What do we gain for knowing a persons job or salary? I would much rather know your opinions and thoughts on any topic you want to converse about, because that truly helps to expand my mind and challenges both of us.

Life isn’t about knowing the details of a persons life, it is about debate, discussion, conversation, interaction – all things that are missed with the annoying interrogations that so very often frequent modern ‘socializing situations’.

Then again, this could just be the introvert in me popping up.

Originally posted for members on: September 20, 2010
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