Don't Ask What I Do

When meeting new people who ask me, "What do you do?" probably the most honest answer I could give is, “Wish I was dead.” I wish it every day and have for about as long as I can remember, since I was a teenager, some days more earnestly than others, some days maybe only once and others obsessively. However, I think that answer would freak people out, so I give the other most accurate one: "Take up space on the planet." 

Some people can't accept this. "No, but what do you really do?" Then I move to the next most truthful answer: "Drink beer and pet my kitty cats." They are my favorite daily things to do and they take up a lot of my time. Still some people can't accept that either. "Yes, but what do you *do*?" 

Now I cannot hold my annoyance in, so I sigh and say, "Do you want to know what I do to make money or what I do with my time to pursue my passions?" Do you want to know me like you know a tax return or like you read a book? I've spent a lot of my life wanting to *be* something, to be able to answer that greeting question succinctly, "I'm a such-and-such." A writer, a photographer, a chemist, an archaeologist, a chef, a janitor, a teacher ... Anything. Just an acceptable answer, a defining answer, so people will say, "Ah," and move on. But I'm not any of those things, really. (One day I want to lie, especially to someone dressed in a suit and tie, "I'm a prostitute." and see what reaction I get. or, "I'm a spammer.") I have no career. I dabble in this and that. I make very little money. When I complain to my husband my nebulous position in life, he says, "You make people happy. You inspire people." Lots of people tell me that (on account of sharing my travels and volunteering experiences), so you'd think I'd feel content, that I need neither to wish for death nor pine to slap some convenient label on my time. I can make everyone happy save me. 

So I detest that question, asked of course so innocently, out of habit: "What do you do?" I think it's a vile, vulgar question; I'd rather be asked how much I weigh. Just punch me in the stomach if I ever ask it of you.


Nederland, CO

About me: On principle, I should leave this blank or say I take up space on the planet, but I'll throw out some this-and-that, what the heck. You can check out my published essays at; you can check out some of my photography at; you can read my travel blog at You can follow me on Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, or on foot when I'm hiking. Just don't ask me what I do.

Shara SinorComment