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Prologue

Host Ira Glass talks to an expert stone cutter who makes headstones. One day he got a call from a guy who wanted him to make his headstone in advance, which is not all that uncommon.

Prologue

Host Ira Glass visits the Upper East Side building in Manhattan where Peter Roach has been the super for about ten years. Peter has a lot of keys.

Act Three: Please Re-lease Me

A man who we're calling "Dennis" inherits his father's job as a landlord of a big apartment building. His dad had warned him that bad tenants could drive even a good man to become heartless, but Dennis vowed that would never happen to him. He's tested on this point when he tries to help a couple that falls behind in their rent.

Prologue

Host Ira Glass talks to Scott Shrake, who got hired for a job he was utterly unqualified for – as a German interpreter for visitors to Detroit. On his first assignment, Scott realized that not only couldn't he understand what the German tourists were saying, he didn't understand the English words he was supposed to translate.

Prologue

Marti Noxon used to work for a company that did "product placement" for the movie industry. When auditors came to check that clients were being correctly billed, the company's bosses took unusual steps.

Act Three: Confessions Of A Not-so-dangerous Mind

How NOT to get a job in U.S. intelligence: Admit to being a pervert during your job interview. Somehow, though, that's exactly what happened to a perfectly normal, nice guy who we're calling "Matt" for the purposes of this story.

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 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.

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.

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.