“So. What do you do?”

The worst part about being unemployed is not dealing with the daily pangs of self-loathing and regret. It’s having to explain to other people why someone as fabulous as you is incapable of getting hired.

Monday night was the break-fast after Yom Kippur – the day of atonement (and starving).  It was also the night I met my boyfriend’s family for the first time.

Explaining what a freelance web producer does is a bit…wordy. As much as I would love to sound like a freeloading deadbeat to the people who raised my (employed) bf, I thought maybe it’d be best to come prepared with some answers. And so, I devised some fail-proof strategies.

1) Rely on the brand name.

“Oh I just graduated from Columbia in May and have been freelancing since. “

No older person will admit they have no idea what freelancing is. They will be too mesmerized by your Ivy League tassles to ask any follow-ups.

2) Lie about ambiguous future plans.

“I’m applying to law school. Man, those LSATs. Logic and derivatives…wild!”

Look overwhelmed, sigh, and they will believe you. This one might even be half-true. Because what struggling writer hasn’t toyed with the ludicrous idea of a stable job with benefits?

3) Pretend you are 15 and writing a fake letter to Oprah.

“I work for a non-profit. It’s insane – saving children’s lives on a daily basis. Those poor Ukranian refugees. You won’t believe how tough that can be on a person.”

Be sure to change the subject as soon as you’re done with your sob story. Your imagination will definitely fuck this up.

4) If all else fails, distract with an off-color joke.

“Well, the job market has been pretty tough, so I’ve been working as a prostitute on the side  some weekends. I’m really lucky to be paying rent.”

There will be a silence so long and so awkward that after everybody lets out a lilting laugh, no one will dare ask you what you do again. They will be too shell-shocked wondering if you were actually joking or not. And it’s not nice to ask how much you charge anyway.


4 thoughts on ““So. What do you do?”

  1. These are all very funny solutions, and I essentially use the prostitute one on a regular basis. When they ask what I am doing, I say “killing,” and then proceed to go into the intricacies of the murder business. If you talk about it for 5-10 minutes while subtly shifting the conversational burden to those around you, people will generally forget the original question, and will be glad to talk about themselves, because after all, that’s all they really wanted to do in the first place.

  2. Pingback: What to say to your high school teachers who had so much promise for you « Ivy Leagued and Unemployed

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