Sunday, October 24, 2010

A Thick Story

I went to a workshop in New Orleans last weekend and, among other things,  heard  about "thin" stories and "thick" stories.  Thin stories are stories about other people, and tend to be short on detail, on understanding what was really going on, on meaning.  Thick stories are about ourselves, what we wanted, meant, hoped for...much more useful.

With that in my mind, when the New Orleans cab driver started in on stories of rape and murder in the convention center during Katrina, thin stories and not even mostly true ones, I interrupted to ask him about his own  experience of the hurricane crisis...and he had an extraordinarily story to tell.

Although he lost his home and everything in it, he feels very lucky, because he had homeowners insurance and had an easy time getting both emergency money and re-building money for his destroyed home.  Most of his neighbors were not so fortunate.  Warming up to his own story, he told us that he had been a manager at WalMart at the time, and had evacuated to Baton Rouge.  When he presented himself to the management at WalMart, they saw to it that he was paid his salary and then, headquarters sent him back to New Orleans as soon as it was possible to return, deputized to find as many former WalMart employees as he could and issue them checks for $2,000.  He remembered with pleasure that he had been empowered to be helpful to others in that difficult time.  

That was a story worth hearing, thick as molasses...and it's still sticking to me! 

1 comment:

WiseLalia said...

Good story! Nice to see some positive news about the much-maligned Wal-Mart, and to see the victim become a returning hero!