Do you actually know what your best friends' parents do? I mean for a living? Have you ever asked them and do you keep asking (if you haven't met them yet)? Is it just not something that our generation really cares about?
I was just headed to brush my teeth and I saw in my cupboard two spare tooth-brushes. Now, I know one of them isn't mine (thankfully, I know whose it is and what it's doing there). The other one triggered a chain of associations of the strangest nature. I had acquired it as a spare one when I went to Cologne last winter to visit a very good friend who had just come back from the USA to spend Christmas with her family in Europe - Esther.
I was supposed to travel by train to Cologne, spent a couple of hours there with her and we were then supposed to travel by car back to Bremen. It was winter though - and this normally means "don't make precise plans if travelling" - even the German punctuality is not immune to train delays. And it took me about 2 hours more than planned to reach Cologne. No, wait - I didn't even reach Cologne. A part of the track (thankfully, along the final distance) was unreachable, so we were all unloaded at a local station near Cologne. So a couple of hours later and several attempts to really locate where I was and to communicate that to Esther if she could pick me up, we finally reunited: graciously, she came with the car, gave me the warmest hug, and we were on our way back to her parents' place.
It was already dark outside, cold, snowy, and icy. Travelling back for 4-5 hours to Bremen wasn't really the best of ideas no matter how big and safe the car or its Continental tyres were. So, we went to her parents' place and decided to stay there overnight and travel back the next morning. We knew each other back from the university years when we spent hours and hours playing the piano together, walking around campus, talking about guys and gals, but mostly about music. And in every conversation, we plotted the most ambitious plans for 4-hand-1-piano concerts, playing everything from Chopin's Etudes (transcribed in one shape or another), through Brahms' Hungarian Dances, to our own compositions and interpretations.
We park the car and we start walking towards a closed pharmacy. I wonder, is there some kind of a small side street for which I'd need to hold my breath (literally hold my breath)? But no - Esther pulls the keys from her pocket and gets in the pharmacy. I am delicate (I think) and didn't say "oh, I didn't know your parents ran a pharmacy", did I? I play along, I play cool. I find out, it is not something recent (i.e. I should have known about this).
Where does the tooth-brush come in? Well, it is a pharmacy they run, and I was not prepared to stay overnight because we planned to travel back. So, in the words of Esther "At least with having the pharmacy, a tooth-brush is like the easiest thing to fix you up with."
When we make new friends, our generation no longer judges the social class of the person we meet by their parents' education or working status. Back in the days, one couldn't talk to someone whose parents were not approved of by our parents. Has the complexity of the job market altered so much that it is by now difficult to describe what our parents do ("teacher" is easy but what does it mean to be "market analyst"?). When I thumb through the pictures of my friends, I am having a hard time remembering ever having a conversation with them about their parents' jobs - divorses, culture, real estate, troubles with other children, pride of their children's successes ... - sure. But their job? That's a mystery.