- File Size: 3337 KB
- Print Length: 321 pages
- Publisher: Little, Brown and Company (July 16, 2019)
- Publication Date: July 16, 2019
- Sold by: Hachette Book Group
- Language: English
- ASIN: B07K6H5235
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Lending: Not Enabled
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #204,861 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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On the Clock: What Low-Wage Work Did to Me and How It Drives America Insane Kindle Edition
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"Nickel and Dimed for the Amazon age."―Salon
"Emily Guendelsberger gives a sense of just how far we are from that dream in On the Clock, a jaunty but dispiriting memoir of her work at three low-rung jobs: at a call center, a McDonald's, and an Amazon warehouse."―Caleb Crain, The New Yorker
"The understanding that Guendelsberger brings after struggling, even in her somewhat cosplaying way, makes On the Clock the sort of exposé Upton Sinclair would have been proud of."―The Houston Chronicle
"Emily Guendelsberger's On the Clock is among the best of these new accounts of multibillion dollar corporations maximizing profit at the expense of their workforce. In Guendlesberger's case, there are some familiar villains-Amazon and McDonald's-along with a call center job, but what really separates this diaristic account is that it's funny. Which I suppose you have to be when you're doubleshifting in an Amazon warehouse a month before Christmas and the vending machines are stocked with painkillers and you don't even know if you'll have a job in the New Year. Haha!"―Jonny Diamond, Lit Hub Editor-in-Chief
"When former Onion editor Emily Guendelsberger explores how the non-college majority scrapes by, she uncovers a Darwinian hellscape where the richest man on earth munificently bestows painkillers upon his warehouse serfs, telemarketers pitch products to the newly bereaved, and the customer is always right-even when she's lobbing McNugget sauce at your head. Filled with compassion, fury, and an invigorating dose of hope, On The Clock is the laugh-till-you-cry exposé our laugh-till-you-cry nation deserves."―Daniel Brook, author of The Trap: Selling Out to Stay Afloat in Winner-Take-All America, A History o
"ON THE CLOCK is a bracing, revealing tour through realms of the low-wage economy that remain invisible to too many Americans. Emily Guendelsberger is a compelling guide into this world, recounting her experiences in prose that is both barbed and appealing. ON THE CLOCK is the NICKEL AND DIMED for our even more harried and dehumanizing times."
―Alec MacGillis, author of The Cynic: The Political Education of Mitch McConnell --This text refers to the paperback edition.
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I hope that people read this book and get a sense of not only the appalling conditions of where your "stuff" comes from or how people are treated. But that there is an actual human with feelings on the other end of that phone call you're making because your new _________ isn't working exactly how it should.
People are people. Not robots. We need to fix this.
The openness and candid humor of the author's own first person perspective "on the ground" is key, but so are the vivid personalities and stories she encounters in each of the three parts of her journey. She conveys not only her own experiences, but these vignettes and portraits as well, with no small measure of mastery; these are at are at once heartbreaking, incisive, hilarious, and ... folksy, I'd say - even Twainsian, in the very best sense.
Guendelsberger examines not only the origin of oppressive service industry policies, and the day to day reality of those who are hit hardest by them, but also explores the tragic effect these policies have on the body, making use of the scientific literature - notably referencing some of the work of Robert Sapolsky, a researcher of stress (and one of my personal faves among high profile scientists) - to great effect.
Finally, there is the depth and breadth of the book's sweeping insights about American work and society. The book ultimately deploys not only anecdote and data in its case against the planned indignity of low wage work in America, but a philosophical definition of the human as well - one which is infinitely more rich and insightful than that offered by Taylorism or "scientific management" (a hidden underpinning of how low wage service industry workers are treated, and the book's primary target.)
It is a sheer delight for me that the author does not shy away from a bigger-picture exploration of what it is to be human, both within the historical flux of work and society, and in an even larger sense. Metaphor and thought experiment are deployed in a particularly imaginative and effective way - the author takes us through all of history in a proverbial nutshell, and somehow conveys a fresh, visceral, personal engagement with the entire human story.
With this level of achievement in a first print offering, I suspect that Guendelsberger is just getting started. From where I sit (I am indeed sneak-writing this review between calls at a customer service center), I certainly hope so!
Top international reviews
The reality of working for 3 companies laid bare.
How can a post industrial society produce such working environments?
This book is a timely warning about letting people in grey suits define the world. I am glad it has been written.