What Do You Do?

When introduced to a new acquaintance one of the first questions exchanged is the typical what do you do. As vague as the question is people want to hear about a job or career.  Of course our work consumes a major portion of our lives and once someone knows what we do they can construct an assumption of who we are. We live in a society with an invisible hierarchy of career values.  Some jobs fall into the exciting category while others are boring, prestigious, well-paying, or looked down upon. 

Sometimes we try to mask our real job under a fancier title so people don’t lump us into a category we don’t want to be in. No one wants to be a telemarketer so they have a nicer sounding title like customer service representative or sales specialist.  We all want to be specialists, right?

Since I’ve returned home after the Pacific Crest Trail I haven’t returned to the workforce full time and I’ve maintained a couple part-time jobs, so when people ask what I do I have an arsenal of options to choose from.  Sometimes I try to impress people so I’ll say I’m a Laser Operator.  People often think of neon bolts, and light sabers, and the voyages of the starship Enterprise. The reality of cutting thousands of tiny metal parts just isn’t as fun but I don’t tell them that.

Other times I entertain myself with peoples reactions when I tell them I’m a writer or my favorite—a long distance hiker.  The conversation transforms into story time and I can steer the reins in a multitude of directions.

On long distance trails I love meeting new people because no one cares what anyone does to fund their adventures. The best part of meeting new people on the trail is the fact there is always new stories to be told.  When I’m introduced to someone named Cheese Snake, or Ninja Tank, or Sideshow I know I’m in for a good story.

Next time I’m introduced to an accountant or software developer I kind of want to introduce myself as Crusher and say I sometimes crush big miles, but I always crush multiple pints of ice cream. I suppose they might slowly back away without taking their eyes off my bearded face, and that’s ok.

In all seriousness though, I want to start introducing my friends in a way which captures their personality.  There’s my friend Tim who brewed a pumpkin ale using a pumpkins he grew in his own backyard, and there’s my friend Ryan who breathes poetry into existence in both English and Spanish.  These introductions are so much better than introducing Tim the intern architect and Ryan the grad student.  Instantly the introduction breaks down barriers and creates stories and connections.  This world needs fewer barriers and more stories.