* AngstWhatAngst: Leonard Stecyk is a remarkably happy and upbeat child, considering that his mother is hospitalized, he once gets hit by a car, and that everyone despises him.
* HighOctaneNightmareFuel: The death of [[spoiler: Chris's father. He gets his arm caught in the door of a Chicago subway train, and is dragged across the length of the station and through hordes of Christmas shoppers before getting dismembered.]]
* MostAnnoyingSound: The IRS and US Air Force recruitment offices share the same storefront, and an orchestral version of ''The Wild Blue Yonder'' is constantly blaring in the background. The IRS recruiter is noticeably afflicted with spastic facial jerks and grimaces.
* NauseaFuel: David shows up again later in Wallace’s first ride out to the IRS Peoria facilities. By the time Wallace gets there, the whole left side of his suit is drenched in sweat.
* ParanoiaFuel: David Cusk's introductory chapter runs completely on this. He is extremely self-aware of his excessive sweating, and everything he does reflects his fear of it. He has to gain full control of his emotions, lest he suddenly panic and start sweating. He can't raise his hands to be excused from class, because that would draw attention. Nor can he sit in certain areas of the classroom, because someone might see him.
* TearJerker: Chris Fogle's relationship with his parents.