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21 Dog Years: A Cube Dweller's Tale

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21 Dog Years: A Cube Dweller's Tale [Paperback]

Mike Daisey
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (69 customer reviews)

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Book Description

August 26, 2003
In 1998, when began to recruit employees, they gave temp agencies a simple directive: send us your freaks. Mike Daisey -- slacker, onetime aesthetics major -- fit the bill. His subsequent ascension, over the course of twenty-one dog years, from lowly temp to customer service representative to business development hustler is the stuff of both dreams and nightmares. Here, with lunatic precision, Daisey describes lightless cube farms in which book orders were scrawled on Post-its while technicians struggled to bring computers back online, as well as fourteen-hour days fueled by caffeine, fanaticism, and illicit day-trading from office desks made out of doors.
You'll meet Warren, the cowboy of customer service, capable of verbally hog-tying even the most abusive customer; Amazon employee #5, a computer gamer who spends at least six hours a day locked in his office killing goblins but is worth a cool $300 million; and Jean-Michele, Daisey's girlfriend and sparring partner, who tries to keep him grounded, even as dot-com mania seduces them both.
Punctuated by Daisey's hysterically honest fictional missives to CEO Jeff Bezos, 21 Dog Years is an epic story of greed, self-deception, and heartbreak -- a wickedly funny anthem to an era of bounteous stock options and boundless insanity.

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In 1998, Daisey gave up his life of frequenting cafes, temping and participating in small-time theater to join an up-and-coming bookseller called Here, he offers a kind of workplace coming-of-age memoir the young hero comes to terms with his ambition, synthesizes it with his liberal arts education and finally spits it out. All the dot-com punching bags are here: the lampooning of new economy jargon, the girlfriend worrying about her boyfriend's sudden obsession with the company picnic, and jokes about What saves the book from being an exercise in shooting fish in a barrel is Daisey's sharp eye: he renders even banal corporate moments with energy and wit. (On a clueless colleague: "No one does tai chi at ten am in front of their coworkers around a coffee kettle unless they want to be hated.") Class-conscious to the point of obsession he has ambivalent thoughts about his "startlingly sharp, attractive" managers and dreams of "social hacking" his way into becoming a Net executive Daisey flirts with a broader social critique of bourgeois values. Still, his incessant flippancy blocks real insight. At the end, when an imaginary e-mail to CEO Jeff Bezos turns unexpectedly vicious, readers may wonder how a man so aware of and so glib about his employer's flaws comes to play the role of the exploited proletarian. Still, Daisey's talent for the punch line, along with his facility for sketch comedy, makes the book an enjoyable, if unedifying, experience, like an afternoon playing foosball.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal may have made many mistakes since it opened its e-doors for business, but the one it made in hiring Daisey to do "customer service" in 1998 continues to haunt the company in a big way. Daisey is a writer, playwright, and actor who has mined his employment experience at to produce, first, a one-man show and now a memoir recounting his life as an Amazonian. His vignettes and anecdotes, while at times sophomoric, are quite funny, especially his explanation of how his book got its canine title: "Conventional wisdom held that Amazon Time was equivalent to dog years, which meant that one actual human year equaled seven Amazonian ones." Daisey started his dot-com job in 1998, responding to telephone orders as a "phone monkey." His description of the "freaks" he worked with, the "gothic" work environment itself, and the crazy incoming calls make for hilarious reading. Additionally, Daisey's amusing reflections on Amazon founder Jeff Bezos portray someone who seems remarkably disengaged, even when his company's stocks are falling. After getting promoted to an equally unsatisfying regular office job, Daisey finally quit, cashing in his stock options. This is an eye-opening testament as to how truly dysfunctional a dot-com can get. Recommended for all nonfiction collections in public libraries. Richard Drezen, Washington Post/New York City Bureau
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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