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21 Dog Years

21 Dog Years

A Cube Dweller's Tale

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Boy meets dot-com, boy falls for dot-com, boy flees dot-com in horror. So goes one of the most perversely hilarious love stories you will ever read, one that blends tech culture, hero worship, cat litter, Albanian economics, venture capitalism, and free bagels into a surreal cocktail of delusion.
In 1998, when Amazon.com went to temp agencies to recruit people, they gave them a simple directive: send us your freaks. Mike Daisey -- slacker, onetime aesthetics major, dilettante -- seemed perfect for the job. His ascension from lowly temp to customer service representative to business development hustler over the course of twenty-one dog years is the stuff of both dreams and nightmares.
With lunatic precision, Daisey describes the lightless cube farms in which book orders were scrawled on Post-its while technicians struggled to bring computers back online; the fourteen-hour days fueled by caffeine, fanaticism, and illicit day-trading from office desks made from doors; his strange compulsion to send free books to Norwegians; and the fevered insistence of BizDev higher-ups that the perfect business partner was Pets.com -- the now-extinct company that spent all its assets on a sock puppet.
In these pages, you'll meet Warren, the cowboy of customer service, capable of verbally hog-tying even the most abusive customer; Amazon employee #5, a reclusive computer gamer worth a cool $300 million, who spends at least six hours a day locked in his office killing goblins; and Jean-Michele, Mike's girlfriend and sparring partner, who tries to keep him grounded, even as dot-com mania seduces them both. At strategic intervals, the narrative is punctuated by hysterically honest letters to CEO Jeff Bezos -- missives that seem ripped from the collective unconscious of dot-com disciples the world over.
21 Dog Years is an epic story of greed, self-deception, and heartbreak, a wickedly funny anthem to an era of bounteous stock options and boundless insanity.
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  • Free Press | 
  • 237 pages | 
  • ISBN 9780743244640 | 
  • June 2002
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Read an Excerpt

Chapter One: Dilettante

When Amazon went to temping companies to recruit future employees, it gave a simple directive: send us your freaks. I know this is true because the people at the temping companies, not the sharpest knives in the drawer, would tell the people they were recruiting that this was the requirement. Not that it stopped me, no sir. I might not precisely regard myself as a professional freak, but as job descriptions go it falls well within my range.

I am a dilettante. I do many things, but none particularly well. It is the art of not applying yourself, the only craft I have studied my entire life. Like so many others... see more

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