People love asking questions. Actually, that’s not really true. A lot of people prefer to just start talking about themselves, and there’s also a group of people that ask questions just so that once you’re done answering, they can tell you their answer (which is always bigger, better, more impressive). But I think it’s fair to say that most people do like to mix in a few questions when engaging in social talk with someone they’ve just met.
In the Netherlands, the favourite question usually revolves around the way you make your money: ” Hi, I’m so and so, what kind of work do you do?” If you don’t really know how to answer this, you’d be surprised how quickly they start mumbling something about going to get a drink or spotting a good friend across the room. Not that I’ve ever experienced this of course…
I guess the best answer to this question involves something that implies status, money, and hard work. Whether you like your job or not isn’t very important. Oh, and adding something like “and last month I used my annual leave to help build houses for orphans in Africa” always works well too. The more exotic the better. For example, Australia is cool because it’s sunny and far away, but really, it’s kind of ‘been there done that tell me something new’.
In Central and South America the first question is ALWAYS “where are you from?”. They will utter some positve oooh’s and aaah’s about the Netherlands, immediately followed by “what do you think of Costa Rica/Chile/Argentina/Paraguay?”. If you tell them you love it, the only question you’ll have to answer from then on is whether you’d like some more food and drinks. Yep, it’s that easy.
Here in Australia the question they ask me seems to be either how long I am here for (is it worth befriending you), or where I live (North or South of the Harbour).
On top of that, the Australians have also been asking themselves a question:
“I wonder if we can make new Uggs that are even uglier than the old Uggs…?”
“Hell yes we can!”