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Thứ Tư, 26 tháng 9, 2012

1. A few days ago, I ran into a neighbour and she asked me "where are you working at?", I honestly answered "Im not working anywhere, Im staying home". I could clearly tell she was taken back for a few moments, not knowing how to reply. She might even interpret my answer as I didn't want to continue the conversation, because it is quite inconceivable for her to hear that someone who studied abroad doesn't have a job, and even more puzzling because I didn't make an effort to conceal that shameful fact.

One time, when my grandmother's brother visited my family and asked me "where are you working at?", I told him "Oh, Im just working here and there", because really I was working for a few places, yet they were all part-time or temporary positions, I didn't have a permanent contract with anyone. He was offended and I got a lengthy and angry lecture from my aunt for not attempting to make the answer sound nicer. "You could have said a full sentence, like I don't have a contract because I am a recent graduate yet but I am trying and they are considering me blah blah blah". She went on and on about how, to be polite, at least I should show that I was trying something else rather than "just working here and there". Her point didn't quite come across, because I didn't really understand why I should show that I was embarrassed by the fact that I wasn't working full time anywhere, while in fact I felt neither shame nor embarrassment.

2. In a gathering where most people didn't know each other, as a rule of thumb, everyone started by introducing where they work. Having no name to say, when it was my turn, I could feel the peer pressure getting more and more intense as people waited for me to tell them which place I dedicate one-third of my days to. Finally, when I finished my introduction without touching on the phrase "I am working at", one person couldn't hold his breath and cried out "but where are you working at?", I (again) honestly said "nowhere, Im waiting for application results". Quiet. No one knew what to say. I guess they felt awkward because I was different, sorry for me because I didn't have a job, and confused because they didn't know where to place me. Lacking a crucial indicator to let people know what I do for a living, what I spend my time on, what I know/have experience about, it is painfully hard for them to initiate a conversation, and they either stuck to what I introduced as my last job, or asking about my future/potential job. Outside the work context, it's just too difficult to find things to talk about.

3. The first thing a friend who hasn't seen me for a while asked is "where are you working at now?". Even though it is understandable, because I have changed jobs way too often for them to keep track of, many times I caught myself wonder why they just can't ask about something else. When I asked, my friends would say "because I want to know if you are happy at your job or not". But really, can't I be happy at something else besides a job? How about hobbies, interest, relationships and dreams? The other topics may be a bit intimate, probably, not everyone can share with anyone their dreams and relationships, but not  framing my happiness within a job is enough to open up the conversation to many other directions.

So if you see me next time, let me ask you about your interest and your life. If you have a burning passion for your job, which I also love to have, we can talk about that, of course. But if not, let us treat each other like two human beings, not just two workers.

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