Friday, August 14, 2009

What is it you do again?

I have a terrible habit, or problem, of not knowing exactly what my friends do for a living.  Granted, in this day and age it isn't so simple to say:  my friend makes horseshoes, or my friend owns a brothel.  You know, it's not 1885.

I have a couple of friends that are easy.  They are teachers.  We all know what they do because we have all experienced their work.  I have a friend who is a doctor.  Easy peasy.  But then I must delve into more difficult territory.  For example, I never really knew what the Engineer did before he was a student.  

I know it involved spreadsheets, and making power lines talk to substations. Exactly how he did that I never knew.  Maybe he told me once but I probably stopped listening when Friends got back from commercial.  Currently he works at a big investment bank.  I know that the bank is really famous and gets positive nods from people when I proudly tell them where he works.  But what does he do?  Umm, I think it involves calling people in Brazil.  And something to do with money.

One day my friend was visiting from Hong Kong.  She asked me if I knew what she did.  I said, "you convince big companies to use your bank".  She burst out that 'she was not a teller who stamped bankbooks!'.  I know that!  I said that!  She gets bigs companies to use her bank and works in marketing.  T repeated what she did.  I still think what I said sounds like what she does.

Another friend is a geologist.  I know that means she likes rocks.  She digs wells.  She digs in rocks for oil.  Pretty easy to understand right?  Somehow I don't think so.

It isn't that I don't listen.  It's just that I don't really understand.  But do I need to know more than what company you work for?

What I do is easy.  Well, to me at least.  

Once at a family gathering of the Engineer's, his uncle and patriarch of the family was speaking to me.  I must premise this with the fact that the Engineer is Chinese and comes from a large, traditional Chinese family.  By traditional I mean, highly ambitious, highly intelligent, highly hard-working DOCTORS.  The Engineer is an oddball.  So anyways, Uncle Patriarch (and doctor) asked if I was also an Engineer.  Oh no, I quipped, I am an actress.

Uncle took in a deep breath of excitement and said how wonderful.  I felt this was an odd reaction for a 70-year old Chinese uber-successful doctor.  And then he asked:  what insurance company did I work for?

Oh. Oooops

I had to correct him:  not an actuary, an actress.  But I am in an Aviva commercial if that helps?

He quickly ended the conversation and walked away.  Soon to be replaced by another uncle who was fascinated by my field.  Thrilled to know a real-life actress (you can insert freak here), he wanted to know what it exactly was that I did.

Me:  Have you ever watched TV?
Uncle:  Yes
Me:  You know those people on TV?
Uncle:  Yes
Me:  That's what I do.

Simple simple.  He was still quite perplexed though.  Understandably.  Why on earth would anyone want to face daily rejection, instability, and long periods of unemployment when one could be a doctor?  

Really, why would we do that?

Anyways, friends, I do know what you do.  I just know what you do in Sarah's terms.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I'm curious what you think I do "in Sarah's terms"??? (From Liz)