Why is evereyone so vague about their jobs?

I really have no idea what anyone who’s in an office job actually does for a living. My parents worked in office jobs in the government and they used to bore me and my sister to death when they were talking about work during dinner, because it sounded like a foreign-tongue, mainly consisting of acronyms. Here’s a recreation of one of these conversations and in the interest of historical accuracy, these are all actual acronyms :
“So I went to the CAB, and found out that the DOT and DOE are on board my proposal”
“But did you check with the FTA?”
“No, the grant came in through the SAS of OST because of ISTA”*

I still don’t really know what my dad does. He says he’s a physicist, but he doesn’t have any physics labs in his office. He deals with policy and stuff, but it’s kind of hard for me to grasp that kind of profession. Do you clock in and out? How do people make sure you keep those hours if you don’t? What do you actually do at work? And he doesn’t have really good answers like I oversee and regulate policy, blah, blah, blah.

My friends have jobs in offices and I’m not sure what most of them do either. One person said he has a really monotonous routine of entering numbers into records.

I have a friend who’s in the field of PR. I write for newspapers and for this so I thought that might sound interesting, so I asked him and here’s our actual conversation:
“By the way, what do you do for a living again, i know it’s PR of some kind?”
“Yeah, PR”
“So what does that mean, exactly?”
“Public relations”
“No i know that”
“But what do you do”
“Reputation management”

And he’s in PR, for god’s sakes. Isn’t that in his job description to be able to explain things in a way people can understand? He got hired because of his college major but maybe not because of his ability to just speak in plain terms, people can understand. I’ve noticed many people use the word “non-profit” to describe their work as if that holds any meaning to me. I guess when someone says non-profit, they are either hinting that they are good people because they are devoting their workdays toward a charitable cause, or they are trying to express their annoyance at their bosses for deciding that money isn’t important and that that doesn’t correspond to their personal sense of greed. One girl said she worked for a non-profit and then when i probed further, I found out that she worked for an organization that promotes awareness for Jewish democracy, which sounded interesting. Why didn’t she say that? I think we’re all just so used to writing things in business speak on resumes that we forget to actually use words people can understand when describing our jobs.

I recently got what might be considered my first real office job (I did intern at a local newspaper but that wasn’t very officey) and I was really a blank slate as for what to expect on the other side of that partition. Oh, I’ve been back home for a year since I graduated from college, so I’ve seen all these people on the metro with their name tags and briefcases that they carry and that seems like an alien world to me.

Now, it seems a little less alien because while I don’t really know what all of those people do, I at least know what I do. I could summarize my organization and my position within my organization in 2-3 sentences but other people’s jobs still sound confusing and my parents still bore me to death when they talk about work. So I challenge you to try to tell me about your job in 2-3 sentences.

*For the record, CAB=The no-longer in existence Civil Aeronautics Board (but it was probably around back when my dad used to talk about this stuff, remember, I’m shooting for historical accuracy), DOT=Department of Transportation, DOE=Department of Energy, FTA=Federal Transit Administration, SAS=Senior Executive Staff, OST=Office of the Seceretary, and ISTA=Intramodal Surface Transportation Act.


One Response

  1. can’t say i really agree with you!

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