I try to avoid asking silly questions such as "What do you do for a living?" or "Where do you live?". Some people are so sly about playing this game of 20 questions. Once, I was in a foreign country that values personal status more highly than even here in the good old USA.
"So, your father is a machinist in California?"
"No(I laugh of course because he thinks it is so clever to play 20 questions in an indirect manner.), my father is a lawyer and I'm from Seattle."
Needless to say, within a few minutes, this person needed to excuse himself to mingle with other people.I could tell that he felt intimidated; again, it serves him right for trying to play the status guessing game.They say that people in modern society play 20 questions in order to find common ground. In DC for example they also ask about the school that you attended. This is all the result of perceiving work as a major component of identity. People overlook the sad reality that one day a person's occupation becomes as important to them as before they ever conceptualized that field of work. As for school, every place whether it is ivy league or poison ivy all impart information the way that a vendor imparts peanuts at a baseball game. Again, individuals attempting to define themselves as the product of an affiliation with a high status institution. We no longer seem to be defined as John the kind and courageous father but rather John the 300,000 per year Wall Street Junior Associate with a law degree from X. I play 20 questions with artful responses. I usually say that I am a pimp of young girls or a shipper of humans. I like frequenting shelters or I say that I have a suite at the closest 4 star hotel. 20 questions is not going to succeed in insuring me against a future without social security or a future in which I may have to learn two new phrases. Social class probes only serve to alert me to someone that is so dependent on the system for their own validation that they need constant reassurance in everyday encounters of 20 questions. Whether you win or lose in 20 questions still means that you have lost your identity to the system. It is the same system that will force me to learn two innovative stock phrases.
"Hi, welcome to Mcdonald's/Burger King/Wendy's, may I take your order?"
"Hello, welcome to Walmart/Kmart/Target.