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Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Slog Commenter Book Report 4: Enigma on Punching In

posted by on September 17 at 16:12 PM


As you know by now, I bring a batch of advance reader copies to Slog Happy, with the caveat that the person who reads (or tries to read) the book has to review it for all of us here on Slog.

Today’s reviewer is longtime commenter and exceedingly pleasant human being Enigma. Enigma will be reviewing Punching In: The Unauthorized Adventures of a Front-Line Employee, by Alex Frankel. Anything you don’t like about this review no doubt is due to the editing process and not at all Enigma’s fault and you should blame the editor. I am the editor.

Have you ever held a retail or customer service job? Well, Alex Frankel hasn’t! And he wants to see what it’s like to serve instead of buy. A former roommate talks about the adventures a UPS delivery driver experiences, so Frankel decides to start there. He becomes a seasonal worker and wants to quit after one week because it’s hard and he doesn’t really need the job. A friend has to convince him to stay for the integrity of the project.

And that’s how it is at every job he decides to take.

He doesn’t need the jobs, so after being trained, for maybe 2-3 weeks, at Enterprise, Gap, Starbucks and the Apple Store, he quits. He’s having some fun living how the other half lives, practically insulting the people that have to work these jobs. He discovers the best employees at these stores have bought into the corporate culture of that particular company: Starbucks employees love coffee and getting to know the people that come into their stores, Gap employees love clothes, Apple Store employees love computers.

Corporations try to mold their employees into good workers. Employees agree with the corporate culture and stay, or don’t and leave. Do you really need to go “undercover” at these stores to discover that? And Frankel makes a big deal of the fact that he is undercover. He’s not a real employee of these stores; he makes that very, very clear. He’s there to observe and judge.

The only grace I can extend to this book is its brevity. I read it in about 3 days, and I probably would have finished sooner, but a better book grabbed my attention.

Great big thanks to Enigma. Hopefully, the next Slog Commenter Book Reporter will like the book he or she decided to read. I’m starting to feel guilty for making all these people read bad books.

RSS icon Comments


That does sound lame. C'mon, enough people who want to be writers actually do work retail...

and Paul- I'm actually enjoying the book about the werewolf quite a bit.

Posted by Abby | September 17, 2008 4:19 PM

Nice review. I wouldn't have gotten past the red "Unauthorized" on the cover.

Posted by mint chocolate chip | September 17, 2008 4:28 PM

I was about to say the same thing as mint chocolate chip.

Posted by Fnarf | September 17, 2008 4:41 PM

Nice review, Enigma and kudos to you for making it through what sounds like a bunch of condescending claptrap.

Paul, I didn't mind reading the book I reviewed, but others on Slog didn't like it. I wouldn't have chosen to read it on my own, but since it snuck into my bag when I was drunk and my inhibitions were low I owed it a one night stand.

Posted by PopTart | September 17, 2008 5:06 PM

I want to do one.

Posted by elenchos | September 17, 2008 9:25 PM

Barbara Ehrenreich should punch Frankel in the nose.

Posted by inkweary | September 18, 2008 10:06 AM

And who says Sloggers aren't perfectly nice people.
Thanks all.

Posted by Enigma | September 18, 2008 3:42 PM

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