“So what is it that you do?” Merciful God, but I hate hearing those insipid words! I don’t know why it irritates me so much, but it’s as if my job alone contains the quintessence of who I am. My profession may be an important aspect of the whole, but in the same way that a cut stone is not made up of a single facet, my job does not define me. Every time someone fires that idiotic question at me, I am sorely tempted to answer along the lines of, “Pimp. And what the fuck has that got to do with you anyway?” At least then, I wouldn’t have to endure the annoying knowing look when I give my usual (polite) response. Don’t nod at me, rectum features! I have slain dragons! I have swayed the seething masses with my eloquence! I have impregnated sighing maidens! I have flirted with death and returned, dammit! You may think you have me pegged, but you don’t!
At school, I discovered that I had an aptitude for mathematics and the practical applications thereof, but it was never something that I was particularly passionate about. While I found myself drawn to the Arts, I never had the courage to pursue a career in theatre or literature. Instead, I decided to follow a ‘safe’ path and I became a Civil Engineer. When you open a tap and fresh water gushes out, or when you flush the toilet and last night’s chilli vanishes into the bowels of the earth, someone like me was responsible for ensuring that the two systems don’t get confused with one another. In a world without Civil Engineers, you would turn on the tap and last night’s chilli… never mind. Suffice it to say that I fulfil a useful function in society. A useful, practical, mind-numbingly dull function.
The thing is – every so often – I am filled with self-loathing at my weakness of character, because I took the road often travelled. The fact that I have a job, rather than a vocation, makes me feel like a bit of a sell-out. The odds are pretty good that I would have ended up penniless and starving if I had followed ‘my dream’, so it isn’t something that bothers me much, except when someone asks me, “So what is it that you do?”