We Have To Change The Questions

The other day I got to thinking (dangerous).

I had just returned from a function where I was introduced to many new people.

The standard rules of etiquette applied: Smile, Shake hands, inquire as to…

“What do you do?”

As much as I accept the reality that this is a way to get to know someone, it’s mostly a way to size someone up.

What if I had said, “Garbage collection”?

Or, “Pole Dancer”?

Maybe, “Nothing. I don’t have a job.”

What then?

What about women who are home raising their children? Should they say “Nothing” or should they say “I’m a stay-at-home Mom.” (Like that’s the only kind?).

What if you are a Mom but you exit the house to go to a place of employment? Should you answer that question by stating where you receive a pay check? Or should you say that you work all over the God damn place? (Because you do).

What if you’re a woman in MidLife that’s no longer ’employed’? What if you’re retired?

Do you answer, “I’m a retired blahblahblah…”?

What if you do whatever the hell you want to do?

And as long as we’re on the subject, here is a list of other ‘questions’ and ‘responses’ we need to change-up:

  • “How long have you been married?” Answer: “What’s the number you would be most impressed with?”

  • “Do you have children?” Answer:”Yes. And they’re all monsters.

  • “What’s it like living in New Orleans?” Answer: “Great. We’re drunk all the time.”

  • “Where are you from?” Answer: “I’m not sure.”

  • “Where did you go to school?” Answer: “What grade?”

  • “How did you and your husband meet?” Answer: “He picked me up in a bar. I don’t remember much past that.”

  • “Are your children still at home?” Answer: “Hell no. We kicked the little bastards out long ago.”

  • “Are your parents still alive?” Answer: “Were they ever?”

  • “Do you have any hobbies?” Answer: “Not a one.”


So maybe the next time I’m asked, “What do you do?” I’ll just answer…

“Whatever the hell I want to do.”

Yes- I think that’s it.


Thanks for asking.



  • Quirky Chrissy - OMG. YES.

    I hate it when people ask me that. The other day I was in the grocery store and ran into one of my parents’ friends. “So what are you doing now?” Well, I do yoga. I eat food. I drink beer. I go to work at a job I hate where I’m a corporate monkey and losing a little bit of my soul each day. I have no kids, pets or husband, but I watch a lot of TV with my boyfriend. I’m trying to get my writing published somewhere other than my personal blog (which does make me some money, but definitely not enough to pay my salary). I play board games…

    “Do you still live in this town?” No. That was two residences ago. I just bought a house with the boyfriend that I watch a lot of TV with. It’s messy, but it’s ours.

    But they didn’t care about any of that. So I just said, “I work for X company downtown. And we live in X town now.”


    • Cheryl - Right? Right! For the love of God don’t ask such broad (or narrow) questions. How about “Nice to see you. How are your parents?” Simple. Direct. Relevant.ReplyCancel

  • Tammy - Which job would you like to hear about? The one where I run a household of mass confusion and constant chaos, or the one where I scratch out a living talking to people and telling them how to run their lives amidst mass confusion and constant chaos? Conversation over. Always fun, Cheryl!ReplyCancel

    • Cheryl - What is someone like me, who doesn’t make a ‘living’ anymore because I already made a boatload, say? I’ll tell you what- I do whatever the hell I want because I’m already rich and famous (well, maybe not famous). Ha!ReplyCancel

  • Dee - I like to ask “what does someone pay you to do?” followed up with “what would you rather be doing?” It usually catches folks by surprise but clearly illustrates my opinion that what you are paid to do is usually not what you’d prefer to do. Which leads me to this question “What makes it a job? The work or the pay?” That one always trips people up….I still haven’t gotten a clear cut response.ReplyCancel

    • Cheryl - That’s B-R-I-L-L-I-A-N-T. Of course. Why didn’t I think of that? I’m going to use it my friend. Like always, you clarify ‘things’ for me. XXXOOOReplyCancel

  • Jackie - OMG, I HATE, HATE, HATE THIS QUESTION. Because my answer always has to be, “I’m a bartender/waitress/indentured servant…” LOL! It’s annoying. I also find myself qualifying it with “and I do some writing on the side”, which is ridiculous and makes me feel ten times worse. As difficult as this question is to field from strangers — especially the ones who, upon hearing it, get that “look”, the one that says, ‘Okay, then, you’re not worth my time unless you have a drink in your hand or a tray of pass arounds’ — it is horrible when friends and/or family respond with, “Oh, you’re still doing THAT?” Yes. I am. Because we’ve grown fond of shelter and food. Ugh!ReplyCancel

    • Cheryl - People are assholes (YOU and I excluded, of course). What ever you ‘do’ I’m SURE you;re fabulous at it. Carry On.ReplyCancel

  • Kathleen O'Donnell - Hilarious! I’ve always hated those questions…yet I’m sure I’ve asked them myself. My other fave is “Where did you go to college?” I didn’t, I got knocked up instead is my fave answer. My second was…because my two kids are complete opposites look wise I used to get asked “Do they have the same father?” Well…I met them in the same bar, does that count?

    People can be so fucking clueless. Yet, they give us plenty to write about!ReplyCancel

    • Cheryl - Yes. God love the Idiots. Hugs and kisses my friend. XXOOReplyCancel

  • Sue - Nice to see so many others hate to answer these questions too. Currently I am the CEO of shoveling snow and protecting little dog from starving predators.ReplyCancel

    • Cheryl - Which is a WORLD CLASS responsibility, of which, I am SURE you are a Master- like all things Housekaboodle. XXXOOOReplyCancel

  • Cary Vaughn - And I would love to be there when you respond to those questions.
    I agree with all this so hard.ReplyCancel

    • Cheryl - Cary, I think you would find me entertaining under almost all social circumstances. I suffer no fools. Love ya my friend. So happy to see you here. XXOOReplyCancel

  • Doreen McGettigan - Que card questions are the worst. I do have several elevator speach type responses just in case I get asked these ridiculous questions.ReplyCancel

    • Cheryl - Pray tell…….Inquiring minds want to know Doreen. I’m sure you’ve got a few zingers up your sleeve. HA!ReplyCancel

  • Ruth Curran - Oh, you gave me the most wonderful idea! I am, from now on, when asked what I do going to say pole dancer! How funny will that be??? I love that you want to change the question — so absolutely perfect!ReplyCancel

    • Cheryl - Pole dancers are very important. Without them there would be no poles. XXOOReplyCancel

  • Carol Cassara - Here’s a better question: “So, tell me about yourself.”ReplyCancel

  • William Martin - My personal favorite: “So, are you from around here?” No, but the mother-ship left without me. But make sure you can snort-laugh right after saying it.ReplyCancel

    • Cheryl - I, actually, hesitate a few seconds, to let it ‘sink-in’, then a wink. HA!ReplyCancel

  • Kathy Gottberg - Yes…isn’t that the craziest question? I’ve heard that other people in other countries think it is crazy that we in the U.S. boil everything down to what is your productivity level and basically, how much do you make? Better questions are: what are you passionate about? What are you “nexting”? What have you done for other lately?ReplyCancel

  • Barbara Hammond - I like your ‘Whatever the hell I want to do’ response. I can use that now. 😉

  • Roshni AaMom - Best answer possible!!! Seriously, some of the questions people ask are just inane and awkward!! You hit the nail on the head again, Cheryl! 🙂ReplyCancel

  • Ruchira Khanna - I agree with you, Cheryl.
    Such questions are so lame, and honestly I have also asked them to people since can’t think of any questions to initiate a topic of discussion..lol

    Lately, I blame the environment by saying, “Phew! what a weather change. No rain”
    Then that starts the conversation going successfully. Phew! thanks to the mother nature…ReplyCancel

  • Cathy Chester - The questions are inane so I’m glad you wrote a post about it. Leave it to you, my dear, to write a wonderful one. Funny and smart as ever! xoReplyCancel

  • Tam Warner Minton - Funny…whatever the hell I want to do! Basically, that is the truth…but not all of it. I wish I could do whatever I wanted whenever I wanted to.ReplyCancel

  • Carolann - I literally cracked up reading this lol. You are sooooo right on about the entire thing! I can’t tell you how much I adored those questions – priceless LOLReplyCancel

    • Cheryl - I picked-up a phone call the other day, and answered “This is Cheryl.” The person on the other end asked, “Is this Cheryl?”, which makes me think I need to take this whole topic to another level.ReplyCancel

  • Darcy Perdu (So Then Stories) - HA! Love this! My favorite is: “How did you and your husband meet?” Answer: “He picked me up in a bar. I don’t remember much past that.”

    The other day, I met someone and instead of asking “What do you do?” – they asked me, “What are you passionate about?”

    I thought that was awesome! It actually made me think!ReplyCancel

    • Cheryl - Thanks Darcy. High praise indeed! Ya know, I think that’s just a bit too personal. The ‘passionate’ question. It’s like asking someone ‘Are you regular?’ or ‘How long does it take you to reach orgasm?’ or ‘Do you floss?’- which is the most personal of all. HA!ReplyCancel

  • Lois Alter Mark - That’s the perfect answer! My husband recently retired and has no idea what to answer when people ask him that, even though he’s busier than ever!ReplyCancel

  • Diane Tolley - Why can’t I think of things like this? Especially in the moment?! Oh, I have to make a copy of this! So I’m . . . ummm . . . prepared . . .ReplyCancel

  • Risa Nye - Try this answer: about what?ReplyCancel

  • Gary Sidley - Maybe when asked, ‘What do you do?’ we could respond, ‘Make a nuisance of myself’ – but, then again, it risks sounding like a bit of a smart arse. ‘How is it hanging?’ can be a fruitful opener when asked of males – although I do recall, years ago, being rendered speechless when my 7-year-old daughter asked me this question!ReplyCancel

    • Cheryl - Hahaaaaa. I wonder where your daughter gets her ‘smart arse’ from? Love your book btw!ReplyCancel

  • Joy Page Manuel - Bravo! It’s about time someone wrote about this! How about we say, “I live”? Let’s see how others would respond to that! :-)) Thanks so much for this! Sharing away xoxoReplyCancel

  • Vashti Quiroz-Vega - Hi Cheryl! Ha, ha, ha! How about asking a young married couple, “When are you going to have children?” What if the couple doesn’t want children and agreed not to have any? Not everyone has to be a parent. The worse one is, “What do you do?” I have a good job and I am proud of what I do, but this question still rubs me the wrong way. Like you said, most people ask this in order to size you up.ReplyCancel

    • Cheryl - Oh yes- I forgot the ‘children’ question: “How many children do you have?” Like you automatically MUST have children! Let’s come up with some NEW ways to get to know someone for the Love of God. Nice to see you Vashti. ALways a pleasure. XXOOReplyCancel

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