We love it. We hate it. We need it. We want it. We are not just our jobs, but we wonder who we would be without them. This is doubly true in the capital of the “What do you do?” cocktail party question. To celebrate Labor Day, we interviewed four Washington area workers about what they do and why they do it.

They had a lot to say, but we’ll let them speak for themselves.

Wendy Blum: “I just am amazed at how people survive”

Patrick Lewis: “A lot of career choices I’ve made are because I wanted to be an involved parent”

Darius A. Stanton: “I always knew I wanted to work for myself”

Neil Pradhan: “There is less of a hierarchy in American workplaces”