September 5, 2003

Allure of the Mean Friend

What is it about them, our mean friends? They treat us badly, they don't call us back, they cancel plans at the last minute, and yet we come back for more. Popular bullies exist in business, politics, everywhere. How do they stay so popular?


We hear kids recorded at Chicago's Navy Pier and at a public swimming pool, talking about their mean friends. Host Ira Glass interviews Lillie Allison, 15, about the pretty, popular girls who were her best friends—until they cast her out. (5 minutes)
Act Two

Does Niceness Pay?

In which we conduct a little scientific experiment—on tape, with hidden microphones—about whether niceness pays. We wire two waitresses with hidden microphones. They're superfriendly to half their tables; and aloof to the other half. They examine their tips to see which generates more profits. Thanks to owners Jason Hammel and Lea Tshilds and the staff at the Lula Cafe in Chicago's Logan Square neighborhood. (10 minutes)


“Untied” by Tallulah
Act Three

And What's Going On With You?

A case study in every word from a friend meaning its opposite. An excerpt from the short story "The Underminer." A book based on the story is forthcoming from Bloomsbury USA. The story was written by Mike Albo and Virginia Heffernan. (4 minutes)