'So What Do You Do?': A Reading List


“So what do you do?” is one of the most commonly asked questions at parties. Here: four first-person accounts of folks working in different industries.

1. TSA Screener: “Dear America, I Saw You Naked.” (Jason Edward Harrington, Politico, January 2014)

Those full-body scanners? They don’t work. One TSA agent is speaking out.

2. Abortion Counselor: “Private Ceremonies.” (Patricia  O’Connor, Vela Magazine, May 2013)

Patricia counsels women who choose to have abortions. So what happens when she is pregnant?

3. Apple Store Employee: “Believers.” (J.K. Appleseed, McSweeney’s, January 2014)

Are you a “Genius” or a “Creative?” The pressure’s on to choose which track to take in the Apple store. (Appleseed’s series won McSweeney’s annual column contest.)

4. Warehouse Wage Slave: “I Was a Warehouse Wage Slave.” (Mac McClelland, Mother Jones, March 2012)

It’s not as bad as it sounds. It’s worse. In a small town, McClelland goes loosely undercover at a huge processing and shipping plant where employees are expected to work over 10 hours a day on their feet with strict penalization and low wages.


Photo: Dan Finkelstein

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Emily Perper writes, reads, and edits in the DC 'burbs. She devours longform journalism, particularly those pieces involving faith, feminism and queer things. She is the editor-at-large of The Annual, a bimonthly humor magazine, and she contributes weekly to Longreads. Ask her to write a thing for your publication, or edit something, or walk your dog.
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