How Long Can You Go Before Asking the Boring Work Question?

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Social Experiment time!

Let's talk about flirting. Specifically, let's talk about flirting in perhaps the worst city there is for flirting: San Francisco. I'm declaring it now. The people of San Francisco do not know how to flirt. Trust me, I'm one of them and I'm right up there with the worst.

There are two questions San Franciscans ask within minutes of meeting someone new: "What do you do?" and "Where do you live?" (The answer to the latter, immediately elicits judgment and basically tells you if it's even worth continuing the conversation. That's how accepting us liberal, tolerant NorCal peeps can be: "You want to identify as LGBTQ or any other letter for that matter, cool! We'll walk in that parade. But if you live in a neighborhood I don't like, I'm passing judgments that will take our entire relationship to undo.")

But I digress. I've become increasingly frustrated with this line of questioning and I think it's time we come up with more interesting modes of small chat. I understand the ease of these questions: it doesn't put the subject on the spot and you learn something about him.

Or do you? Let's focus on the first question. For one, I don't care how much you love your job, chances are if you're at happy hour, and meet someone at the bar, the last thing you want to do is talk about work, much less explain it to someone who doesn't understand what the hell an Online Community Manager is. And when you first meet someone, do you really care what their job is? No, you probably want to know if this person is fun, if he has a sense of humor, if he's a good kisser, or what he looks like without his shirt on. The only thing more boring than your own job is someone else's. And yet, we feign interest. "Oh you work as insurance underwriter? A consultant? A software developer? How fascinating!"

Congratulations, you've started this potential relationship out on a lie.

Now I'm not saying you should date someone and not take an interest in his career, much less not know what it is. That would be weird. But must it be the first question we ask? I'm calling for a moratorium on the work-related chit-chat and because I plan to be the change I wish to see in the world (I know—I'm right up there with Gandhi), I'm going to see how long I can go without asking the "What do you do" question. I'm thinking, like, this weekend. It will be a social experiment! And it might make me a mute social leper, but that's a risk I'm willing to take. It's the risk we must all take to see lasting change.

So to prepare, I've brainstormed alternative questions that hopefully will suffice for small chat.

If you were a food what would you be?
Are you a mountain person or beach person?
Coke or pepsi?
Chuck, F*ck, Marry: Kim, Kourtney, and Chloe Kardashian?
Or really any three celebrities.
If you were on a desert island and were forced to listen to five bands for the rest of your life, what would they be?
If you were on a desert island and allowed to eat one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be?

If you could book a flight anywhere right now, where would you go?
Truth or Dare?

Sure, this might be reminiscent of middle school slumber parties, but remember the conversational acrobatics that kept you awake and giggling until the wee hours of the morning during sleepovers? We can't get back to that if we're using stock markets and fiscal years and reports and deadlines as conversational crutches. This is a bar, not a boardroom, so can we start acting like it, please?

Do you have other questions to ask? Perhaps so I don't have to rely so heavily on the desert island construction? Tell me! I'll use them and report back!



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