There have been a lot of stories in the French press lately about employees (specifically at France Telecom) committing suicide. So far, there have been 23 suicides of France Telecom employees since February 2008. Many of them take their lives at their offices, so there is no question that job stress is the culprit. Part of it appears to be corporate restructuring, where people are transferred to another area, while their families are forced to stay behind. Clearly, it’s an idea that doesn’t work to create happy marriages or happy families.
Still, you read about things like this, but it’s always happening to someone else. But this week we read about a UPS deliveryman killing his boss, the boss’s adult son and himself at the depot in Toulouse. Now, unlike in the States, in areas like ours, companies like UPS, DHL and FedEx use subcontractors, as there wouldn’t be enough business to have big, individual depots all over.
It turns out that the shooter was the very same deliveryman who delivers all of our Black Coat Press books to our associate in Pamiers! I really think this is the first time that I’ve had such a close “connection” to a story in the news. Our friend Philippe, who has met this delivery guy many times said he was always nice, pleasant and helpful. What’s shocking is that the people at the delivery company said the same thing! This isn’t one of those cases where everyone seemed to KNOW that there was a problem. Nobody knew ANYTHING in advance!
And, because this is a smaller, regional company, it is a very personal tragedy for the victims’ families. The wife of the man who was killed ran the business with him, and their son, also a victim, worked with them. Their daughter had already been seriously injured in 2001 at a huge, chemical plant explosion in Toulouse that was a major area tragedy.
This is truly unusual in France, where you just don’t see as many violent personal acts as we’ve become used to in the United States. I don’t really know what it says about French society, if it says anything, other than that tragedies occur all over and we need to try to understand why they happen if we’re going to stop them.
On a less violent note, there has been a mystery happening here in the Possum Kingdom. For the second time in about 2 months, a clearly angry local (probably a farmer) has “attacked” various financial institutions in the middle of the night, decorating the doors and windows with horse manure! Last time he only hit the Credit Agricole and the Groupama. Last night he hit both of those as well as the Post Office (which is also a bank) and the Trésor Public (across the street from us). The Gendarmes are on the case and I think that the Post Office has a camera out front so the perpetrator may not remain a mystery for long.
Clearly, people are in an unsettled state of mind. I hope things calm down soon for everyone!
Ciao for now.