Robert Simonson | August 6, 2015
I recently returned from a business trip to Paris and London. Such trips invariably include a comical/tragical interaction with the customs agents. I write about cocktails and spirits for a living. So when I say I’m in their country on business and they ask what kind of business, I have to explain that my “business” is to visit a great many bars and try a large number of drinks.
I’ve learned to do this deadpan, with a completely straight face. Rakishness is not a good pose to take with customs agents. But it does no good. The agent always gives a knowing smile, sometimes accompanied by a wicked little laugh, as if we’re now both in on some private joke. And he says something like, “Now, that’s my kind of research.”
Having a job like mine means countless uncomfortable exchanges like that. “What do you do?” is usually the second or third question you get from a stranger after meeting them. After I tell them, the reaction come in two phases. First there is a kind of mild amazement and delight. “That’s your real job?” Et cetera.
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