Working-Life Stories

Authored by: Karolina J. Dudek

The Routledge International Handbook on Narrative and Life History

Print publication date:  October  2016
Online publication date:  October  2016

Print ISBN: 9781138784291
eBook ISBN: 9781315768199
Adobe ISBN: 9781317665717


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‘Let me tell you a story about me and my dad and my brother. We go ice fishing every November,’ says a policeman while trying to explain a decision of his to a subordinate by sketching a parallel. ‘Oh, shit,’ the subordinate comments insolently, dissatisfied with his boss’s refusal to support his plan. ‘Just listen to me,’ the boss continues, ‘You keep each other warm, you drop a line and you just wait. When my brother says: “Let’s go in October,” he wants to go ice fishing in October. My dad says: “No the ice is too thin.” My brother says …’ The younger policeman interrupts; ‘I know what you’re saying. Your brother went down on the ice, the ice was too thin, your brother fell through the ice into the water, because he was too eager. And you are saying I am too eager. Is that what you’re saying?’ The boss denies this. ‘What are you saying?’ asks the younger policeman impatiently. ‘We’ll finish the ice story another time, young man,’ concludes the boss, and he tells the policeman to get down to work. The quoted conversation, a scene from the award-winning film American Hustle (2013), illustrates perfectly the role of stories in working life. Narrative is used here as a parallel, as a device that gives meaning to everyday tasks and actions.

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