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Lesson Transcript

Small Talk
When people ask me what I do, it always throws me.
I know the question is coming; it is, after all, standard small talk; but I never seem to be prepared for it.
It's like asking me what I am, and that is, by no means, a small subject.
Right now, what I do and what I am are Mommy.
When I tell people that I am a stay-at-home-mom, most nod and say, "Oh, uh-huh," and then look frantically around the room for an easy way out.
I think that they assume I am about to launch into a detailed, scrapbook-aided description of my daughter and our days together.
The thing is, I know that most people are not interested in those details.
They wanted a simple answer like "I work in IT" or "I'm a teacher."
Not that either of those answers are simple. It's just that they are easy to understand and easy to dismiss.
But when what I did, and what I was were teach, I would occasionally get the follow-up small-talk question.
"Oh, what do you teach?"
When they heard "English," there was usually a nervous chuckle and one of the following, "Oh, I guess I better watch my grammar around you, huh?"
or my personal favorite "I hated English in high school, no offense."
Now why would I take offense? I didn't teach them.
It seems ridiculous to me that people treat what you do and what you are as fodder for small talk.
Why not ask about my earrings or my favorite sitcom?
These are subjects that I have no real emotional attachment to.
If the person who has just engaged me in conversation gets bored and looks away, I will not be offended.
After all, I do not attach my personal worth to my love of "CSI."