So a lot has been said about that Amazon article, and while in general I’m in the “eh, I don’t think that workplace sounds as bad as the Times says it is” (in general, I’m far more sympathetic to the warehouse workers that get a glancing mention in the NYT story than I am highly-compensated white-collar workers (though even that story is four years old — the NYT piece really could have used some more current reporting)), there is one thing that I found really jarring about the whole piece: The sheer condescension shown by the reporters about the nature of Amazon’s business. For instance, this:
A customer was able to get an Elsa doll that they could not find in all of New York City, and they had it delivered to their house in 23 minutes,” said Ms. Landry, who was authorized by the company to speak, still sounding exhilarated months later about providing “Frozen” dolls in record time.
(My wife, by the way, read this a different way — as she put it “Oh my God, 23 minutes? That’s amazing!”)
For all of the employees who are edged out, many others flee, exhausted or unwilling to further endure the hardships for the cause of delivering swim goggles and rolls of Scotch tape to customers just a little quicker.
The focus is on relentless striving to please customers, or “customer obsession” (No. 1), with words like “mission” used to describe lightning-quick delivery of Cocoa Krispies or selfie sticks.
You can practically hear Jodi Kantor and David Streitfeld screaming “Can you believe this? Look at what these people go through, all in pursuit of this meaningless activity — all this work over trivia!”
Unlike, say, journalism. But replace ‘Elsa doll’ with ‘every presidential pool report ever’ and you see that one perfession’s ridiculousness is another’s core mission. What Amazon does isn’t trite. Whatever else you think about the company, you have to acknowledge that they have truly revolutionized their field. To mock that makes you look silly and uninformed.