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Act Two: Not Far From The Tree

Amy O'Leary tells the story of a software writer at Apple Computer whose job contract ends, but he refuses to go away. He continues to show up at work every day, sneaking in the front door, hiding out in empty offices, and putting in long hours on a project the company canceled.

Prologue

Host Ira Glass talks to This American Life contributing editor Jack Hitt about the time he hacked into his employer's computer and found out what he didn't want to know.

Act Three: Mystery Shoppers

They are ordinary people who go undercover in coffee shops and chain stores, spying for The Man. This American Life producer Lisa Pollak reports.

Act Four: Stop Bugging Me

What do you do when you think your apartment is being bugged? You call the apartment de-buggers. It's a weird job; still, someone's got to do it. This American Life producer Jane Feltes goes on a counterespionage mission.

Prologue

When Ira heard that Cathy La Luz, the best public school teacher he'd met during all his years of education reporting, was considering leaving her job, he went to see her in her classroom.

Act Two: 2004

We continue with the story of Irving Elementary, and hear what's happened to make Cathy La Luz think about quitting. In just nine months, the reforms that had made the school a model began to unravel.

Act One: 1994

Washington Irving Elementary School became a model of school reform in Chicago a decade ago. The school did it without adding a ton more money.

Prologue

It seems apples for the teacher is a bygone tradition. Host Ira Glass talks to Mindy, a first-grade teacher, about the rather racy gifts her students give these days at Christmas.

Act Two: Hank

A former military man, Hank was hired by Custer Battles to clean up one of its other Iraq operations, guarding businessmen. He has a very clear idea of who he wants working for him: "flat-bellied, steely-eyed professionals." Instead, he's trying to tighten up a outfit whose workers once engaged in an extended firefight at a Baghdad hotel—against each other.

Act Five: Karen

Karen Hahn, who works for Custer Battles at the airport, started out there screening women passengers—and learned a lot from their handbags. Unlike most people Nancy met in Iraq, Karen is not a former military person, she doesn't work with guns or big machines, and she's never been happier in her life.

Act Six: Cops

Hundred of Iraqi police officers have been killed since the United States invaded Iraq. One Boston cop, Jerry Burke, is trying to keep them on the job, and train them in Western police practices.

Act Seven: Hank Redux

Nancy finally gets Hank, the Custer Battles employee, to answer the question of whether he ever has any reservations about his mission—or the country's mission—in Iraq. (3 minutes)John Kimbrough composed original music for this week's show.

Prologue

Every day each American produces 4.8 pounds of garbage. Where does it all go? Ira talks with Robin Nagle, a anthropology professor at New York University who's been studying garbage,and says that most of us want garbage to be invisible.

Act One: Oh, Mr. San Man

The people who pick up our trash don't call themselves garbagemen. They're san men ("san" being short for "sanitation").

Act One: The Rundown

The story of one girl's mission to bring people together everywhere by eliminating small talk forever. This American Life producer Starlee Kine has been going around lecturing audiences on the subject. She encourages them to switch to a new system she's invented, called The Rundown.

Prologue

Host Ira Glass talks with Chris, who worked for a company that helped deaf people talk over the phone with hearing people. The deaf person would type what they wanted Chris to say, and Chris would say it, then type back the response from the hearing person on the line.

Act Two: Stuck Inside Of Memphis

Sal Princiatta is a New York fireman whose unit lost a lot of men on September 11th. Beth Landau was a friend of Sal's, and a couple months ago, she orchestrated a trip to Memphis for Sal and the other guys at the firehouse.

Prologue

We hear three stories of how conflicts are resolved in offices. Two of those stories come from sociologist Calvin Morrill, who studied the executive suites at a number of large companies in his book The Executive Way: Conflict Management in Corporations.