1. Would I approve of this story if one of my family members or friends were the main character?.
I used to do a tour that went to one of the famous (or infamous…) “dollar dumpling spots” in NYC’s Chinatown*.
The woman who worked the shop was a bit of a character, and not super friendly, nor welcoming to my guests.
So I made it a gimmick (or a ‘shtick’ as we say in NYC).
I would gather guests around on the corner before her shop and give them the ‘warning’;
“Ok, so now we’re going to meet the dumpling lady and I just want to warn you now…she’s not always in the best of moods.
Our goal is NOT to piss off the dumpling lady, so here’s the plan…when we walk in, go directly to a seat, don’t stand in the aisle, and keep your voices down…”
My guests thought it was hilarious.
And it elevated the moment by creating anticipation about this ‘fierce dumpling lady’ I had built up.
As a bonus it also got my guests to be quiet and orderly while in the tiny dumpling shop…
But what if that ‘dumpling lady’ was my Mom? Or an Aunt?
How would I feel if I overheard some random guide telling that story about her outside the shop?
What if instead, I had taken the time to get to know more about her. Learned her name, her history?
Through ethical storytelling, I could have told powerful stories of how she opened this shop back when it wasn’t common to see female restaurant owners.
Or how she used the recipe her mother used to make back home before she came to the USA…
Equally entertaining stories, and arguably more impactful.
*Interested in the dumpling place next time you’re in NYC?
Shoot me an email & I’ll be happy to give you directions. Please give that woman your money, she works incredibly hard & her dumplings are delicious.