- Announcing: War Stories
- Steve’s War Story: It’s All Going To Burn
- Tamara’s War Story: What the Hell? Don’t you knock?
- Tell Us Your War Story
- Vanessa’s War Story: DDoSed in Vegas
- Dan’s War Story: Focus, no matter what!
- Priya’s War Story: Taking empathy to a whole new level
- Tom’s War Story: Go with the flow
- Mary Ann’s War Story: Be Prepared
- Leo’s War Story: No, We Really Meant the User
- Nicolas’ War Story: Do you want me to act?
- Diane’s War Story: Interrupted Interview
- Kelly’s War Story: Pictures are language independent
- Susan’s War Story: The trust dance
- Gavin’s War Story: It’s 4:00 a.m., Do You Know Where Your Ethnographer Is?
- Dan’s War Story: Shanghai Surprise
- Fumiko’s War Story: Goodbye cruel world
- Greg’s War Story: Taking notes, getting detained (sort of)
- Jon’s War Story: Beware of Trap Doors
- George’s War Story: Skyfall (or A View to A Kill)
- Lisa’s War Story: When Rapport Goes Too Far
- Sean’s War Story: Pockets full of cash
- Francoise’s War Story: Black glances cast our way
- Brandon’s War Story – CATastrophe
- Greg’s War Story: Biting off more than I can chew
- Michael’s War Story: The glass is more than half full
- Raffaella’s War Story: Learning to deal with expectations
- Greg’s War Story: Culture shock
- Elaine’s War Story: I thought my client was going to die
- Dennis’s War Story: Negotiating between sympathy and empathy
- Debbie’s War Story: Sometimes Ignorance is Bliss
- Carla’s War Story: A dirty diaper sitting in the mud
- Apala’s War Story: Whose side is the researcher on?
- Jaimes and Aico’s War Story: Sumimasen!
- Elysa’s War Story: Keep The Swiffer On Your Right
- Sharon’s War Story: Broken Windows Theory
- David’s War Story: Footloose
- David’s War Story: Suit yourselves
- Prasad’s War Story: Skin in the game
- Daria’s War Story: Human Thresholds
- Jen’s War Story: Trust your gut, it can save your life!
- Ryan’s War Story: Enthusiasticus Interruptus
- Valerie’s War Story: Rank order
- Rachel’s War Story: Subject Matter May Be Inappropriate
- Cordy’s War Story: A Crisis of Credibility
- Marta’s War Story: On confronting judgement
- Whitney’s War Story: Stories of War
- Kavita’s War Story: Managing money, oh joy!
- Ilona’s War Story: First Stop the Bleeding!
- Elaine’s War Story: They call me Mister
- Tom’s War Story: House Rules
- Alicia’s War Story: Don’t hate on a tinkler
Ethnographer Mary Ann Sprague is forced to improvise when one slip changes her plan.
I have always taken great care and a certain amount of pride in always being on time and prepared for field sites and interviews. I thank my mentors for instilling this in me early on. I always made sure I had charged video and audio equipment, discussion guides, contact information, notebooks, extra writing implements, and power cords to carry on despite any possible problems. There have been the occasional failed battery, but I always had a spare, or my coworker had one. It’s never been a serious setback until this spring.
I was meeting my coworker at an elementary school for a teacher interview. Teacher free time is at a premium so I made a point of being on time and prepared to maximize the time we have together. On this occasion I arrived at the school parking lot a few minutes early, so I turned off my car and pulled out my iPhone to check messages. I did a mental check that I had everything in my backpack in the passenger seat. Everything was in order, so I relaxed for a couple minutes.
Just before the meeting time, I put my phone in my pocket, got out of the car, and hit the door lock. I walked around to grab my backpack and the door was locked. No problem I thought, I’ll go back to the driver’s side and unlock it. The driver’s door was locked, and the keys were still in the ignition with my equipment, questions and paper still locked in the car!
I called my husband and he agreed to drive home (luckily it wasn’t too far) to get my spare keys and deliver them (but still a good 40 minute wait). I went into the school to meet my coworker. She had relied on my previous level of preparation and had a notebook, but without the questions or any recording equipment.
Not wanting to reschedule, we met with the teacher. Luckily, the teacher had printed the list of questions I had emailed. I was frustrated because I didn’t want to miss any part of this conversation. The teacher was a wealth of information, but the information came out at warp speed and I worried about being able to keep up.
Thinking about what I had with me, I realized I had my iPhone, so I recorded the entire conversation using the voice messages app and took several pictures, as did my coworker, using our phones. I wrote my notes on the back of the question sheet from the teacher and we had a very interesting discussion. My husband met us in the parking lot just as we left our interview.Later, I was able to retrieve the audio through iTunes and convert it to listen on my PC.
Everything worked out in the end, but it was a shock to my confidence. I have since begun looking at other apps to capture audio on my iPhone so I have a better backup plan for the future, and my coworker now carries audio equipment at least so we are always prepared.