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I always wonder why one would have a problem stating what they do/did for a living. Unless it were illegal like assassin or drug dealer....is there any legitimate profession that can't/shouldn't be talked about in polite company? My interest is real - I'm not trying to be snarky.

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I always wonder why one would have a problem stating what they do/did for a living. Unless it were illegal like assassin or drug dealer....is there any legitimate profession that can't/shouldn't be talked about in polite company? My interest is real - I'm not trying to be snarky.

 

Politician? You did say "polite company".

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I always wonder why one would have a problem stating what they do/did for a living. Unless it were illegal like assassin or drug dealer....is there any legitimate profession that can't/shouldn't be talked about in polite company? My interest is real - I'm not trying to be snarky.

 

It’s old school etiquette, mainly from a time that it was considered an intrusive and personal question. My understanding is that the roots of that social norm are from the time that there were clear cut class levels in pre industrial revolution England. If you were the right class, you did not “work for a living” so the question was a baited trap. Over time that view became antiquated and redundant, but somehow that idea that it was rude to ask a person what they do for a living remained. Really, it’s just a nice ice breaker. I think that constraint needs to go.

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I always wonder why one would have a problem stating what they do/did for a living. Unless it were illegal like assassin or drug dealer....is there any legitimate profession that can't/shouldn't be talked about in polite company? My interest is real - I'm not trying to be snarky.

 

I know someone who works for the Internal Revenue Service. While on vacation, they do not want to hear about people's tax complaints/concerns. They always just say they work for the US government. If questioned on which US government agency, they state that they work for the Department of Treasury.

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I know someone who works for the Internal Revenue Service. While on vacation, they do not want to hear about people's tax complaints/concerns. They always just say they work for the US government. If questioned on which US government agency, they state that they work for the Department of Treasury.

Good example. Of course, there the real problem is that the tablemates take advantage of having an IRS agent to complain to, not that being an IRS agent is something to be hidden.

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Politician? You did say "polite company".

Of course, there are lots more good politicians than bad ones, especially when one looks at the local level where people are trying to make things better in their own commumities for little pay or recognition.

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It’s old school etiquette, mainly from a time that it was considered an intrusive and personal question. My understanding is that the roots of that social norm are from the time that there were clear cut class levels in pre industrial revolution England. If you were the right class, you did not “work for a living” so the question was a baited trap. Over time that view became antiquated and redundant, but somehow that idea that it was rude to ask a person what they do for a living remained. Really, it’s just a nice ice breaker. I think that constraint needs to go.

 

I guess I had never thought of that, but it makes sense. It IS a personal question, just as almost any question is. I personally never thought it was an intrusive question, but I never lived in pre industrial revolution England, and doubt I've met anybody that has! Thanks for the info on why people might not care to share that they worked. ☺

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'before I went to prison , or after I got out?'

Lots of people go to prison, and most get out. 😁 And some of those cruise! However, I can honestly say that past prison sentences has never come up at shared tables!

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I guess I had never thought of that, but it makes sense. It IS a personal question, just as almost any question is. I personally never thought it was an intrusive question, but I never lived in pre industrial revolution England, and doubt I've met anybody that has! Thanks for the info on why people might not care to share that they worked. ☺

 

 

 

Really, it’s an outdated way of thinking; it just persisted well past 19th century customs shelf lives. It’s a great ice breaker question to ask. By asking that question, or being in a group in which it was asked, we’ve met a retired postal worker, an executive from China sent to the US for English language immersion, several teachers, an landscaper who was really cool to talk to, a diplomat from Egypt (we met him and his wife and son in a hot tub on a Carnival cruise), and a woman who owned a small floral shop, among others. Kind of one of many things I like about cruising; the opportunity to mingle. But then I’m pretty extroverted.

 

 

Sent from my iPad using Forums

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so, when you bring up the topic - do you start by stating your name(s) and what you do for a living before asking others? and their is a purpose for that shaker of salt...

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My general way: "Hi, I'm Julie and this is my husband Bob." Then the others usually offer up their names, and it usually continues until all have introduced themselves. Then someone might ask "Where are you folks from?", etc. The offering of information doesn't initially occur without the questions being asked. I'm not really sure what the comment is about the salt shaker......

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I always wonder why one would have a problem stating what they do/did for a living. Unless it were illegal like assassin or drug dealer....is there any legitimate profession that can't/shouldn't be talked about in polite company? My interest is real - I'm not trying to be snarky.

 

I go on vacation to see the sites, scenery and learn about the culture where I am going.

 

I also go on vacation to get away from my job which, although I love it, can be stressful.

 

I do not want to spend my mealtime talking about my job. For this reason I choose not to state what I do for a living/talk about my job. Also for this reason I choose a table for 2.

 

This is the great thing about vacation/cruising we get to choose and there is a table for all choices.

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My general way: "Hi, I'm Julie and this is my husband Bob." Then the others usually offer up their names, and it usually continues until all have introduced themselves. Then someone might ask "Where are you folks from?", etc. The offering of information doesn't initially occur without the questions being asked. I'm not really sure what the comment is about the salt shaker......

 

 

 

Yeah...typically the info is shared from chitchat. Not even sure I’ve ever actually asked. But I’ve met people with interesting jobs and lives.

 

 

Sent from my iPad using Forums

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Our last cruise in September was on the MSC Divina. We met 2 lovely ladies from Florida at the Cruise Critic "Meet & Mingle" gathering on our second day. They invited us to join them for dinner for the remainder of the cruise. My wife & I were traveling alone and were assigned a table for 2. So, we happily joined these 2 ladies and also met another couple from the Eastern US who were sharing their table. We all got along great and had a wonderful time with them.

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And DO you work for the CIA as an assassin?

 

Maybe that's one of those if I told you, I'd have to disappear you kind of questions:D

 

We were joined by a couple one cruise at a 4 top who after the introductions asked us where we were from. When answered his response was "How interesting, please tell us about your city"

 

I thought it a great opener and have used it since.

 

I've never thought the "what do you do for a living" question rude, just simply people trying to begin a conversation.

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Lots of folks can't or don't want to talk about work: most folks in high level leadership, moderately high ranking military folks, police, probably a lot of lawyers, anyone in the medical profession...I could go on. Oddly enough, when I worked in manufacturing and bought parts for a living, everyone told me that sounded cool, to which I'd tell them it really isn't. Now when I tell them I'm a police officer, I get a dear in the headlights look most of the time and the conversation stops. But yeah, folks love to ask legal questions.

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Lots of folks can't or don't want to talk about work: most folks in high level leadership, moderately high ranking military folks, police, probably a lot of lawyers, anyone in the medical profession...I could go on. Oddly enough, when I worked in manufacturing and bought parts for a living, everyone told me that sounded cool, to which I'd tell them it really isn't. Now when I tell them I'm a police officer, I get a dear in the headlights look most of the time and the conversation stops. But yeah, folks love to ask legal questions.

It's the opposite for doctors, nurses, dentists. The conversation doesn't stop, it starts up........everyone's medical history laid out on the dining table.

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I always wonder why one would have a problem stating what they do/did for a living. Unless it were illegal like assassin or drug dealer....is there any legitimate profession that can't/shouldn't be talked about in polite company? My interest is real - I'm not trying to be snarky.

 

Such questions can be used to assign social status, consciously or otherwise.

 

There are professions that are controversial or regarded as distasteful in certain quarters. Family planning practitioners, sanitation engineers, evangelical preachers, lawyers, certain government employees, etc, etc.

 

As far as I'm concerned if someone brings up their employment in conversation, then it is fair game for me to discuss it and then in return for them to ask me about my employment. However if I don't evince interest, I expect others to return the favour.

 

Employment is a private matter and I choose not to share such private matters with strangers any more than I would share my home address or my income. I don't go on a holiday to discuss my work.

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Such questions can be used to assign social status, consciously or otherwise.

 

There are professions that are controversial or regarded as distasteful in certain quarters. Family planning practitioners, sanitation engineers, evangelical preachers, lawyers, certain government employees, etc, etc.

 

As far as I'm concerned if someone brings up their employment in conversation, then it is fair game for me to discuss it and then in return for them to ask me about my employment. However if I don't evince interest, I expect others to return the favour.

 

Employment is a private matter and I choose not to share such private matters with strangers any more than I would share my home address or my income. I don't go on a holiday to discuss my work.

We always say we worked for the government and are happy to be retired. Then we discuss home renovation, downsizing, travel, family......

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I always answer the 'what did you do' question with the generic answer, retired engineer. It really was not that exciting. Most who ask the question are just trying to get a conversation going.

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Once in ATD we sat at a table of 8 where 4 of our fellow diners were from Texas but before I could worry about the talk veering into dangerous waters (see disclaimer below :)) , someone announced that they were bull farmers aka bull breeders. Conversation came to a full stop for about 10 seconds. To them it wasn't unusual, it was just their job. Being a city dweller my whole life, it was unusual LOL. But I must say it was one of our more interesting tables. Oh, and the disclaimer...I am not saying anything bad about Texans, they are delightful people and we have had many memorable dinners with Texans. But once, and isn't there always that once, we had a horrible head butting dinner with a stubbornly rude older Texan lady and we left the table before we finished our entrée.

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