Thursday, February 6, 2014

"What Do You Do?" and Other Things Washingtonians Say

There's a feature in my newspaper's Sunday magazine called, "Date Lab." Would-be daters fill out a questionnaire and the editors send them on blind dates. Then they write about it, and I get to read it.

Without fail, every week the daters whine about how "What do you do?" is such a D.C. question. And without fail, every week I want to scream, "NO! It's not a D.C. question! It's a totally normal question everywhere in the country!" I won't argue that what you do is the only important thing worth asking. I'm the first to admit that my paying job is a very small part of my identity. But you have to admit that it tells people something about you, right? Me being a statistician tells you at a minimum that I like numbers and/or math, right? Yes, there is more to me (my family, my interests, etc.), but it is still part of me. So I argued that this question is definitely not D.C.

Apparently I'm wrong. (Shocking, I know.) Apparently in other parts of the country they ask things like, "What church do you go to?" (in the South) or "At what elevation do you live?" (in Colorado). But because I live here now, feel free to ask me what I do. I won't get mad. AND I promise to not ask you that question. Instead I'll open with, "So tell me about your favorite cereal and why?"


  1. I would argue that, "What do you do?" isn't even about where you work. You can answer that any way you please - student, homemaker, radiologist, etc. And yes, they ask it everywhere. "What do you do for the government?" would be a DC question.

  2. Interesting. I would think that's a normal question to ask anyone, anywhere. What elevation do you live at - that's silly!

  3. I totally agree. Everyone wants to know "what you do"!!

  4. Lucky Charms…..they are simply delicious!

    Agreed… is an important "telling" piece of information.