Did you hear about the French 3M employees who took their boss hostage to try to get a better severance deal? (Apparently, they let him go last night.)
Now, why didn’t I think of that?
I’ll tell you why — I’m civilized, that’s why. Sure, I just got laid off, but I just can’t begin to identify with the kind of proletarian rage — or Gallic sense of entitlement, or whatever is being expressed here — that leads to this kind of lawlessness.
It wouldn’t even occur to me to resort to harsh words, much less violence. Not that this is violence, we’re told. Here’s an excerpt from a story during the standoff:
The stand-off, which isn’t violent, started on Tuesday when workers refused to allow plant director Luc Rousselet leave his office unless 3M sweetened severance packages being negotiated for the fired workers. Negotiations between the two sides are supposed to re-start late on Wednesday to try to find a solution.
Right. Maybe holding another person, physically, against his will isn’t technically violence, but it seems a prosecutor could make a good case for kidnapping, which in this country (to use a great Jack Nicholson line) is considered a more serious offense (I think; you lawyers correct me if I’m wrong) than simple assault. In fact, in some jurisdictions, doesn’t holding someone against his will constitute grounds for a lynching charge?
Apparently, after the workers let the boss go, negotiations on the severance were to continue. Seriously. Instead of everyone involved being hauled in and put under the jail, negotiations are to resume. What a country.
Meanwhile, workers are busting windows in Edinburgh to express their rage at a bank exec’s sweet retirement deal, so worker lawlessness is not restricted to France.
Of course, I will say that civil behavior cuts both ways. I’m parting with my newspaper amicably, and the paper is as responsible for that as I am. Robert and I received some nice tributes in the paper, and we were able to clean out our offices without armed guards standing over us. Robert tells me that another cartoonist laid off last week was told one day that he would lose his job the next, then when he came in the next morning to clean out his office, he was locked out.
As David Brent says, “Professionalism is… and that’s what I want.” Either you understand how to behave in a professional, civilized manner, or you don’t. Some companies, and some workers, don’t. Some do.