Etiquette Hell

General Etiquette => Life...in general => Topic started by: Devix on November 05, 2012, 06:52:43 PM

Title: When you apparently work for Evil Inc.
Post by: Devix on November 05, 2012, 06:52:43 PM
I thought about posting this in the ďWorkĒ section of the forum but since it deals with general peopleís reactions to my profession instead of problems with co-workers or anyone in my profession I thought it would be best here.  If not, please feel free to move it.

Let me just preface this by saying that I absolutely love my job.  I went to school for a completely different field and somehow stumbled into this field and I couldnít be happier.  It allows me to travel all over the world (just got back from Paris!), meet a lot of interesting people and it pays very well.  Now, there is absolutely nothing illegal about what I do and as far as I thought there was nothing morally ambiguous about it but whenever Iím introduced to people and they ask me what I do there are always the certain few that seem to think my profession is the epitome of evil. 

Now, itís usually a certain type of people that seem to have an issue with my profession and my field in general and as soon as Iíll mention what I do theyíll start on a diatribe about why what I do is whatís wrong with the world and theyíll start sprouting off their opinions while having never worked in the field themselves and being completely jaded and misinformed by their own personal issues.  In fact, Iíve seen quite a few posts in this board where posters have the same opinions as these people.  Up until now my response has been silence with a bemused smirk that only seems to set them off even more (I know, I know, I shouldnít be doing it but I donít even notice when my lips turn up in a smirk).  My only other responses havenít exactly been etiquette approved and I really want to change that.

So my question is how does one reply to those who seem to believe you work for the center of evil?  I donít want to set anyone off but I also donít want to leave them with the sense that what theyíre saying is right.
Title: Re: When you apparently work for Evil Inc.
Post by: Sneezy on November 05, 2012, 07:00:37 PM
Bean dip, lots and lots of bean dip. Pretend you heard them wrong and become enthusiastic about whatever you know they would love to talk about. Chances are, there is nothing you can say that won't change someone's mind and anything you say can be spun in such a way as to either confirm what they want to believe or allow them to brand you as defensive.
Title: Re: When you apparently work for Evil Inc.
Post by: Mental Magpie on November 05, 2012, 07:29:04 PM
Firstly, I don't see why the bemused smirk is rude/wrong.  I think it is the perfect response because you're showing them that they're not getting to you.

Secondly, you could always just refuse to answer the question.  I know that seems very weird because "What do you do?" is usually an innocuous question, so you can always just give a broader generalization if you are compelled to answer.  For example, I am a Corrections Officer (and just did O.C. training today...my nose still burns a little), so instead of telling people that I can say, "I work for the State."
Title: Re: When you apparently work for Evil Inc.
Post by: QueenofAllThings on November 05, 2012, 07:48:26 PM
Well, clearly you're selling tobacco to minors in a casino while wrapped around a pole ,....

Anywho, mental magpie is right. You may be proud of your work (as you should be) but you don't need to go into detail with folks.

"So, Devix, what do you do?
Oh, it's dull - tell me about your work!
No - really - what is it that you do?"

At this point you lean in and say "if I told you, I'd have to kill you. What do you think of this hummus?"
Title: Re: When you apparently work for Evil Inc.
Post by: Jaelle on November 05, 2012, 07:50:51 PM
Hmm, I sometimes get a similar reaction to my field.  I love my career -- and feel very strongly about what I do -- so what I usually want to do is leap right into the fray.

What I'm learning to do, though, is acquire that semi-bemused smile and wander off. I've found you usually can't change people who make those kinds of assumptions.
Title: Re: When you apparently work for Evil Inc.
Post by: ilrag on November 05, 2012, 08:01:28 PM
I don't like to talk about my job generally because it's super technical.  Even the name of my company contains words that most people don't know.  I just deflect, since I don't want to give a vocab/science lecture.  Just don't name your company.
Title: Re: When you apparently work for Evil Inc.
Post by: LifeOnPluto on November 05, 2012, 08:11:16 PM
This might be a little confrontational, but for extreme cases where bean dipping doesn't work, you could look them firmly in the eye and say "Excuse me - are you implying that I am a bad person for working in XYZ Industry?"

You could even go further and tell them how very offended YOU are that they're being so disrespectful of your profession.
Title: Re: When you apparently work for Evil Inc.
Post by: JenJay on November 05, 2012, 08:14:14 PM
I'm trying to think of a controversial business that doesn't have some positive benefit and I'm having a hard time coming up with anything. In your shoes I'd focus on the positives and say "It can be controversial, but what I love about it is [positive thing]. What do you do?"
Title: Re: When you apparently work for Evil Inc.
Post by: Sharnita on November 05, 2012, 08:17:01 PM
There are some people ardently opposed to big box stores. Dentists can get a lot of trash talk.  Teachers get negative talk about whatever subject they teach. I know there are other examples.
Title: Re: When you apparently work for Evil Inc.
Post by: Hmmmmm on November 05, 2012, 08:23:53 PM
I'd just reply, "It's a shame you feel that way.  What do you do?". And if they persist..."Our opinions are very different.  I think it's best we find a different topic." and if they wont stop, "Oh look, my cats on fire. Got to go."

Title: Re: When you apparently work for Evil Inc.
Post by: dharmaexpress on November 05, 2012, 08:28:42 PM
Oh I am so relieved, because this happens to me, too!  I've had dates who never wanted to see me again after learning what I do, and friends from grad school who disowned me when I took my job.  Which I *love*.

I guess my reaction is probably pretty dismissive: a bless-your-heart-smile with a side of bean dip.

I love that this post makes me sound like I craft slippers made from real kittens.  I don't, promise.
Title: Re: When you apparently work for Evil Inc.
Post by: Venus193 on November 05, 2012, 08:28:54 PM
My industry takes a lot of heat, too, and I make no apologies for it.  Just bean dip.
Title: Re: When you apparently work for Evil Inc.
Post by: White Lotus on November 05, 2012, 08:31:14 PM
Why not describe the specifics of your job?  Don't say "I work for Evil Empire, Inc." Say, "I jockey a computer all day," or "analyze numbers", "analyze data," or some other infinitely boring specific?
Title: Re: When you apparently work for Evil Inc.
Post by: oz diva on November 05, 2012, 08:32:41 PM
You work for a bank, right. ;)
Title: Re: When you apparently work for Evil Inc.
Post by: O'Dell on November 05, 2012, 08:33:32 PM
Well a smirk is a smug or conceited smile. If that is really the face you are making, then it makes sense that it sets already angry people off. That you do it yet claim you don't notice you are doing it isn't exactly making me sympathetic to your case.

I say be vague and describe what you do if you can. Say you are an international drug dealer and you tell people you are in sales or pharmaceuticals. If you're an arms dealer, you say security. You're in charge of clothing sweatshops, you say fashion. Etc.

Then ask the other person a question or get them onto small talk. Since it's a certain type of person, you can be more forthcoming once you know a person isn't that type.
Title: Re: When you apparently work for Evil Inc.
Post by: Lady Snowdon on November 05, 2012, 08:38:50 PM
I work for a healthcare insurance company, and lots of people seem to think all I do is sit around stamping "denied" on claims all day.  ::)  I've found that the cheerful and positive approach is the one that works best for me.  If someone asks me what I do, I laugh and tell them, "I work in *myfield* - everyone thinks it's terrible, but the people I work with are so dedicated!" or something similar.  It seems to disarm people that you know what the nebulous "they" thinks about your job/field/industry.  Sometimes I'd really like to say something like, "My life would be so much easier if I just denied everything; I wouldn't have to do nearly as much work!", but many people seem to mishear that as "I wish I could deny everything" so I just go with cheerful and positive instead. 

I'm really curious what industry you're in!   
Title: Re: When you apparently work for Evil Inc.
Post by: Golden Phoenix on November 05, 2012, 09:27:30 PM
I was a debt collector. To some people this is on par with saying i kick cute animals for a living.

"Well, someone has to do it, they might as well pay me" With a smile followed by a heap of beandip usually worked in my social circle.
Title: Re: When you apparently work for Evil Inc.
Post by: Army Mom on November 05, 2012, 09:35:26 PM
I worked for a certain US government agency that is very unpopular every April  >:D Now that is some tough beandipping! Oddly enough, many married couples work there because it can be difficult to get beyond the "so what do you do?" question with potential dates.
Title: Re: When you apparently work for Evil Inc.
Post by: mmswm on November 05, 2012, 10:39:16 PM
I was a middle school math teacher in an inner city school for 10 years.  After I left teaching, I took a job with a major bank (right at the height of the banking crisis).  I've been bashed up one side and down the other for most of my working life because of my chosen professions. These days, when people ask me what I do, I say "research".  I'm currently on long term leave from my job, but my position is actually in a research area within the bank.  Like a PP said, be vague about it.  It really works.
Title: Re: When you apparently work for Evil Inc.
Post by: WillyNilly on November 05, 2012, 10:48:02 PM
I'd embrace it with snark "well yes it is evil but the tears of my victims as we bled them dry is just the best wrinkle cure - see?" or "well if I didn't work for Evil Inc think of those poor put upon activists I'd be putting out of a job!"
Title: Re: When you apparently work for Evil Inc.
Post by: Danika on November 05, 2012, 10:57:01 PM
I used to work for a big-name well-known company that makes many things. One division (that I never happened to work for) is often disliked by some folks. If people asked me where I worked and I answered that question, some would be horrified and say "You don't work in the 'One division' do you?" And I'd say very flatly, no emotion whatsoever "no." But if they continued and got on their soapboxes, I'd just reply like they'd just told me some boring fact I'd never heard before "Hmmm." And I wouldn't engage. I'd eventually just bean-dip. But I didn't want to appear guilty or like I was apologizing for or defending my company. Nor did I want to be confrontational. I just didn't engage.
Title: Re: When you apparently work for Evil Inc.
Post by: Pen^2 on November 06, 2012, 05:55:27 AM
I don't think it's necessary to avoid telling people what you do, unless this sour reaction is really wide-spread. It can be good to chat with someone about your profession if they're not biased about it.

I had a friend who was a debt collector, actually, and then switched fields and worked in taxation. You'd have thought he'd be tarred and feathered. But actually, he was really good about it. Whenever someone started giving him the stinkeye about his profession, he'd say "it's a lot different to what people expect. Why, just the other day..." and tell some hilarious anecdote about his work that was unexpected and bizarre enough to have people interested or at least thrown off-guard, and we could all laugh together about how weird the situation he described was. And nothing bonds people like laughing together. He had a real corker about a woman who tried to pay a $15 fee using a cat that was supposed to be some fancy breed--she turned up at the office, put it on his desk, and walked out before he could respond. It's strange enough that people always start asking 'what was she thinking?' and 'was she crazy?' instead of focusing on how he was trying to apparently commit ethical sins against her. I'm a teacher, and am often informed that I'm the cause of every ill in this world, but have used his technique with more success than I expected, despite being nowhere near as charismatic.

Anyway, if you have any good funny stories from your work, they might help mellow things out a bit. Worst-case scenario, if you see one of the 'types' of people who you've noticed tend to have bad things to say about what you do, just be vague to them specifically, or bean dip and never let them find out at all.
Title: Re: When you apparently work for Evil Inc.
Post by: Seraphia on November 06, 2012, 07:56:17 AM
I don't think it's necessary to avoid telling people what you do, unless this sour reaction is really wide-spread. It can be good to chat with someone about your profession if they're not biased about it.

I had a friend who was a debt collector, actually, and then switched fields and worked in taxation. You'd have thought he'd be tarred and feathered. But actually, he was really good about it. Whenever someone started giving him the stinkeye about his profession, he'd say "it's a lot different to what people expect. Why, just the other day..." and tell some hilarious anecdote about his work that was unexpected and bizarre enough to have people interested or at least thrown off-guard, and we could all laugh together about how weird the situation he described was. And nothing bonds people like laughing together. He had a real corker about a woman who tried to pay a $15 fee using a cat that was supposed to be some fancy breed--she turned up at the office, put it on his desk, and walked out before he could respond. It's strange enough that people always start asking 'what was she thinking?' and 'was she crazy?' instead of focusing on how he was trying to apparently commit ethical sins against her. I'm a teacher, and am often informed that I'm the cause of every ill in this world, but have used his technique with more success than I expected, despite being nowhere near as charismatic.

Anyway, if you have any good funny stories from your work, they might help mellow things out a bit. Worst-case scenario, if you see one of the 'types' of people who you've noticed tend to have bad things to say about what you do, just be vague to them specifically, or bean dip and never let them find out at all.

I really like that technique!

Leading with a funny story seems like it would help in a lot of "you do what?!" situations. My job is technical - not nearly as technical as it sounds, but as soon as my "official" title crosses my lips, eyes glaze over. I don't like to say "I work with computers," since then I get people asking me to update their antivirus programs. But making people laugh seems like a really good strategy.
Title: Re: When you apparently work for Evil Inc.
Post by: Kiara on November 06, 2012, 08:07:25 AM
I work for a healthcare insurance company, and lots of people seem to think all I do is sit around stamping "denied" on claims all day.  ::)  I've found that the cheerful and positive approach is the one that works best for me.  If someone asks me what I do, I laugh and tell them, "I work in *myfield* - everyone thinks it's terrible, but the people I work with are so dedicated!" or something similar.  It seems to disarm people that you know what the nebulous "they" thinks about your job/field/industry.  Sometimes I'd really like to say something like, "My life would be so much easier if I just denied everything; I wouldn't have to do nearly as much work!", but many people seem to mishear that as "I wish I could deny everything" so I just go with cheerful and positive instead. 

I'm really curious what industry you're in!   

You too?   :D  People act like I personally decided Great-Aunt Mildred couldn't get her lung transplant.  Usually I do one of a couple things.  My company is owned by a hospital, so half the time I just say I work for them.  Or, if they start going off on what I do, I smile and say "Yeah, I can't imagine how hard our care managers work.  Must be so difficult to evaluate all those treatments.  I'm lucky I'm just in finance."  Which is all true.
Title: Re: When you apparently work for Evil Inc.
Post by: Tabby Uprising on November 06, 2012, 08:22:58 AM
Ugh, Devix, that stinks.  I don't have any advice, but lots of empathy!  When I worked in HR I got this all the time.  People would just unleash all of their personal, pent-up HR angst at me and I'd be trapped listening to how useless HR was ad nauseam.  It was too draining to try and defend my career and it was disheartening to hear these opinions that felt dismissive of all the blood/sweat/tears I put into my job.

Good luck!
Title: Re: When you apparently work for Evil Inc.
Post by: Ginger G on November 06, 2012, 08:30:51 AM
I work in HR also, and what Tabby Uprising said is very true.  The employees where I work pretty much like and respect us, but evidently people at other companies who have had not-so-great HR experiences think we're all "useless" or "out to scr3w employees over".  In addition I work for an insurance company (property & casualty), which also gets a lot of flak and an undeserved reputation for being shady and dishonest.  Heck, watch daytime tv and every other commercial is some law firm railing against insurance companies.  Whenever anyone says anything negative about either my profession or industry, I just say I love my job and I work for a great company.  If they want to continue, then I just say "excuse me" and walk away.
Title: Re: When you apparently work for Evil Inc.
Post by: wx4caster on November 06, 2012, 09:05:31 AM
I'm a meteorologist and what works for me is to find the humour in any question or rant directed my way and reply with a combination of bean-dip and sarcasm.

Examples:

Them: "What's the forecast for tomorrow?"
Me: "Check the newspaper. Today's my day off."

Them: "I want.... snow for Christmas/sunshine for the weekend/more rain for my garden."
Me: "The weather-making machine in the basement is broken and the parts are on back-order" or "I'll need 2 months notice and the exact delivery date is not guaranteed".

Them: "Weather forecasts are always wrong."
Me: "The forecast is for the entire county, not just your backyard.  A few sprinkles during your picnic when the forecast called for a chance of showers is not wrong - just annoying."

In spite of all the criticism I get sometimes, I really do love my job.  It is endlessly fascinating and I work with a great group of people.
Title: Re: When you apparently work for Evil Inc.
Post by: Eden on November 06, 2012, 09:10:36 AM
I think this thread has offered several great techniques and I'd stock them in my arsenal if I were the OP to use depending on my mood. If I really did not feel up to the possibility of some conflict, I'd give the vague or slightly misleading answer. E.g., if I worked in pharmaceuticals and someone asked what I did I'd respond, "I work in healthcare supply." But if I was up for the potential for the reaction to go either way, I'd give a more precise answer and have a positive anecdote at the ready, as well as some bean dip.
Title: Re: When you apparently work for Evil Inc.
Post by: pierrotlunaire0 on November 06, 2012, 09:35:55 AM
I have a tendency to be discreet about the fact that I work for the DMV.  Looking back at it, however, I am more likely to be asked questions than be attacked, but I try to avoid it anyway.

If it can right down to it, I am very proud of my job, my employer, and how good I am at my job, and I think my attitude shows.  You might not like my job, and regard me as "one of those bloodsuckers from the state," but I am doing an honest job, working hard, and nothing and no one can take that from me.
Title: Re: When you apparently work for Evil Inc.
Post by: Sterling on November 06, 2012, 09:58:42 AM
I work in education and I tend to get a lot of people saying REALLY nasty things about the types of students i work with.  They basically say none of these students should be in college and how are they suppose to make it in the real work and that my job is a waste of tax payer money.

My husband works for a Mega Corp that has a reputation for being evil even though neither of us feels that it really is.
My solution is to generally raise and eyebrow, make some noncommittal sound and move on in conversation avoiding the topic.
Title: Re: When you apparently work for Evil Inc.
Post by: hobish on November 06, 2012, 10:02:44 AM
You work for a bank, right. ;)

I do, in mortgage financing, and have had "a pox" wished on me for it ::)  I, too, really love my job.It's nothing i ever expected to do with my life; but i like it, and i am good at it. Usually i tell people that; but if i know it is someone likely to give me guff about it i head it right off at the pass and tell people i make the rich richer  >:D then if pushed explain why i love reading financial statements.

Well, clearly you're selling tobacco to minors in a casino while wrapped around a pole ,....

Anywho, mental magpie is right. You may be proud of your work (as you should be) but you don't need to go into detail with folks.

"So, Devix, what do you do?
Oh, it's dull - tell me about your work!
No - really - what is it that you do?"

At this point you lean in and say "if I told you, I'd have to kill you. What do you think of this hummus?"

In my younger fitter days (holy moly 20 years ago! ahh, to have that body again :)) i was also an exotic dancer. It is a perfectly legal and quite lucrative job. I had a lot of fun at it. Can you (general you) do a hand stand, grip a pole with your ankles and pull yourself up by the strength of your awesome stomach muscles, then spin around and land gracefully? LOL, i can't anymore; but once upon a time. It paid so well that i could work 20-30 hours a week and make enough to pay my rent and go to school full time, plus the flexible schedule gave me time to be an active member of the National Guard and tutor ESL math classes in my spare time. Not to mention it kept me in great shape.

There are good people and bad people in any profession. Heck, there are a few jobs mentioned here that make me involuntarily twitch, just because of what they are and my personal experience with them, and there is virtually nothing that would help that. Sometimes that is just going to be the case and the only thing you can do is move on.
Title: Re: When you apparently work for Evil Inc.
Post by: pierrotlunaire0 on November 06, 2012, 10:17:12 AM
Hobish's is a great example.  She wasn't hurting anyone.  She wasn't hurting herself.  She was true to her standards.

You could have a career in a religious field and have people react poorly to you.
Title: Re: When you apparently work for Evil Inc.
Post by: amylouky on November 06, 2012, 10:21:48 AM
I work for the utility company. So pretty much everyone I meet is a customer, and has a gripe about service outages, rates they think are too high, or the fact that their service got cut off after they "only missed two months". Yeah, I actually got that one.
I generally just shrug and say, "I'm just in <my dept>, I have no control over that. Bean dip?"
Title: Re: When you apparently work for Evil Inc.
Post by: Devix on November 06, 2012, 10:55:29 AM
I'm actually kind of relieved to know that there are a lot of people from all sorts of fields that face this same thing.  It's kind of nice knowing that people have to deal with crazies no matter where they work.   ;D

There is a lot of good advice here and I'd love to thank the other posters for their insight.  I guess the thing that gets to me is that I am put on the defensive because I feel like they're attracting me personally.  They use words like "People like you" which gets me riled up even though I should be more level headed and try not to engage.  I think from now on I'll try to be as vague as possible or shift the subject to what they do for a living.  After all, most people like talking about themselves.  The humor tip is good advice and I have a few stories that could make even the most opposed crack a smile. 

You work for a bank, right. ;)

Nope.  I actually work as a photographer / photo-retoucher mostly in the fashion and beauty industry and after hearing some of the other posters here I realize I don't have it so bad.  What I don't like is that as soon as I mention this I'll have people go off about how we are the reason young girls are starving themselves and how we are destroying society by creating an unreachable standard of beauty.  I'm just kind of left there wondering what they're getting on about since I thought all I was doing was taking pretty pictures and making them prettier.   ::)


Well, clearly you're selling tobacco to minors in a casino while wrapped around a pole ,....

Anywho, mental magpie is right. You may be proud of your work (as you should be) but you don't need to go into detail with folks.

"So, Devix, what do you do?
Oh, it's dull - tell me about your work!
No - really - what is it that you do?"

At this point you lean in and say "if I told you, I'd have to kill you. What do you think of this hummus?"

I love this so much!


In my younger fitter days (holy moly 20 years ago! ahh, to have that body again :)) i was also an exotic dancer. It is a perfectly legal and quite lucrative job.

I have a friend that works as an exotic dancer and she loves it.  People around her act as if she should be embarrassed about it but she doesn't even bat an eyelash when telling people what she does for work.  It's always funny when people take offense at your job for you.  Her favorite is when other women would tell her she was being oppressed and exploited and all she could do was crack up and tell them that her bank account said different. 
Title: Re: When you apparently work for Evil Inc.
Post by: lilfox on November 06, 2012, 11:52:44 AM
Well, if someone (as a previous poster mentioned) can catch flak for taking a job as an inner city middle school teacher ( :o), I defy anyone to come up with a job that is completely free from criticism!  After all, everyone knows, or says they know, or saw a TV show once where a nun was stealing money, or a nurse was playing 'angel of mercy,' or a teacher was the bad influence.

"People like you" is a a really obnoxious, dismissive thing to say, I would get pretty annoyed by that too.  I'd want to say something back like "Well, we all did graduate from Evil Photographer School."   :P  It sounds like from people's experience, a diverting anecdote or a vague response (depending on the asker) are your best bets.
Title: Re: When you apparently work for Evil Inc.
Post by: Firecat on November 06, 2012, 11:59:49 AM
I think it is worth considering and discussing the impact of the fashion industry on standards of beauty, the self-esteem of girls and women, etc. But that can be done without personally attacking anyone, and is out of the scope of this thread.

I do know how you feel to an extent, OP. I work in online education. And some of the comments I've heard about diploma mills and the like are hurtful and, frankly, ignorant. I like my job and I'm good at it. Mostly I've been able to sidestep or ignore, but it does sting at times.
Title: Re: When you apparently work for Evil Inc.
Post by: exitzero on November 06, 2012, 12:04:59 PM
I was a debt collector. To some people this is on par with saying i kick cute animals for a living.

"Well, someone has to do it, they might as well pay me" With a smile followed by a heap of beandip usually worked in my social circle.

I did debt collection for many years, too. I used to tell people it was the world's second oldest profession.
Title: Re: When you apparently work for Evil Inc.
Post by: TootsNYC on November 06, 2012, 12:36:48 PM
Hobish's is a great example.  She wasn't hurting anyone.  She wasn't hurting herself.  She was true to her standards.

You could have a career in a religious field and have people react poorly to you.

This Sunday my pastor said he sometimes doesn't know what to say on plane trips (he travels a lot) when people ask what he does. "When I say, 'I'm a pastor,' the conversation stops right there." And I can imagine that he might be verbally attacked, given what some people assume about Christians.

When you get "people like you," I think you are entitled to be offended. And repeat, in an offended tone, "People like ME?! What exactly do you mean, 'people like me'? People who have ethics and are friendly? People you meet socially and don't know well? Excuse me, I need to freshen my drink." And then walk immediately away.
Title: Re: When you apparently work for Evil Inc.
Post by: BarensMom on November 06, 2012, 12:49:50 PM
DH and I both worked for Evil Oil Companies.  We finally decided our stock answer would be, "...and how did you get here today?"  When the challenger would sputter about BART, AC Transit, or carpooling, we'd reply, "...so our point is made" and walk away.  In all this time, only one person challenging us actually rode a bicycle to the party.
Title: Re: When you apparently work for Evil Inc.
Post by: Sharnita on November 06, 2012, 01:15:15 PM
Well, if someone (as a previous poster mentioned) can catch flak for taking a job as an inner city middle school teacher ( :o), I defy anyone to come up with a job that is completely free from criticism!  After all, everyone knows, or says they know, or saw a TV show once where a nun was stealing money, or a nurse was playing 'angel of mercy,' or a teacher was the bad influence.

"People like you" is a a really obnoxious, dismissive thing to say, I would get pretty annoyed by that too.  I'd want to say something back like "Well, we all did graduate from Evil Photographer School."   :P  It sounds like from people's experience, a diverting anecdote or a vague response (depending on the asker) are your best bets.

Inner city teahcers get tons of heat!  especially Secondary.  They get it from people in "nicer" communities who don't know why the inner city kid don't perform as well as their kids - must be the teachers.  They get it from the people within the community who expect them to fill the gaps.  They get it from politicians, from kids, from parents, from people who have seen one too many inspirational movies.
Title: Re: When you apparently work for Evil Inc.
Post by: JeanFromBNA on November 06, 2012, 02:01:00 PM
I remembered hearing an interview with Sister Helen Prejean, a leading American advocate for the abolition of the death penalty.  She described how she was waiting in an airport when she saw Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, Antonin Scalia (best described for the purposes of this story as not an advocate for the abolition of the death penalty) a few rows away.  She hurried up to him, and asked, "Are you Scalia?"

He replied, "Somebody has to be."
Title: Re: When you apparently work for Evil Inc.
Post by: Mediancat on November 06, 2012, 02:51:10 PM
I work for a healthcare insurance company, and lots of people seem to think all I do is sit around stamping "denied" on claims all day. 

Semi off-topic: I work for the same kind of company, and jokingly claim I do that all day, with an evil grin on my face, while rubbing my hands together. I tend not to get a lot of people "calling me out" after that.

Rob
Title: Re: When you apparently work for Evil Inc.
Post by: Mediancat on November 06, 2012, 02:53:25 PM
By the way, if you want to see people who literally work for Evil, Inc (work-safe):

http://www.evil-comic.com/

Rob
Title: Re: When you apparently work for Evil Inc.
Post by: mmswm on November 06, 2012, 03:34:14 PM
Well, if someone (as a previous poster mentioned) can catch flak for taking a job as an inner city middle school teacher ( :o), I defy anyone to come up with a job that is completely free from criticism!  After all, everyone knows, or says they know, or saw a TV show once where a nun was stealing money, or a nurse was playing 'angel of mercy,' or a teacher was the bad influence.

"People like you" is a a really obnoxious, dismissive thing to say, I would get pretty annoyed by that too.  I'd want to say something back like "Well, we all did graduate from Evil Photographer School."   :P  It sounds like from people's experience, a diverting anecdote or a vague response (depending on the asker) are your best bets.

Inner city teachers get tons of heat!  especially Secondary.  They get it from people in "nicer" communities who don't know why the inner city kid don't perform as well as their kids - must be the teachers.  They get it from the people within the community who expect them to fill the gaps.  They get it from politicians, from kids, from parents, from people who have seen one too many inspirational movies.

This.  Exactly.  It's why I got out of education.  My ulcers couldn't take the stress anymore.  I loved my kids.  My students did reasonably well compared to their (real) peers.  They fought poverty, drugs, violence, absent parents.  Some came to me having immigrated from 3rd world countries, speaking no English and completely illiterate in their native languages.   Some came to me 4 or 5 grade levels behind. Yet somehow, I was supposed to get them performing on grade level in a matter of months.  I considered myself a success if I could get them 2-3 grade levels ahead of where they started. We worked hard.  We had fun. I've had a number of students tell me that I was the reason why they didn't join a gang or do drugs and a few told me that I was the first teacher that ever believed in them, and the reason why they fought to stay in school and go to college.  Yet, according to the politicians and the public, I'm a bad teacher. I couldn't live with that anymore.  I have found other ways of making a difference in kids' lives, but unless something dramatic changes, I will never go back to public education.

Okay, sorry for the hijack.  Now back to your regularly scheduled thread.
Title: Re: When you apparently work for Evil Inc.
Post by: Slartibartfast on November 06, 2012, 03:37:16 PM
I think the right response differs depending on whether people are saying something because 1) they're ignorant of what your job/company does, 2) they hear your industry/company name and assume you must do [unpleasant job] when your job actually has nothing to do with that, or 3) they really and truly believe what you do is immoral or unethical.

In the first case, I think you can include a statement about what your job/company actually does and that might head off a lot of the speculation.  "I work as a product spokeswoman at conventions - some people call it "booth babes" but the job is really more about knowing our product and being able to answer questions than it is about looking pretty."

In the second case, you can either defend your company/industry or you can clarify what your job is right off the bat.  "I'm an IT specialist for BigInsuranceCompany - I don't deal with claims, but I do keep their computers going."

In the third case, I think you just have to accept that what you do is controversial and some people are going to take issue with it.  If nothing else, it gives you a quick litmus test for which people aren't worth putting energy toward being friends with  :-\

(I'll admit, I can kind of see this from both sides.  My best friend from college now does graphic and web design for a national group with a lot of political clout, which I'll say is PETA for the sake of example even though it isn't.  She believes very strongly in her cause, as does everyone else she works with, but obviously there are a lot of people out there who think the whole organization is wrong and should not exist.  I happen to think her organization is a good thing and does a good job raising awareness about their issue, so it doesn't bother me when she gets a bit political in her Tweets/Facebook status updates.  On the other side of the coin, I know a lady at church who has a fairly distasteful job for a large oil company.  I like her fine as a person, but I just can't get past the fact that she's built a career out of doing something I consider unethical and sleazy.)
Title: Re: When you apparently work for Evil Inc.
Post by: onikenbai on November 06, 2012, 06:14:13 PM
DH and I both worked for Evil Oil Companies.  We finally decided our stock answer would be, "...and how did you get here today?"  When the challenger would sputter about BART, AC Transit, or carpooling, we'd reply, "...so our point is made" and walk away.  In all this time, only one person challenging us actually rode a bicycle to the party.

I probably remediate your sites.  Carry on, we've got it under control.

I love my job.  We specialize in the remediation of industrial contamination, and my particular interest is chlorinated solvents.  Cue the crickets when people ask.  I swear I can see their eyes glaze over.
Title: Re: When you apparently work for Evil Inc.
Post by: jemma on November 07, 2012, 06:57:28 AM
You can also take the tact of doing it unapologetically:  I retouch fashion photos.  I make beautiful art that people love to look at!  And unlike many artists, I even get paid for my work ;-).
Title: Re: When you apparently work for Evil Inc.
Post by: KenveeB on November 07, 2012, 07:57:54 AM
I'm a prosecutor, so I get this a lot. (From people who think lawyers in general are awful, and people who think prosecutors specifically are evil people who do nothing but dream up ways to put innocent people in jail.) So depending on my feel of the person and the rest of the conversation, as well as my mood and how willing I am to discuss things, I alternately say "I'm a prosecutor," "I'm a lawyer", or "I work for the county/government." If anyone gives me flack, I try to just let it roll off and say cheerfully, "I love my job." Like a PP said, having a funny non-evil story to relate is a nice way to break the ice.
Title: Re: When you apparently work for Evil Inc.
Post by: spookycatlady on November 07, 2012, 08:29:30 AM
I also work for Evil, Inc.  Also known as Megacorp.  I posted about a horrible evening:

http://www.etiquettehell.com/smf/index.php?topic=119708.msg2777873#msg2777873 (http://www.etiquettehell.com/smf/index.php?topic=119708.msg2777873#msg2777873)

It's always a struggle when meeting new people, but after that incident, I very quickly explain the job in one breath and use many dull words that people don't want to pursue: analysis, policy, liaison, disclaimer.  That sort of thing. 

I would say about one in ten people choose to pursue the conversation to one degree or another and depending on the tone, I will either launch into wild stories from back in day when I was the face of evil for Megacorp or I will downplay my role as that of desk jockey and email answerer. 
Title: Re: When you apparently work for Evil Inc.
Post by: Winterlight on November 07, 2012, 09:07:48 AM
I usually go with, "I'm a contractor." In DC, so are 65% of the other people in the room!
Title: Re: When you apparently work for Evil Inc.
Post by: WillyNilly on November 07, 2012, 09:09:47 AM
So I've been reading this thread and I keep thinking about when Homer Simpson was recruited by the Scorpio Evil Inc company.  It truly was some James Bond-type of terrible company externally, but to Homer it was the best job ever with the greatest boss ever.
Title: Re: When you apparently work for Evil Inc.
Post by: Redneck Gravy on November 07, 2012, 09:21:09 AM
I am a bookkeeper. 

I am employed by a builder and work part time for him, then I keep books for half a dozen others.  An auto repair shop (who hasn't been ripped off by a mechanic at least once in their life?), an oilfield service company (everyone leaps to BIG OIL) and I actually keep books for a strip joint/bar (can't even tell you what remarks that might draw if I mentioned it).  There are a couple of others that draw other unkind comments so I just say I'm basically self employed.

I also work with a sports league that plays in the evenings and weekends.  I can't tell you the number of complaints I have had because of a rain out...apparently someone thinks I have a secret Batphone to God about the weather !!! 

Really, you can't win sometimes OP.  You love your job and if the comments start, just slap them with beandip and walk away or as a PP suggested let them know that you are insulted by their comments.  Why do some people think they are entitled to SHARE their opinion? 

Our mothers were right if you can't say anything nice, don't say anything.
Title: Re: When you apparently work for Evil Inc.
Post by: LibraryLady on November 07, 2012, 09:40:43 AM
You can also turn it back on to the person who ask the question.  What do YOU do?  Oh, you are a engineer.  How can you stand to do all that math, well I could never do that, blah blah blah.  Make it about them, not you.  I am a librarian - and I get that 'oh I wish I could read books all day'.  I do too, but that is a small part of my job, in between mopping up fluids, working on budgets, managing people, and other duties that go along with being a director of a medium size library,  it isn't all reading books.
Title: Re: When you apparently work for Evil Inc.
Post by: hobish on November 07, 2012, 09:51:28 AM

It sounds like EHellions could form our own little Evil Empire  (http://www.desismileys.com/smileys/desismileys_6882.gif) (http://www.desismileys.com/)
Title: Re: When you apparently work for Evil Inc.
Post by: mbbored on November 07, 2012, 10:11:41 AM
I research mosquito control in a very hippie/all natural/organic town. Depending on the personality of who's asking, I bean dip or give a mini-lecture. Only once was I forced to say "I'm sorry, but I'm at this party to have fun. Talking about my work and being told it's horrible is not fun for me so I'm going to go over there to sample the guacamole. Have a nice day!"
Title: Re: When you apparently work for Evil Inc.
Post by: MissRose on November 07, 2012, 12:38:45 PM
Its too hard to explain my job to other people because of the work I do.  I simply say I do customer/technical support (or work with computers) depending on the people I am with that ask.  Only a few people outside of my place understand what my job entails as they do similar work that is either support or sales based.  Its better than explaining it to people.  As long as your work is not illegal, no reason for people to make a deal about the work you do and/or the place that employs you.
Title: Re: When you apparently work for Evil Inc.
Post by: BarensMom on November 07, 2012, 06:27:38 PM
I also work for Evil, Inc.  Also known as Megacorp.  I posted about a horrible evening:

http://www.etiquettehell.com/smf/index.php?topic=119708.msg2777873#msg2777873 (http://www.etiquettehell.com/smf/index.php?topic=119708.msg2777873#msg2777873)

It's always a struggle when meeting new people, but after that incident, I very quickly explain the job in one breath and use many dull words that people don't want to pursue: analysis, policy, liaison, disclaimer.  That sort of thing. 

I would say about one in ten people choose to pursue the conversation to one degree or another and depending on the tone, I will either launch into wild stories from back in day when I was the face of evil for Megacorp or I will downplay my role as that of desk jockey and email answerer.

Have you seen Sean or Chloe since that night?
Title: Re: When you apparently work for Evil Inc.
Post by: spookycatlady on November 08, 2012, 11:15:27 AM
@BarensMom  I haven't seen them since, but my husband went for lunch with Sean yesterday.  I don't think we'll be invited over as a couple any time soon.  I feel for the Dude because we don't have a lot of mutual couple friends, as we have pretty polarizing interests.  He was really disappointed about the sour feeling left in my mouth after that night, but understands why I've cooled on them.
Title: Re: When you apparently work for Evil Inc.
Post by: bah12 on November 08, 2012, 11:33:18 AM
I'm jumping into this late, I know.  While my general work is not controversial at all, some people do have strong opinions about what I'm doing (both on the positive and negative side).

I think you react to the "what do you do" question depends on how important it is to you that you talk freely about your work and who you are talking to.  For instance, I do think you should be proud of what you do and you shouldn't have to feel like you can't be honest about what you do and who you work for.  But, if you're talking to someone who is just going to go off on you, waste your time, and you either don't care about personally, or will not see again, then is it really worth it to tell them the very thing that will set them off?  Maybe...only you can decide.

However, talking to someone you care about...family, close friends, an SO, I really think that you should be able to talk freely.  And those people, despite their opinions, will hopefully respect you enough to understand that you are doing something you love, that is legal, presumably safe, and likely not as "evil" as some may think.

How do you react once they start going off?  "Thank you for sharing your thoughts.  There are some other details and viewpoints that you may not be aware of and I'd love to sit down and chat about it, but I'm running late for X".  or "If you're interested in talking about this more I'm availabe at X time."  (All depending on how much you want to get into it).

For family/close friends/SO's:  "I appreciate your opinion, but it hurts me that you put something I love down that way.  The media has not been kind to my company/industry and if you're interested in learning more, I'd be happy to talk about it.  If not, then can you please do me a favor and not mention how evil my career is?  I know how you feel.  I don't need you to keep reinforcing it."
Title: Re: When you apparently work for Evil Inc.
Post by: Sunbeem on November 08, 2012, 08:59:18 PM
You work for a bank, right. ;)

My guess would've been something to do with the oil industry.

I have a similar problem- I work in the field of environmental science, and many people upon meeting me seem to confuse "environmental scientist" with "environmentalist", and leap to the conclusion that I am one of those "tree-huggers" that would kill a child to save a whale, judges them for not recycling their toilet paper, and spends my weekend throwing red paint on fur-wearers.  Oy.  I've had to get very practiced at patiently deflecting the hostility and explaining what I REALLY do.  And it does not involve throwing paint on people.
Title: Re: When you apparently work for Evil Inc.
Post by: Allyson on November 08, 2012, 10:18:12 PM
I was thinking tabloid journalist!

The next time someone starts attacking your work, you could say something like, "I know, a lot of people feel that way. It's an interesting discussion, but I'd rather not talk about my work off the job!" The 'I know people feel that way' lets them gently know that they aren't the first person to bring up these concerns, you've heard the POV before so they aren't giving you new information.
Title: Re: When you apparently work for Evil Inc.
Post by: kglory on November 09, 2012, 12:23:12 AM
When I was about 5 years old, I asked my dentist (who I honestly really liked), "How can you be a dentist?   Isn't it gross to put your fingers in people's mouths all day?"

He replied by asking me calmly, "What do you want to be when you grow up?"  I said, "A writer."  He said, "But isn't that gross to write stories about people all day?"

The irony was lost on me.  But I realized that I had said Something Bad.   And my mom later explained to me how what I said was very rude!

I'm sorry, that's what that thread makes me think of ;)  But in my defense, I was 5 years old!  Past that, I can't see polite adults asking each other this kind of question -- and, from this thread, for apparently every career there is out there!
Title: Re: When you apparently work for Evil Inc.
Post by: girlysprite on November 09, 2012, 03:29:41 AM
DH and I both worked for Evil Oil Companies.  We finally decided our stock answer would be, "...and how did you get here today?"  When the challenger would sputter about BART, AC Transit, or carpooling, we'd reply, "...so our point is made" and walk away.  In all this time, only one person challenging us actually rode a bicycle to the party.

It reminds me of a story of a farmer and his wife who had dinner at the house of another couple. The couple launched into stories about the evils of how farm animals are bred and grown these days. The farmer got up, went to the kitchen, checked the package from the chicken they were eating (raised on the same kind of farms the couple was railing against), took it back into the living room and told them to put their money where their mouth was. At least the couple had the decency to act embarressed after that.
Title: Re: When you apparently work for Evil Inc.
Post by: Giggity on November 09, 2012, 12:38:20 PM
So my question is how does one reply to those who seem to believe you work for the center of evil?  I donít want to set anyone off but I also donít want to leave them with the sense that what theyíre saying is right.

I work for an oil company. You have a few choices.

You laugh at them, which isn't very nice; you inform them politely just how much value your industry adds to their daily lives and invite them to try and do without it; or you take them at face value and get really, really concerned about possibly having made a pact with Satan when you thought you were just signing paperwork to change your insurance now that open enrollment is here.
Title: Re: When you apparently work for Evil Inc.
Post by: Virg on November 09, 2012, 12:53:44 PM
hobish wrote:

"It sounds like EHellions could form our own little Evil Empire"

Wait, we haven't yet?  I thought that was in the fine print on the signup page.  I mean, there's even a "Hell" in the name!

Virg
Title: Re: When you apparently work for Evil Inc.
Post by: miranova on November 09, 2012, 07:29:31 PM
I can certainly think of a few careers that I do actually find to be immoral/unethical etc.  There are some careers that exist that are distasteful enough to me that I don't think I could be friends with someone in that line of work.  To be clear, the things I'm thinking of are nothing like the examples in this thread, but examples do exist.  However, and this is a big however, there would be no reason to ever express my distaste to anyone in that line of work.  If we aren't going to be friends anyway, then I can say "how interesting" and change the subject when I hear what they do and simply not be friends with them.  It's that simple.  I don't know why anyone feels the need to INFORM someone that their entire career is wrong. 

I have to laugh at some of the examples in this thread.  I was definitely imagining something much worse than photo retouching.  I'd like to know the jobs of the people making these judgements.  They can't all be handing out soup to the homeless all day long.  Every industry has its share of controversy.
Title: Re: When you apparently work for Evil Inc.
Post by: Sirius on November 10, 2012, 12:25:22 PM
I have people telling me my job is being rendered obsolete by computers.  Not yet it isn't.
Title: Re: When you apparently work for Evil Inc.
Post by: JennJenn68 on November 10, 2012, 10:02:08 PM
Oh, lordy, I understand this... My poor DH works for an oil/gas company.  He seems to say the same thing all the time--"I work for EvilOilCompany but I have nothing to do with setting the price of gas and in fact work in a completely different part of the industry."  Sometimes it helps; sometimes it doesn't.  He's learned to be pretty laid-back about it and is the type of guy who will just walk away from someone who decides to be rude to him.  (And I mean "walk away".  When the other person is in mid-rant.  Have I mentioned that I love him completely and worship the ground he walks on?  More people should do this.  Do not engage the crazy, at all.  Walk away and maybe, just maybe, they will clue in that there is someone whose buttons they cannot push...)

Sometimes, ignoring and walking away is the only solution.  It's not rude when the other person is acting like a spoiled toddler who must have agreement or he will stamp his widdle foot and pout.
Title: Re: When you apparently work for Evil Inc.
Post by: faithlessone on November 11, 2012, 06:17:25 AM
I think there are some people out there who can find something negative to say about any profession. Even in the case of some jobs, which have got a bad rap either generally or specifically, it's rare to find a person on the lower rungs who has any say in how that business is run. And the straight fact is that without these big, BAD industries (banking, oil, journalism, taxes etc.) society would collapse.

I have a friend who's fiance is in investment banking. He's only a fairly recent graduate, and he's still mostly at the filing/fetching coffee/data-inputting stage. But ask him, and he'll tell you all sorts of horrible things that people have said to him. His advice is just to let it roll off you. 9 times out of 10, the people who insult you don't know what they're talking about.
Title: Re: When you apparently work for Evil Inc.
Post by: whiterose on November 11, 2012, 06:36:55 AM
I have people telling me my job is being rendered obsolete by computers.  Not yet it isn't.

When I was in upper elementary school, I had said that I wanted to be a cartoon animator. Class bully said "that is done by computers now". Well, guess what, I have friends who are animators. Someone has to design the cartoons using the computers.

I am a librarian now. Libraries and librarians have not been rendered obsolete by the internet either.

Title: Re: When you apparently work for Evil Inc.
Post by: KimberlyM on November 12, 2012, 11:44:16 AM
I understand this completely.  I work for an ambulance chaser, I hear it all the time, but, it's a paycheck.
Title: Re: When you apparently work for Evil Inc.
Post by: #borecore on November 12, 2012, 01:15:26 PM
Mass media, finance and law -- I guess my plan is to hit all the hated career paths in one lifetime.
 
I mention my journalism background and I get 10 minutes of everything that's wrong with politics, crime, celebrity culture and so on, as well as news-outlet-I-never-worked-for hate.

I mention finance, and it's, "Why would you work for scum-sucking people out to destroy the good people?"

I mention going to law school, and I get tales of how crazy and dumb lawyers are.

And I laugh through it all.
Title: Re: When you apparently work for Evil Inc.
Post by: AustenFan on November 12, 2012, 02:55:51 PM
Don't forget insurance. Apparently people in insurance are so evil we use Hell as our recruitment centre.
Title: Re: When you apparently work for Evil Inc.
Post by: Flora Louise on November 13, 2012, 01:24:51 PM
When I was about 5 years old, I asked my dentist (who I honestly really liked), "How can you be a dentist?   Isn't it gross to put your fingers in people's mouths all day?"

He replied by asking me calmly, "What do you want to be when you grow up?"  I said, "A writer."  He said, "But isn't that gross to write stories about people all day?"

The irony was lost on me.  But I realized that I had said Something Bad.   And my mom later explained to me how what I said was very rude!
. . . 

Your five year old self was channeling Cole Porter!

"If you become a doctor people face you with dread,
If you become a dentist they'll be glad when you''re dead . . ."

From Be A Clown
Title: Re: When you apparently work for Evil Inc.
Post by: alis on November 13, 2012, 02:00:10 PM
Husband and I both use general terms and change the subject.

I'm a stay at home mom (true) and he works in childcare (he's a police officer - it's the same thing - because I used to and called myself a babysitter too when I didn't know people HAH).