I hesitate to call Mike Daisey’s book profound but it’s certainly got a lot more depth than most corporate bitching books. 21 Dog Years is actually a love story of sorts — of how self-confessed slacker Daisey fell for the shiny dream of new start-up Amazon and the charisma of Jeff Bezos which somehow sustained him through 16 hour days in the windowless hellholes of customer service.
Daisey holds back little in describing the flight path of his infatuation — from giddy ascent to smoke ‘em if you got ‘em nosedive. 21 Dog Years is lean and mean prosewise and has numerous smile raising sentences. (On surveying his huge stash of stolen office goods: “I felt like a dragon in a bad fantasy novel”). It’s Daisey’s humour — by turns self-deprecating and refreshingly vicious about those around him — which gives him a real insight into the absurdity of working at Amazon. He comes across not so much as bitter and twisted as simply bewildered. When all business logic is turned upside down and everyone pretends not to notice, it starts to do something to your own sanity, however hard you try to fight it.
21 Dog Years makes me feel like writing a memoir of my own time at a multinational blue chip funded company which managed to spend 1.5 billion euros in two years without even a vague gesture towards making a profit. And then shut down. But in terms of dot com disillusion and Dilbert moments, Daisey’s book would be a hard act to follow.