I am reading On the Clock, a 2019 expose by journalist Emily Guendelsberger about blue-collar employment at companies like Amazon and McDonald’s.
I feel qualified to toss in a few opinions about this book. After working more than 30 years in the white-collar publishing world, I’ve spent the past five years doing low-wage warehouse work. (Don’t ask why; that’s another story, although it does not involve prison). You can safely say that I’ve experienced two vastly different American work settings.
Guendelsberger’s book is illuminating. It should be required reading for anyone who has only experienced the realm of the college-educated worker bees. Here are a few of my early impressions (through 80 pages) of On the Clock:
It’s a lot like Barbara Ehrenreich’s 2001 book, Nickel and Dimed. In both cases, reporters go undercover as low-skilled employees at corporate behemoths like Amazon (and at smaller venues, such as restaurants).
I do have one big issue with both books: Ehrenreich and Guendelsberger had an enormous advantage over most of their blue-collar coworkers. This advantage was psychological. Both writers knew that eventually they would escape the mind-and-body-numbing routines of unskilled labor.
Toiling at McDonald’s for a month or two is nothing compared to knowing that you could well spend most of your adult life in such an environment. In Nickel and Dimed, Ehrenreich acknowledges this fact, but she downplays it. You should not do that.
I’m not far along enough into Clock to know if Guendelsberger will make the same mistake.
Aside from this shortcoming, Dimed and Clock are invaluable resources. I am convinced that college-bred, often pampered, white-collar America will learn something important. If they can be bothered to read the books.
The Grouch is happy to see TV journalist Liz Collin making news with her new documentary, The Fall of Minneapolis.
Rip van Dinkle is also tickled at Liz’s success. The two of them met back in 2015, when the topic of their conversation was … well, never mind.
Using the logic of this Media Matters headline, Donald Trump should never have done all those New York Times interviews, given how often the newspaper burned him.
Trump’s repeated acquiescence to Times requests for interviews was a classic example of the idiom, “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.”
Shame on Trump.
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