Goodbye for Now


Today is the third birthday of this site. It started as an outgrowth of our career group, and turned into a place to talk about the personal backstories behind big life choices. We’ve devoted hundreds and hundreds of happy hours to it in that time, writing pieces, recruiting and editing guest authors, and making it into a site we were proud of. And now we have some news to share, which is that we’re going to stop publishing Small Answers (at least for now). (read more…)

“You’re going to grow up to be a lonely old man”

Ernest Shackleton Endurance

“Growing up, my mom was worried about my antisocial tendencies. I mean she would literally say, frequently, ‘You’re going to grow up to be a lonely old man’ when she was upset with me for being bad. And that never had an impact on me! But then I saw what a lonely old man looked like. And that did have an impact. It seemed pretty horrible.”

Have you ever been friends with someone you didn’t even like? Tim was just 13 years old, and doing tech support to make spending money, when he met Allen, a 70 year old retiree with no family. Allen was alone in the world, and while he did want help with his computer, he mostly needed someone to talk to. Though more than 50 years Allen’s junior, Tim became a reluctant friend and listener in a one-way friendship that went on for more than 15 years. In many ways, Tim didn’t even like Allen – but if you spend enough time with someone, in a strange way you do come to care about them. (read more…)

“Do I Have it Figured Out?”


When you grow up witnessing your dad beat your mom, does that shape what you do with your life? Saeeda Hafiz focused on school, going to college and landing good job in banking… only to realize that this wasn’t for her. She started taking cooking and yoga classes, and was captivated by the power of holistic living to nurture and heal her. (read more…)

“I found something”

Oscar Shlemmer

Typical conversations about what makes work fun and teams cohesive tend to focus on novel environmental modifications. Think of all the times you’ve heard references to Google’s indoor slides, nap pods, and ping pong tables. Libraries, on the other hand, are known for being quiet, sedate, almost non-descript. But librarians make their own fun using an old-fashioned social construct: potlucks.

Librarians take potlucks very seriously, and generally the food is excellent. This, however, is a story of a potluck dish that went very wrong – and the hilarious efforts undertaken to spare the guilty party from ever knowing about it.

(read more…)

“Think about it, bitch”

Sam O' Neill Chubby & Tubby

In the late 1960s, Lucy was working as a cashier at Chubby and Tubby, an army-surplus store on Rainier Avenue in Seattle. It wasn’t a particularly nice neighborhood at the time, and the work was backbreaking; she was on her feet all day. But she had to pay for college.

It seemed like an ordinary day.

Even on ordinary days, though, there was usually a policeman on duty in the store, because all the cool little gadgets and items it carried proved an attraction for  shoplifters. The crime could have happened to anyone. But what unfolded afterward could only have happened to Lucy. (read more…)