Sonia Said: WHAT DO YOU DO?
Sweet Jesus help me for if I hear that question again I will sin. You know, the London ice-breaker which really does not do much in terms of breaking an ice but a lot in drying up my vagina. And I don't know if it's a need to categorise someone quickly, make them more figured out or feel safe but I've just been a bit sick of it.
Saturday night, you're out drinking, having fun and forgetting everything for just a few hours before needing to get back to the hungover reality of preparing mentally for Monday, or any day, depending on when you have time off. The funny thing is I used to not think about it at all because I'd do what everyone else in my situation does: I LIED. Well, not lied. When you say "what do you do" you don't specify whether you mean what that person does for money or what they do all day or what they do for a hobby. All of us do it. Artists scrubbing tables (hello) do it because they want everyone to know that they're so much more than that. People in boring office jobs do it because they don't want to be defined by what pays their rent. They want to seem more interested, they have passions they abandoned you see, but they still do it. There come all the buts.
I usually said, "well I'm a writer and a journalist BUT I waitress in the evenings for some extra cash". I've heard "I tour with emerging musicians, kind of like their manager BUT I do a bit of admin ON THE SIDE." I mean, what the hell is this? Why are we so scared of saying what we actually, really do for money, as if we had this big status that we could lose or something. So last weekend when my successful friend visited me in London, I stopped lying. I was in a place where I didn't like anyone and didn't care so I just said it for what it was.
"If I listened to every person telling me what I could do with my education and skills, I'd be in the bottom of my own grave, exhausted from a never-ending chase after that stupid desk and a bigger salary at the end of each month"
"I'm a waitress," I said to the first guy. A big Egyptian fellow in a serious suit who just finished questioning my friend. He looks at me, surprised while she explained my situation for me. Blessed friends of mine, always do it. She's not a waitress, she's got Masters, a book and this and that. From there he went on telling me of things I could be doing. Did you know that creative people are a good fit for HR jobs? Apparently, we're so sensitive and human, we do well in those areas. I mean, for the love of God, if I listened to every person telling me what I could do with my education and skills, I'd be in the bottom of my own grave, exhausted from a never-ending chase after that stupid desk and a bigger salary at the end of each month. After I walked away and the friend caught up with me, she was furious, swearing like only a proper Polish lady can of how dare he, who is he, what does he think.
A moment after that, a Spanish boy said he was working in marketing. Only when I said my "waitress", he suddenly changed his mind, his eyes expressing nothing but relief, blurting out "I work in hospitality, actually, but interning in marketing for free, I'm hoping to get into that." So happy that he found someone on his level, confident now to talk and laugh and smoke.
I know that's something that will never change and people in this situation are doomed to enter dinner tables terrified possibly like Bridget Jones on a dinner party, the only singleton present. But now that society is coming to terms with people delaying marriages just for the sake of it, what are we without a solid career to back this up when the questions pop out, "so what do you do?" "Who are you?" And my answer is, just sing: "I'm a bitch, I'm a lover, I'm a child, I'm a mother, I'm a sinner, I'm a saint" and I do not care.