31 May 2021

Lots of Cool Things in One Post Like, What's a Start-up? And Asking People What They Do For a Living and Sunglasses and Walt Whitman

Yours truly wearing new shades, mentioned below.

“He’s working for a start-up.”

“What is it starting up?”

“What do you mean?”

“You said it was a start-up, but not what it's starting up.”

“I don’t know, for sure. I think it’s a non-profit.”

“So he’s got a new job at a new place that isn’t making money.”


“Cool beans.”

I’ve heard this one before. Someone you know of got a new job at a start-up. You’re not told what the person does nor what kind of enterprise is. I find this weird. Supposedly it’s enough to know that it’s a new business.

When I was working at a newspaper in the seventies I was at a gathering at which someone I barely knew and hadn’t seen in awhile asked what I was doing. I said working at a newspaper. He asked, “what outfit?”  That’s the last time I heard the word “outfit” used to describe a place of work. It was odd even then because the person who said it was about my age. The only people still saying “outfit” back then were older people.

Before my time people used to ask, “what line are you in?” This referred to your line of work. Don’t hear it anymore. In movies from the thirties people use the word “racket” which presumably means that people in “real life” used the term back then as well. Usually — at least in films — racket referenced something illegal or shady. But not always.

Of course asking people what they “do for a living” is a common question upon meeting them for the first time. It’s a natural conversation starter. But not in all societies. Some cultures consider it rude to ask a veritable stranger what kind of work they do.

When you do find out what someone does it’s only natural to use that information to start coloring some things in about the individual. A lot of people have lower opinions of those in certain professions. Some people don’t like lawyers, or cops or United States senators. Also, some jobs are more intriguing than others. Meeting an accountant and meeting an actor are two very different things. You generally don’t have a lot of follow-up questions for an accountant. (Maybe if it’s near April, you’ll say, “busy time for you, I guess.”) But you’re bound to ask an actor if they’re in movies, TV or theater. Based on what they say you could have a million more questions. Or not. Depends on what they’ve been in and your level of interest in acting.

As a teacher I always get: “what do you teach?”  When I was teaching middle school I occasionally got questions as to my sanity or was offered sympathy or lauded for my bravery. Inasmuch as I’ve got two novels out I’m going to henceforth say that I’m a writer. I’ll be asked, “what do you write?” Or in some cases, not. I’ll watch as eyes glaze over when I go into great detail about my novels. Fun.

It’s always interesting to note that some people don’t ask follow-up questions. You could say that you’re an astronaut and in reply get, “nice.” Or you could tell someone you lead expeditions in search of rare flora and fauna in New Guinea and receive in response, “interesting.” 

When I was a newspaper reporter a few people — younger ones — actually asked if I got paid for writing. I could never figure that out. No one asks a carpenter if they get paid for building houses or shelves. 

Not to change the subject (which is precisely what I’m doing) but yesterday the missus and I went in search of a new pair sunglasses (for me) at a place called the Sunglass Hut. The store was small so calling it a hut is appropriate. Plus they carry sunglasses so that’s two-for-two. Upon entering we were introduced to the person who would be helping us “today.” I both find it strange and nice that we were immediately on a first name basis with Robert. (Something can be both strange and nice, I looked it up.) He laid down the ground rules for us and then let us free range around the store. He hovered, but not obtrusively. Robert was fastidious, friendly, polite and, like of sales people in your better clothing and accessories stores, gay. (How do I know? Come on!) I’m not going to get into a thing here about how gay men tend to make the best salespeople, they just do. And if someone wants to accuse me of homophobia or stereotyping…well, they say it’s a free country, so have at it. But I’m not going to waver on this one. Facts is facts. I can also say that a higher percentage of lesbians play sports than straight women and know I’m speaking the truth and in no way belittling my gay brothers and sisters. 

I found a suitable pair of aviator-style which the wife said make me look like Joe Biden. I guess I could have done worse. 

The better half then went into a clothing shop and I slipped into a bookstore and accidentally bought a book (happens to me all the time). Then we stopped to get a bite to eat. In truth there were a helluva lot of bites involved. We ate inside an establishment. Last week we dined out, but had our meal under the sun. It’s nice to start gradually getting out more and doing what are called “normal” or “pre-pandemic” activities. It’s also nice to walk outside without a mask on. I like it when things are nice. I prefer when things are fantastic or stupendous or absolutely super, but I’ll settle for things being nice. 

Upon returning home I watched a film. Gotta be true to you.

I will now conclude this blog post by wishing one and all a terrific Walt Whitman’s birthday. That is why today’s a holiday — isn’t it? Or is it because today is Aida Valli’s birthday? Both? Either way suits me.

P.S. If during the last paragraph you said, "who's Aida Valli?" see me after class. If you also asked "who's Walt Whitman?" we're sending you back to the third grade.

P.P.S. It's also Rainer Werner Fassbinder's birthday. Like the previous two, he's "no longer with us" (i.e. dead).

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