So— what do you do?

This morning, I’m thinking again about what I’d do if I had no need to earn money. It’s easy to give a fanciful answer involving charter jets, mansions, luxury goods, or endless cruise ship vacations. It’s easy to make some equally unlikely scenario involving sainthood: opening a homeless shelter or volunteering to save the rainforest.

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Why I quit working for Uncle Sam

In late 2013, I decided to quit my job at the Wage and Hour Division (WHD) of the US Department of Labor (DOL).   I’m writing about my experience and my reasons for leaving because I think that doing so reveals some possibilities about what I might do in the future. In detailing my experience here, I think I’ve also explained what some of the advantages and disadvantages of Federal employment are.

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Your mother is not your friend

My parents suddenly appeared in San Francisco one weekend in January 2006 with a desperate plea that I become more involved in their lives as my dad expected to die from cancer within the year. My residence in Sodom-by-the-Sea, so far away from them, had not been an accident, but rather where I ended up when I fled.

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The Tennessee-Alabama racist tchotchke and Confederate dreamcatcher emporium

There is a lovely road that leads out of Nashville and into the hills. Before the hills, there are suburbs all the way to Murfreesboro. Then there is a place in Manchester where they’ve widened the road to accommodate the yearly music festival there. The road climbs about thirty miles to Monteagle: from there, if the weather is good, you can look down in either direction upon Tennessee’s finest, who enforce a low 55 miles-per-hour speed limit both directions up the hill.

This road, I-24, continues then on over hills and plateaus and lakes to Chattanooga. From Chattanooga, I-75 stretches southward into the sprawl of the ten-county metropolitan Atlanta area, the residents of which are largely unable to list all ten counties. I have driven between Nashville, TN and Atlanta, GA at least once a month, on average, since I moved to Nashville in 2009. In the three years before that, I did a much longer drive from Normal, IL, that also put me on 24 from Nashville to Atlanta. All of these things I have done for the sake of taking care of family.

I know my exits on this road. I know where the rest areas are. I know where I might get good food, coffee, or cheap gas. I know where it’s fun to stop. And, most of all, I know an amazing fireworks store where they sell racist tchotchkes and memorabilia.
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Top ways to get left behind by your Uber driver

I always make a phone call to the rider to confirm his or her pickup. I’m often able to tell which ride requests I need to cancel out on before going out of my way based on how this call goes. When I’ve been wrong, the results have sometimes been disasterous.

Based on past experience, there are some rides I now know to cancel as fast as possible. Here’s how to get your ass left on the curb by your rideshare driver.

NB: In this article, I’ve changed names to protect the guilty.

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Wassup with America? Post-9/11 reflections for Stephanie

I, along with 35 other aspiring Peace Corps Trainees,spent September 11, 2001, in an airport and then in a posh hotel. (1) It was a personalized limbo, that pastel lodging, halfway between home and our new lives as PC-whatevers in the Dominican Republic.

We could turn on Miami cable and see the “planes going in and the flames shooting out.”(2) We could switch stations to change the angle, or even, given that this was Miami, to change the language between Spanish and English. Thus, our limbo was perfectly situated in between the generalized Anglophone United States from whence we were gathered, and the specific Spanishspeaking place towards which we were bound. But, in fact, we were not going anywhere fast; due to the unavailability of flights to Santo Domingo, or anywhere, for that matter, we were guests of honor in a five star hotel for a full week.
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