At Cracked.Com, one of their best new humor articles this past week was John Cheese’s The 6 Stupidest Things We Use to Judge People We Don’t Know.
The first item immediately struck a chord with me:
#6. Where You Work
Regular readers know that I used to work at a truck wash for big tractor/trailers. In 15 years of employment there, there wasn’t a single day when I was proud to tell someone what I did for a living. In fact, if I was meeting a stranger for the first time and I knew that there was no chance of us ever seeing each other again, I’d flat out lie. “Oh, you’re a lawyer? That’s awesome. I build nuclear warheads with my penis.”
I did it because I knew the reaction my job produced wasn’t one of interest. It was one of sympathy. “Well, hey, at least you have a job, right? Not many people can say that in this economy.” As if I needed the reassurance of a stranger to justify my occupation.
But that one is not in a “respectable” job — perhaps they make just over minimum wage — is only one way people are judged for their employer.
Ever since moving to Los Angeles in spring of 2010 I’ve started being much more vague when most people ask what I do for a living. (We’re 15 minutes from Hollywood — bluest part of the country imaginable. “Editor for conservative new media publication” in LA is a bit like being a bacon donut and pornography salesman in Mecca.)
I’m not ashamed of what I do and more than capable of defending myself should a debate ensue, but if it’s a social gathering do I really want to attract the attention or make people feel uncomfortable? I’m more than happy to reveal to people the ideological origins of our President (which is what these discussions usually devolve into) but is a casual get-together really the place? And besides — do the sane, polite people in the room really want to hear about politics? It’s a social event — the point is to relax and escape the world’s troubles, not wallow in how divided our country can be.
So usually if we’re at a party or the subject comes up in casual conversation with a neighbor or random stranger I’ll just say I’m a writer and an editor (not even specify new media) and count on them not being inquisitive enough to dig further. (And it’s LA so this is a safe bet.)
Has anybody else had any versions of this problem? That assumptions and prejudice about your job necessitate some social obfuscation?
(And btw, check out Brent Smith’s ode to bacon at his blog Random Dude Eats Random Food — the source of that terrifyingly beautiful image of the bacon donuts.)