Few things are more annoying than being asked a seemingly innocent question: “Oh, you're a programmer? I have a problem with my printer…” You may wonder what’s wrong with it. Well, how about “Oh, you’re an accountant? I have some tax questions I want to ask you!”
You see, it would be totally fine if it wasn’t so absurdly irritating. Talking about our professions is one thing, but assuming you know something the other person needs and thus, you have to help, even though it has little to do with your job, is another.
So when someone asked to share the annoying stuff people ask when you tell them your profession, it blew up on r/AskReddit, amassing 79.5k upvotes and 23.9k comments. Let’s see what people had to say and don’t forget to tell us what questions about your profession annoy you in the comment section below!
"Oh you're a geologist? What kind of rock is this?" Just kidding, we love that s**t and will tell you a long story of the history of that rock and how we saw examples in the field in the middle of nowhere.
"Oh you work in Social Media? How do I blow up my Instagram/Youtube?"
Conversation usually then goes somewhat like this:
"You need to provide good content that matches your target audience."
"Yeah....but I don't want to put any real work into that."
"Then buy 500k fake subs from India or China."
"But they are not real people."
"Well you are not providing any real content."
"Oh, you're a pharmacist? Well I have this huge, gaping wound on my left butt cheek, can you look at it and tell me what I can use over the counter?"
Sir... Please go to the hospital...
Confused conversational partners are real and they occur more often than we’d like. Think of the last time you told someone “I work for myself as a freelance writer” and received “Oh, so you, like, write books?” Most of us devote so much time and effort to our careers, it’s kind of irritating to get all those sorts of questions from people who have no clue what you’re doing (and often, they suppose they do!)
So, how to speak about your profession to people so you can share your enthusiasm and not receive any more annoying questions? To find out how to talk about your profession like a pro, Bored Panda reached out to Kat Boogard, a Wisconsin-based freelance writer who specializes in writing on careers and self-development. Kat told us that the real hangup is that we use our careers to define ourselves. That’s the reason why so many of us become irritated by the “what do you do?” question.
"Oh you're a Graphic Designer? Can you make a logo for me really quick? It's for my cousin's birthday. I don't have any money to pay but I'll have multiple revisions that will cut into your actual paying work time, but then get upset when you ask for payment"
"You're invited to my.. party/event/wedding/celebration.. please could you bring your camera"
"You're in the Air Force? So you fly planes?"
Nah I fly a desk.
“That can cause real problems for a lot of people. Maybe they're laid off or between jobs. Maybe they're starting their own business. Or maybe they work in a career that's not super 'obvious' to a lot of people. That means the 'what do you do?' question can inspire a lot of dread and even self-doubt.”
Kat said that the best way to describe your profession is just doing it head-on, “with the knowledge that a lot of careers are going to require more explanation than others.”
Moreover, “what do you do?” is often a default conversation starter, but Kat assured us that there are plenty of other ways to get the discussion rolling, like asking someone what hobbies they enjoy.
"Oh you're an artist ? Can you draw me, I'll pay you with exposure"
"Oh, you're a teacher? Please explain to me how my child's teacher had the audacity to give them a C despite it being very obvious that my child is a genius!"
Bonus points if they want you to explain the grading criteria in a completely different subject and level of schooling than you teach. Like, I teach high school and community college English and Social Studies - why do you expect me to know the grading criteria for middle school math?
"Oh your a musician, play that one that goes, bun dum dum bun dum donn bom"
Kat also suggested a way to deal with people who think they know everything about your profession. “As a freelance writer, I get a lot of puzzled looks when I tell people what I do for a living. Then they quickly move into the assumptions—like that I write books or I don't do much of anything all day.”
She usually uses an example that people can relate to her career in their daily lives. “So, when people are struggling to understand what I do, I'll say something like this: 'You know how when you're preparing for a job interview and you Google common interview questions? The articles that show up in the search results are the type of stuff that I write.'"
"Oh you're employed by our company as a robotic process automation engineer, does that means we're all going to be replaced by robots?"
I've come up with the perfect response to this now. "No, just you"
“Oh you work for a law firm? My son’s ex-girlfriend wants full custody of their kid. What should he do?”
A. I’m a mass tort paralegal, I don’t do family law B. He needs to get a lawyer.
Oh you are an accountant, can you do my taxes?
No Mary i can't. I work for a corporate company not frigging H&R block. I mean I probably could but I don't wanna.
"Oh, you are a Mathematician? What is 35122*748383?"
Use a goddamn calculator.
"You work in a restaurent? How about treating me to dinner sometime?" - A lot of people assume that they can get free drinks and food just because I happen to serve food or tend the bar at the place. That is not how it works...Also "We are friends so I don't need to tip you!" - Well, that is how you got unfriended really quickly.
I was going to have surgery and about 10 minutes before I was scheduled to go under the knife, the nurse asked me what I was studying. I told her I'm a computer science student and without skipping a beat she asked me to help her download WhatsApp on her Huawei!
Since I'm also studying genetics, I also often get requests like "does this rash look bad" or "can you clone my cat".
NO. LEAVE ME ALONE.
Oh, you work in construction? (Proceeds to ask about fixing things around the house, asking if something was installed wrong because it doesn't "look right", or wanting a price quotes for various projects)
Oh you're a paramedic? I have this thing on my toe, Will you check it?
"Oh, you're a chemical analyst? You must know how to make drugs"
Oh you’re an astronomer? Why is my outlook as Pisces so negative this month? I heard all the planets are going to be lined up what does that mean for my horoscope?
So you're a dermatologist? Have a look at this mole I found conveniently between my butt cheeks during this lovely wedding ceremony.
"oh, you're a writer? Can you help with this very important legal letter?"
And a non-job bonus: "you're married to my programmer son, can you help me with my phone?" My husband gets the "you work in IT, my printer isn't working" questions from his mum. She thinks he does tech support. He programs systems for universities, government departments, etc.
"Oh, you're a truck driver? Can you come tell me what's wrong with my car?"
Umm, ma'am, I just drive the damn things... You want the shop guys for that.
Oh, you’re a therapist? tells me about their family member who really needs to see a therapist
Oh you're a nurse, can you have a look at my ingrowing toenail / tell me why I have a rash down below
"Oh, you're an electrical engineer? Can you wire my garage?"