When you're powerless, you think a lot about the powerful figures above you. Especially when their actions just make no sense.
In San Francisco, Andy Raskin tells a story about the spirit of invention, and the forces that want to stop it...at the dinner table.
Dawna Lentz was a new employee at Quiznos sub shop in Seattle when the franchise owners just gave up. They stopped buying supplies, stopped answering their phones.
When you're in school, you're supposed to be a Renaissance person — do art, literature, sports, music—and be enthusiastic about it all. You get graded for effort.
We continue with the story of Eddie Schmidt and his parents, Josie and Bob, who tell the greatest Aunt Mary story of all time: the one about the provolone, the glance, and an aggrieved woman's attempt at revenge.
Jonathan Goldstein with a story of the kind of preferential treatment we all dream of, where waiters routinely bring us extra appetizers on the house, delivery men throw a little something special into our take-out orders, and deli owners regularly comp us free pickles and chips. He talks with his friend Howard, who lives this dream, about all the work that went into making it a reality.
Lisa Carver's nine-year-old son, Wolfgang, was born with a rare illness that, among other things, makes it impossible for him to eat anything by mouth. He's fed through a g-tube, straight into his stomach.
For millennia, people have tried to reach a spiritual promised land by fasting. Jesus did it.
David Sedaris wishes he could take back a wish. He's the author of Me Talk Pretty One Day and other books.
Sarah Vowell introduces you to a magazine that—if you're lucky—you've never had to read. A magazine called Living Without. Her story is part of the Hearing Voices project, which gets funding from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.
Every week, Chelsea Merz has lunch with a homeless man named Matthew, in the same restaurant. Matthew's been on the street for seven years, but once or twice a year, he housesits for a friend.
Ira and his friend Danielle, whose family says they're eating fish when in fact it's turkey or chicken, for an unusual reason.
In which we conduct a little scientific experiment—on tape, with hidden microphones—about whether niceness pays. We wire two waitresses with hidden microphones.
A guy who writes under the pen name Greg Tate wrote a book called 11 Years, 9 Months and 5 Days, which is nothing more than a year-by-year account—one vignette after another—of things that happened to him in his minimum-wage job as a janitor in a fast food burger place that he calls "The Burger Store." Justin Kaufman reads surprisingly riveting excerpts. The book was self-published at xlibris.com.
What's French for French Fries? David Sedaris has been following the diplomatic fiascoes of the last few months from Paris, where he lives. Relations between France and the U.S. have been so horrible these days we asked him how it seemed from over there.
In any family, giving other people what they want becomes fantastically complicated, often because people tend to give others the things they'd like themselves. Curtis Sittenfeld explains how the drama plays out in her family, when it comes to her father's weight.
This American Life senior producer Julie Snyder explains the office politics of street vendors on the corner of Sixth Avenue and Eighth Street in New York City. With her is sociologist Mitch Duneier, who spent years working with the vendors and writing about them for his book Sidewalk.
John Hodgman first encountered Cuervo Man on a press junket to Cuervo Nation, a small island owned by Jose Cuervo Tequila. Cuervo Man was wearing nothing but a Speedo, wraparound shades, and a red cape.
Kevin Murphy is a college student in Idaho who stutters. Using the power of radio editing, he and the production staff of This American Life removed his pauses, stutters and repeats so that he could record a message the way it seems the rest of the world would like to hear him sound.
Ira talks with Lee Qi, who came to America from China. He worked in Chinese restaurants in small towns, live in tiny apartments with other illegal immigrants who worked there as well—apartments that were sometimes in the back of the restaurants.
In this act, we hear from the rowdier, drunker late-night patrons of the Golden Apple. A guy walks in with two young women, hoping to go home with one of them.
Every year, the Emerald Society, an association of Irish Chicago police officers, flies in policemen from New York City for Chicago's two big St. Patrick's Day Parades.
The story of two young people who, in their search to figure out who they were, pretended to be people they weren't. Both were from small towns; both took on false identities.