I never know how it’s going to go when complete strangers ask me what I do for a living. I told a guy on the train once that I was an editor and worked at a college tutoring writing and he asked me about the state of kids’ writing these days. And then he told me about how his daughter wrote angsty poetry. It was a good conversation.
Yesterday DP was telling a guy* about how I worked on a range of material from dissertations to craft books. He asked me how I edited dissertations, and I said “very carefully” and then he said that he always had trouble with grammar. We made small talk about it, but what I wanted to ask him was whether he read. If you read, your grammar gets better. But how do you ask that question without sounding like a pretentious asshole?
It’s all wrapped up in class and education. I never know how much to tell total strangers, how much they know, how to go about it without sounding either intimidating or condescending.
Ah well, I have it better than certain of my family members, who has to tell people that she’s a rabbi. Heh. How do you talk about what you do?
*A guy at a car dealership, you know a car salesman, who sold me a car. The Jetta is dead, long live the Golf!