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Posted at 8:34 AM ET, 02/23/2011

Story pick: Bullet holes in the bumper

By Annys Shin

Dangerous occupations make for good stories because they present a situation where the tension is built in. Just the answers to the questions, "Who takes these jobs?" "Why?" and "Will they survive the day?" are compelling. There's a sense of urgency that rarely materializes when, say, the printer runs out of toner, or no one within a five-cubicle radius has a stamp. Danger, or at least the constant threat of death, are why we can watch endless iterations of cop shows and emergency room dramas, or tune in to watch a bunch of guys on a boat in the Bering Sea fishing for Alaskan king crab.

Slate's Sarah Topal writes of another perilous occupation: being a truck driver who ferries supplies to U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan.

The war is deeply unpopular in Pakistan. But the men who are willing to take on this assignment earn $300 a month in a country where most people live on less than $2 a day.

They must lie to their wives and neighbors about what they do for a living and live in constant fear of threats from the Taliban.

As Topol writes:

Although the truckers don't pay for any damage the trucks suffer if they are attacked, they also don't get compensated if they're injured on the job. "If we die, our families don't even get a coffee," Dilshad says, chuckling ruefully. He describes letters arriving at his house in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province (formerly known as the North-West Frontier province), warning him that he is a marked man and commanding him to halt his work. The dozen other drivers gathered around us nod in agreement. They have all received the same letters.

Not the sort of gig where anyone feels like observing Take Your Daughter to Work Day. Disgruntled cube dwellers, take note.

By Annys Shin  | February 23, 2011; 8:34 AM ET
Categories:  Story Picks  
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