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In the US people always ask about what you do, you know for work...

I travel a lot, often staying in hostels to meet and ask people about their adventures. It seems that this kind of inquiry is US specific. Most people in the world want to know about your experiences, the person you are, your family before they ask about the job you to.

Why is that?

Akfishlady 8 Jan 18

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Or they want to talk about the weather......

As Tom Waits asked in a song: Why do strangers talk about the weather?

twill Level 7 Jan 23, 2018

@Akfishlady That song definitely made me self conscious! Now I tend to ask people: What's going on? Way better conversation than the weather

@Akfishlady A friend of mine who reads John Steinbeck suggested the "what's going on"?
So I started using it on a trip to Texas a few years back. Some various fisherman on Galveston Island were 1st actually. And sure enough.....they just started talking away at me.
Everyone was relaxed. Which led into more questions and answers. I've used it since . A great ice breaker, allows people to talk and answer a very open ended question. They can tell me what they are doing. What they are thinking. How they are feeling. I did not request that they speak of anything in particular
"Are you happy"....aww. My son when he was like 2 or 3 would always ask Mom & dad that


In Merica, we be free slaves, by the rockets red glare Baghdad it! We ain't having no fureign talk round here! FREEDUMB!

jeffy Level 7 Jan 18, 2018

In the US as people moved west and population was sparse, when a stranger showed up it was a natural inquiry, because people wanted to know what you could contribute to the community.


Cultures are different. In Europe people had no problem asking what you earned and other things we think are very personal. In Germany they were often very nosy. Germans relish their privacy but are always looking at what others are up to. Walk down a street and look up; you will often see a person looking down to see what is going on and if you do something they don't like they will call on you.

I was walking with my 4 year old daughter down a crowded street one day and carrying her on my shoulder. I got tired and put her down and said she should walk with me. She said no and stood her ground. I walked on but would stop and look to see what she was doing. Finally, she came running and took my hand. A German woman was watching and said to me "you are a terrible father"!


I have also noticed how others are shocked by how little America values family. To a foreigner, Americans love their families, and try to show it, but they take a backseat to bills, that is, here we tend to prioritize money; Not that I agree with it entirely, but my ex is Philippine, and those were her thoughts. Personally I think it’s a status check, making sure they are good enough. I feel ashamed telling people what I do for work because I know they are judging my entire worth on it.

I feel bad for anyone that believes money is the priority, but they take out their suffering on everyone else. My priorities right now are to reestablish a home for my son and myself, eventually become emotionally available after my hardest breakup, all while trying to do the right things even if it hurts. @Akfishlady


No idea. I deal with a lot of europeans and one question I get a lot is "where were you born?" That one always throws me. Why would you want to know that? Its not a secret but it just seems like an odd thing to ask. I used to wonder what made them ask it before I figured out that it was just pure chance and stopped wondering.

Sometimes a cultural oddity is just an odd thing, sometimes it has a deeper meaning. For the work question I am leaning towards oddity.


American persona is primarily about work: dr, lawyer, janitor, teacher, landscaper.... Americans want to pigenhole you so that they can act accordingly. You don’t treat a lawyer like you’d treat a barista.

Well, you may not but the vast majority of people do. @Akfishlady


Because in the U.S. people live to work. In other countries, people work to live.

Parvin's doctor son is married to a doctor. They are both staunch S. Baptists. She had 3 children (2 by cesarean - because it was easy. With the 3rd the doctors told her 2 cesarean's was the limit and it had to be natural. That was the end of more children). As soon as possible each child went into daycare. The son does most of the upbringing because he cares the most. Parvin had serious problems with that situation and told her son the future of his children was dim. He replied he knew but was setting his children up for a better future by providing ample financial grounds (college tuition, bank accounts etc.). As you alluded, it's all about work and money.


We are so materialistic here-someone's job gives an idea wha tyour income is,what your lifestyle might be, what your habitat looks like, where you may live.


Legacy of Puritanism: you're only as good as the quantifiable good you do for the community.

@Akfishlady remember, Puritanism: you couldn't possibly be doing anything worthwhile unless you're making a decent living. This attitude doesn't account for all of it--others have touched on the base materialism aspect and whatnot--but that's probably a big part of how the over all attitude got started.


I'm between jobs at the moment.

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