Seasonal Associate is told in a weary monotone, aptly evocative of the stultified torpor it describes. Having belatedly noticed a minor logging error she had made earlier in the day, Geissler notes that: “A small bunny will be sent out into the world with the product number of a big bunny.” Her portrayal of zoned-out apathy is perhaps a little too convincing: there is a listlessness about the prose. Relief – for author and reader alike – comes in intermittent moments of sardonic spikiness, as Geissler finds solace in gallows humour and flights of fancy.
Unlike other accounts of gig economy work, Seasonal Associate follows a fictional character, albeit one who closely resembles Geissler. The book’s protagonist is a freelance writer and translator who takes a job as a seasonal associate (how Amazon refers to its temporary workers) at a fulfilment centre to support her two children and partner. It becomes evident throughout the course of the book that this protagonist is a past version of Geissler. Told in the second person, the narrative follows the protagonist’s/Geissler’s time in the fulfilment centre, from the small acts of resistance (such as carrying a neon vest to your work station rather than putting it on immediately as you’re supposed to) to the slow creep of anonymisation, as you’re absorbed into the masses.
Geissler writes mostly in the second person—speaking to her past self, but also to the reader, as if to say, this could easily be you. She shows how workers are flattened into puppet-like role players in the dull drama of corporate capitalism, describing her Amazon self, working in the warehouse, as “simply one item on a list with breasts, ponytail, and glasses,” and as “nothing but a placeholder for machines that have already been invented but aren’t yet profitable enough to permanently replace you and your workmates.” In taking on the new position in a factory, Geissler writes, you are bound to “realize that your trouble and suffering are by no means specific to you, but astonishingly generic. Yes, you are generic; I intend to regard you as generic and introduce you to your most generic traits.”