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Convention worker

Andrea worked at a bakery under a convention hotel in Chicago. The conventioneers used to drive her crazy because people act so different when they're in a crowd of their own kind.

Act Two: Dish Out Of Water

Dishwasher Pete, author of the book Dishwasher: One Man's Quest to Wash Dishes in All Fifty States, went to the National Restaurant Association convention on assignment from This American Life.

Act Three: When Worlds Collide

John Perry Barlow, a founder of the Electronic Frontier Foundation and former rancher and Grateful Dead lyricist, on an experience that began at the boundary of two conventions. (20 minutes)

Act One: Life In A Bubble

Reporter Paul Tough talks with Aaron Hsu-Flanders, an acknowledged master in the field of animal balloons, who says that artistic jealousies have ruined his life. Even in the world of latex giraffes and doggies, there are artistic rivalries and bitterness.

Act Two: Still Life

David Sedaris recounts his shameful career as a performance artist. Recorded before a live audience by KUOW Seattle.

Act Four: Grace Note

After all this doom and gloom about the difficult lives of artists, we end the show with a more hopeful story from Joel Kostman, a New York City locksmith, who tells us about an incident that happened to him on the job. Joel is author of Keys to the City: Tales of a New York City Locksmith.

Act Three: Saviors

If you work for the post office and read other people's mail, you can lose your job or go to prison. Unless you work at a Mail Recovery Center.

Act Two: Guinea Pig Zero

Ira interviews Bob Helms, creator of the zine Guinea Pig Zero, which is about people who make their living by donating their bodies to science for medical experiments. Bob says he wouldn't do spinal tap studies or psychoactive drugs (he calls the people who do the latter "brain sluts").

Act Three: Tao Of The Dumpster

Writer Dirk Jamison, who gave up a 9-to-5 job and succeeded in getting something for nothing: he decided he'd feed the family by diving into dumpsters for free food. His father's very zen attitude about this, and how it affected the family.

Act Four: Another Success Story

Hollywood is all about the idea of getting something for nothing, and no show on the subject would be complete without a Hollywood story. Writer Sandra Tsing Loh provides it.

Act Three: Car Wars

Wisconsin Public Radio wanted to do something simple: start running Car Talk, the most popular single hour on public radio. But to do this, they had to move their local car show, About Cars, from the morning to the afternoon.