I don’t miss the Christmas phone shift, though

Friday, 5 December 2003

At work on my desk I had most of the things that mattered to me. I had about 250 CDs, mostly good ones that are still selling, so that was about $2,000-$4,000 there. I had a CD player, obviously. Various toys, models. A sweet reproduction of a deinonychus skull. A beautiful blue 4" high carcharodon megalodon tooth. My prized full keichousaur fossil where you can see his last meal in his little ribs and everything. A handful of trilobites, spinosaur teeth and such like and so on. My whole collection. My personal laptop. A couple hundred bucks in technical books. Any number of other irreplaceable small personal artifacts from the reliquary. All right there on my desk. In a building with 300 employees, open 24 hours a day with little or no security. The lights rarely on because the place was lighted by desk lamps and creatively strung Christmas lights and Chinese lanterns.

I never had so much as a coprolite stolen. In fact, when my Kyuss CDs disappeared, I sent a note out asking for them back. Now I have two sets of them b/c someone returned mine and someone else gave me theirs because they thought mine might have been stolen.

In 1998. That was at Amazon.com in 1998. That’s what Amazon.com was like then. Most every desk in the place was like mine. Every damn employee in the house at that time had full SQL access to everything in the store. A new customer service representative could steal or even erase the entire Amazon.com store of knowledge (till the tapes were retrieved anyway) in just a few keystrokes if one wanted and knew how. There were never any breaches of trust then. Lord, I do miss it.

Right before I left, a few months ago already, there were several laptops stolen. Various other things. It was pretty bad. Everyone was locking their offices and even their desks. A long list of managers were each caught making up to $5,000 a month in personal calls on their corporate cell-phones while kids in the trenches of actually doing things for customers now need Director level approval to get a $150 software license for something crucial to doing daily work.

I read recently that 83% of the employed are not that happy with their situation and would change it if they could. Where Amazon.com is concerned, that seems a pretty kind estimate. The abhorrent job market in Seattle is all that keeps most of the shop in their chairs.

I still have about 20 friends there, though at one point I knew at least 400 people and counted many of them friends. One of the 20 still at the ’Zon recently said it this way:

My job seems more and more like the “Shawshank Redemption”–a daily ass rape marathon that will eventually end in a big payoff.

There’s nothing I can add to that.

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