Work in the Tavern

Story: One story I remember, that was told to me my my father, that was told to him by my grandfather by one of his uncles, is that when George was about 10 years old and working at the tavern and he was so tired – I mean he was ten – that he sat at one of the tables one night at the very back of the tavern – so his legs were up like this so it looked like he was awake *demonstrates* – and put his head down on his arms and fell asleep. His boss found out, and sprinkled red pepper on his arm – right here *mimes* – right under his nose. When he inhaled, he inhaled the pepper which burnt the inside of his nostrils and woke him up in tears. Needless to say, he never fell asleep at work again!

Context: The informant was told these stories as bedtime stories by his father, who was handed down these stories from his father, who was told some of these stories by his father. They are stories about the informant’s great great grandfather, George, and the village he is from. The informant told these to me in person, and I recorded them to better transcribe them later.

Thoughts: When asked what this story means to them, the informant shrugs, and said they were told this story as a child, and even back then it made them want to work harder and be more like George. “He must’ve been exhausted from working so hard, right? I mean, what was I doing at ten years old?”

Analysis: Listening to this story, I was a bit shocked. My family doesn’t have any stories about our ancestors, and this informant had several! (Not all are included.) However, this struck me as folklore for the lesson that has become imbedded into it throughout the years and generations who have told them. This particular story, never put your guard down or show weakness.