"One of the best books of 2019, so far." Vanity Fair
" Nickled 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
"In a timely and important look at the harsh realities of the modern American workplace, journalist Emily Guendelsberger recounts her experiences doing hourly labor all over the country: at a Louisville-based Amazon warehouse, a North Carolina call center and a San Francisco McDonald's." Laura Pearson, Chicago Tribune, 25 Hot Books of the Summer
"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
"ON THE CLOCK reads like a dystopian travelogue, the deckhand's journal from a flaming garbage barge on the shoals of late-stage capitalism. Guendelsberger's journey 'in the weeds' of low-wage America is mordantly funny, devastating and rigorous, a broadside against the exploitation of the many by the few and a warning of how easily our sociopathic economy could all come crashing down, leaving even C-suite executives to subsist on ketchup packets and worthless stock options." Jessica Bruder, author of Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century
"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 of Future Cities, and The Accident of Color: A Story of Race in Reconstruction
"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
"Guendelsberger can go from light-hearted to dead-serious on a dime, writing with a conversational, contemporary, and heavily footnoted bent...This clear inheritor to Barbara Ehrenreich's seminal Nickle and Dimed (2001) is bound to open eyes and change minds." Annie Bostrom, Booklist
"Guendelsberger's narration is vivid, humorous, and honest; she admits to the feelings of despair, panic, and shame that these jobs frequently inspire, allowing for a more complex and complete picture of the experience. This is a riveting window into minimum-wage work and the subsistence living it engenders." Publishers Weekly
"Detailed, intelligent, and well-researched, the book provides a sobering look at the inhuman world of blue-collar work while suggesting that creation of a better world starts by connecting to others who also believe 'the status quo is cruel and ridiculous.' An eye-opening, unrelenting exposé that uncovers the brutal wages of modern global capitalism. A natural choice for fans of Nickel and Dimed." Kirkus
"At turns biting, darkly funny, and infuriating, On the Clock acts as a sort of spiritual successor to Barbara Ehrenreich's seminal 2001 book Nickel and Dimed." IndyWeek
A young journalist's account of her experiences working low-wage jobs in Kentucky, North Carolina, and California over a two-year period.
When Guendelsberger lost her newspaper job in 2015, she decided to get "in the weeds" with millions of blue-collar Americans working in the service sector. Her odyssey began in Louisville, where she found seasonal work at Amazon. For two months, she walked 15 to 20 miles per day finding warehouse merchandise to fulfill online orders. The scanning gun she used to record each item also served as a countdown device to keep her perpetually on-task, and vending machines sold pain relievers for the raging body aches that came with the work. Turnover rates verged on astronomical, and while those who stayed claimed to love their job, they also called it "oppressive." The following summer, Guendelsberger headed to Hickory, North Carolina, where she took a job with Convergys, where she handled a high volume of telephone traffic while trying to avoid becoming the target of verbally abusive clients. As had been the case at Amazon, all breaks were timed down to the second, and any deviation was considered a form of theft. The author then went to work at a McDonald's in downtown San Francisco. Due to that city's efforts to increase minimum wage, her wages were "twice as much as the average McDonald's crew member," which ultimately meant little in one of the most expensive cities in America. At the mercy of a changeable work schedule, Guendelsberger dealt with never-ending lines of demanding customers every day, the worst of whom threw food at her. Detailed, intelligent, and well-researched, the book provides a sobering look at the inhuman world of blue-collar work while suggesting that creation of a better world starts by connecting to others who also believe "the status quo is cruel and ridiculous."
An eye-opening, unrelenting exposé that uncovers the brutal wages of modern global capitalism. A natural choice for fans of Nickel and Dimed.