From Our Listeners

Letters: 'Hidden' Jobs, Atonement, And Knuckleballs

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NPR's Neal Conan reads from listener comments on previous Talk of the Nation show topics, including underappreciated jobs, what it's like for Americans to live abroad when the U.S. is the target of civil unrest, where we find atonement, and how to pitch a knuckleball.


It's Tuesday, and time to read from your comments. Last week, we spoke with Jeanne Marie Laskas about her book, "Hidden America," and asked you to tell us about your underappreciated jobs. Dan from Cedar Rapids, Michigan, wrote: I believe that people who work for suicide and crisis hotlines or work on mobile crisis teams are rarely noticed, unless an individual or a family member uses such a service. The research on this is becoming more and more solid in validating that this work saves lives.

Karen from St. Louis emailed us: My nephew stocks the shelves at a local hospital. When he had his first child, he expressed to my sister that he felt his newly born daughter would not be proud of what her dad did. Both my sister and I told him that what he did was vital to the daily running of a hospital, and he should be as proud as anyone else working there. I'm not sure who said it, but I once heard it said that some people are arrows, some people are bows. Well, here's to the bows of the world. Without them, the arrows go nowhere.

We also talked about the difficulties people face when living abroad in conflict areas. Christina(ph) from Tucson, Arizona, wrote: For people who work in the foreign service, much like the people who work in the military, hazards and potential threat are inherent in the work. There is a reason not everyone chooses these professions. It is this element that sometimes draws people to them, and it's why some excel, and why it's not for everyone.

Finally, we spoke with Mets pitcher R.A. Dickey about the art of the knuckleball, and several of you wrote to ask: What about the catcher? Leroy Lacey(ph) sent this email, which sums it up: When I was a kid, I caught as my dad pitched. It's one of the most fond memories. However, he was a knuckleballer, and let me tell you, it is no easy task catching that ball. As I was not yet a real catcher, I did not signal the pitches, so as my dad has a good curve, as well, I had no idea where the ball was going.

If you have a correction, comment or a question for us, the best way to reach us is by email. The address is Please, let us know where you're writing from and give us some help on how to pronounce your name. And if you're on Twitter, you can follow us there @totn.

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