The Mystique of Work

I’m not thinking of the exotic here.

I count writers, musicians, and artists among my friends, and what they do is work, but what interests me are those out of the spotlight — stage designers and managers, roadies, or the folks who work in frame shops. People who work in offices. There’s no end to the work that gets done in offices!

Yes, there’s a lot of grappling over how we as people over-identify with what we do, but that’s not what this is.

I’m thinking about how little we understand what the people in our lives do with themselves in their workaday world.

At gatherings we chat with our friends about the kids, the books we’re reading (The Language of Dying by Sarah Pinborough), must-see TV (“Elementary“), and work is only mentioned with the vaguest flap of our hands.

hector-labordeBut I’m fascinated by what my friends do for work. No one wants to talk about it after-hours, however. The most I get is generally a job title, which I forget seconds after I hear it because I have no framework for understanding their words, and a quick description, which, again, words.

My husband will ask me what a new acquaintance does, and I’ll shrug, “Something for sure. More than that, I can’t say.”

This is one of the reasons I like LinkedIn, which I resisted joining for ages. Facebook is a dinner party where you can listen in on conversations, give hugs, click on a link & disappear, and then return for dessert.

On LinkedIn, you get a real idea of how your friends spend their days. How they’d describe their professional lives to others in their field. Get a feel for who their colleagues are and how they connect. I love it!

Imagine: Take Your Friend to Work Day. Pick the friend whose field intrigues you the most, and then shadow her for a day, or even contribute! Y’know, depending on whether that sort of thing is welcomed, or not. Probably you wouldn’t be allowed to assist in phlebotomy, for instance.

The possibilities, though! Think of the friend that always seems to be traveling for work. Or maybe the one that works funky hours. We’d learn and understand so much about each other if we had the opportunity to spend a day in each other’s professional shoes.

In the meantime, don’t be surprised if I ask you more questions about your days. And then ask again when you wave them away with, “Oh, you know, work.”

No, I don’t know — tell me. Really.



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