For much of my thirties, I didn’t have a paid job, and so I rather dreaded the inevitable question at parties, ‘So what do you do for a living?’
As a result, when I meet someone for the first time, I’m more inclined to ask something which doesn’t make too many assumptions, such as, ‘So, what did you do last week?’
Mothers are the least predictable. Some choose the most mundane descriptions of their days, as the pickers-up of socks and toys, or as their kiddies’ taxi driver. Others expound the beauty, brilliance, creativity and sensitivity of their offspring − they’ve been busy nurturing the future movers and shapers of the world. Maybe it depends on how much sleep they’ve had recently.
I’m no different.
I wrote the lines below after listening to myself, on a Friday night, wearily moan that I was just an office drudge. By Sunday, after a two-day break from the computer, a good sermon and a bit of birding, I had a different perspective.
What do I do for a living?
I work in an office,
batting emails in and out, in and out, and field cold callers, who offer services we have already, thank you, or push their IT training, which we don’t need, or try to sell me advertising space, for which we have no budget. I edit copy, draft stories, deal with real queries, now and then, and shovel emails in and out, in and out.
I can see that you’re not listening.
I work in conservation.
My colleagues study peonies and elephants and snails, and find new creatures never named before by man: strange damselflies and katydids and frogs and bats and mice.
We save forests, grasslands, estuaries and swamps, show butterflies to city kids
who’ve never held a worm.
Now you say that I’m one of the good guys!
I’m the Editor
for a conservation charity that works around the world. I write stories and news bites
which I get from all our teams, choose photographs and maps and quotes, talk paper size and weights and fonts and plan the themes and big appeals, check spelling and grammar, and check again.
‘A writer! How fascinating!’
I’m doing what I was born for,
what each of us was born for. Remember the first commandment? To tend the garden and care for the earth and do it in God’s own image? But that’s a job for all of Adam’s children, too big a foul-up to be fixed by just a few.
Ah, now I’m getting a funny look…
So tell me, what do you do?
Maybe I could have more fun at social events if I asked new acquaintances, ‘So, what were you born for?’ I’m not sure that I’m brave enough, but if you’d have an answer ready, I’d love to hear what it is.