interview with the past

As I am preparing to face the lady on my first oral history assignment I cannot help but think that that will be a challenge for me. On the phone she sounds self-assured and quite outspoken. She is Eastern-European and from what I have gathered she was a teacher in her native country but did not like the job and moved on to work in food industry. Her previous occupation was economist, however now she works for a private company as a cleaner.

My first concern is that during the interview as time goes on and the trust is being built up I might feel tempted to reminiscent with my interviewee on the past. If that happens and I let the conversation to flow by itself, than perhaps it would lose a momentum. Actually, if the fire alarm goes off and we have to flee the premises the same thing would happen- a broken flow of the interview will be difficult to restore. To avoid such sticky situations I will plan the questions extensively.

I have observed is that the lady seem to be proactive, “hands on” type. She is definitely someone who does not like to be told what to do, her conversations with me were brisk and pretty much matter of fact. She is articulate, strong-opinionated and slightly impatient. So before the interview takes place I will have to outline the purpose of it and point to its huge value for the project to encourage her to work on it.  Most likely she will not let me have 90 minutes of her precious time even in the name of posterity! So I might try and get “Plan B” (a shorter one) ready. I will have to navigate in order to cover the most of the intended periods and topics. I may not be able to cover them all, as I may find something particularly interesting and get stuck there for longer. It is not about time management, or is it?


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