Serendipity and flexibility in social science research: Meeting the unexpected. Part 1 Living the research: There are ways and then there are ways: Conducting research in social settings in Japan; ‘On the mop-floor’: Researching employment relations in the hidden world of commercial cleaning; Drinking with Dessie: Research, mines and life in the Pilbara. Part 2 Access for research: Combating information suspicion: Guinness, sports and glassblowing; What lies beneath: The pleasures, pain and possibilities of focus groups. Part 3 Interviews as a method: Looking through the haze of discontent: Smokers as a data source; Interviewing men: Reading more than the transcripts; Establishing rapport: Using quantitative and qualitative methods in tandem; Wrong way, go back! Negotiating access in industry-based research; A sporting chance: Workplace ethnographies, ethics protocols and playing by the rules. Part 4 Preparing and responding throughout the project: Sitting on a wall in Northumberland crying: Semi-structured interviews; Researching train-based working; A story about being engaged in research: Buzzing bees, small business and Australian unfair dismissal laws; Lessons learnt from this madness.