Robin's Reviews > On the Clock: What Low-Wage Work Did to Me and How It Drives America Insane

On the Clock by Emily Guendelsberger
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really liked it
bookshelves: kindle-drc, industry-insiders, narrative-nonfiction, best-of-2019

Listen up. Next time you need to talk to a customer rep to dispute a billing charge, inquire about a change in service, or just complain about a lack of good service, chances are you are chatting with someone in a call center who is not at all associated with the company you are doing business with. One of the important lessons I learned from this book is to never ever get mad at a customer rep again unless they are rude.

OK, so now that's off my chest, here is what I thought about this book: I was captivated. Ever since Barbara Ehrenreich's "Nickel and Dimed," I have been fascinated with the inner workings of just about any industry or job. I've read in-depth reports about hotels, restaurants, the sugar beet industry, Walmart associates, Applebee's expediters, and those who deliver all of those packages via UPS.

So I was excited to read about this journalist's report on working for Amazon (it's horrible on the body), a call center (she worked with AT&T customers and it is as bad as it sounds), and a busy McDonald's in the heart of San Francisco (there's a reason the restaurants always seemed short-staffed). Guendelsberger reports on the tasks, working conditions, co-workers, and management, and there is no detail too small for her to ignore. She also incorporates a bit of labor history and even some evolutionary science on stress and the body.

There were a few times I thought passages could have used a little more editing but I wouldn't hesitate to recommend this anyone interested in today's working conditions for many of the hardworking people in the U.S.

For other similar books, try Jessica Bruder's Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century, Alex Frankel's Punching In: The Unauthorized Adventures of a Front-Line Employee, and Heads in Beds: A Reckless Memoir of Hotels, Hustles, and So-Called Hospitality.

[Personal note: In the first chapter, the author talks about the term "in the weeds," which means being so far behind nothing can be done to catch up. That really resonated as I still have the occasional nightmare about my experiences as a server.]

Thanks to the publisher for the advance digital reading copy.
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Reading Progress

April 19, 2019 – Shelved
April 19, 2019 – Shelved as: to-read
April 19, 2019 – Shelved as: kindle-drc
April 19, 2019 – Shelved as: industry-insiders
August 13, 2019 – Started Reading
August 17, 2019 – Finished Reading
August 21, 2019 – Shelved as: narrative-nonfiction
November 9, 2019 – Shelved as: best-of-2019

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