21 Dog Years


The comedy and drama available on Radio 4 is often much better than the offerings on TV. A few weeks ago, they had a dramatisation of Mike Daisey's 21 Dog Years: Doing Time @ Amazon.com, read by the author himself. I've just got around to listening to the recording we made of it, and I haven't laughed so much in ages. Daisey is a fantastic story-teller, and reminded me a little of Laurie Anderson in the way that he used a kind of sing-song voice and dramatic pauses and elongations of words. Daisey moves from corporate worship to complete bafflement in a year, and argues that dot.coms work on a peculiarly compressed timescale — hence the title. When he leaves the company (at the height of the dot.com boom) he plaintively admits to a head-hunter that he only knows how to play Tetris. The recruiter's insistent riposte — "But you worked at Amazon.com..." — tells you everything you need to know about that particular period. His tales of life in a cubicle rival those of Dilbert, and his method of reducing his average 'call resolution time' was worthy of Wally himself; he simply hung up on every third or fourth caller after five seconds.

Unfortunately, the play doesn't seem to be available on Listen Again now, but the book is probably worth a read.

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