Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Publish Day - Ink Blog - teen murder

When some people get angry, they punch holes in the nearest wall. When I get angry, I reach for a keyboard and start to write.

The murder of a 17-year-old girl in a Montreal gas station was tragic enough. What set me off was a spokesperson for the company she worked for saying she should have kept the door locked. I was watching the news on Wednesday night when I heard the clip.

And I saw red as I reached for my PalmPilot and jotted down my thoughts. How callous of an unfeeling corporation to shift the blame to the murder victim. The cowardice angered me. Another column was born. Here's the result:
Late-night workers dying needlessly
Published Friday, January 27. 2006
The London Free Press

You’ve got to hand it to Shell Canada.

A 17-year-old girl is stabbed to death while working at a Shell station in Montreal, and the company’s first response is that she violated company policy by unlocking the front door.

Brigitte Serre’s murder early Wednesday has sparked a national debate over the widespread practice of staffing convenience and other all-night retail outlets with only one employee.

Owners, often billion-dollar conglomerates, say it would cost too much money to run late-night shifts with multiple employees.

They’re missing the point. The cost to this girl’s family is incalculably larger than the minimum wage paycheck she never had a chance to bring home.

Shell claims its sole responsibility is to enforce provincial legislation. Forgive me for thinking an employer’s responsibility must go further than the letter of the law. Young, vulnerable employees deserve better.

Alberta enforced new rules after Tara MacDonald was murdered at a Calgary fast food restaurant in 2000. How many more teenagers need to die before the rest of the country follows suit?

-30-
Update: All four suspects have now been arrested. Nothing can ever bring back a lost girl's life, but it's comforting to know those who did this will ultimately pay some price.

Your turn: Please take a moment to reflect on a life lost far too soon (her death notice can be found here.) And if you have kids of your own, never miss an opportunity to give them a hug and tell them how much you love them. I know it may sound corny, but any parent who's lost a child would give anything to engage in this simple gesture just one more time.

22 comments:

kenju said...

You are so right, Carmi. Shell ought to be chastized somehow for their callous attitude. The answer may be not to allow a child to work for an establishment which does not provide adequate security for its employees.

Plumkrazzee said...

The only people it may sound corny to, are those who indeed have not lost a child. Totally incomprehensible to me that the Shell execs would even dare utter those thoughts, much less think them.

Bhakti said...

Beautiful post, Carmi.
Our town recently lost the life of a 21 year old boy. He got drunk on New Year's Eve and jumped on the hood of someone's car, only to roll off the hood and crack his skull. Literally.

The young man was an honor student who spent most of his time helping others. It was a senseless death. An accident.

He was the son of my third grade teacher, one of my all-time favorites. My heart goes out to her, and I believe that losing someone at such a young age has to be the most difficult thing for anyone to endure.

Bhakti said...

BTW--thank you for visiting my blog again. It was terrific to see your happy face!

Barbara said...

Carmi - I started reflecting on the corporations motives and I came to the conclusion that they were trying to protect themselves from a lawsuit. Seems to me they could have saved the comment for the courtroom.

chronicler said...

This is the problem with big corporations. It's always their standard answer: The employee didn't follow procedure so we don't have any culpability here. BALONEY! They make record profits off the backs of their employees and give very little in return.

This young girl's life is worth more than a cursory statement by this company. They should sponsor the legislation needed to change the laws to make the lives of their employees safer.

Shelli said...

Bless you, Carmi! I love the old, "Blame-the-victim" theory. Of course, it was her fault that 4 people came and stabbed her to death. That was, I'm sure, what she wanted to happen. It's ludicrous!

OldOldLady Of The Hills said...

It's just tragic, Carmi! And the attitude of Shell really sucks! I have never respected them nor ever EVER buy shell gas, if I can help it, because they were, (maybe still are) a German company connected to Volkswagon or one of those car makers and were WITH Germany during World War II...

There's an attitude that is not uncommon with 'authority' people. YEARS ago, when I first moved to L.A. and lived in an Apartment in the residential section of Hollywood Blvd., my apartment building was hit by theives and 4 apartments were robbed, mine included. The Police Detectives that came to investigate said, "Well, that's what you get for living in this Hollywood."
My fault!

How could Shell be so callous in this situation? Probably the same way they no doubt helped to fuel the Concentration Camps! They don't care about human life and it's loss. All they care about is money and profits. Disgusting. Boycott Shell.

Jennifer said...

UGH! How unfeeling! I wish they could have showed a little compassion. Her poor family :(

Lisa said...

Carmi, you've really touched my heart and brought a tear to my eye today. Life really is precious, and we must take advantage of every moment. I give my kids kisses and tell them I love them dozens of times a day.

And as far as the company... that infuriates me. I'm so sick of the victims getting blamed. Its NEVER okay to murder, rape, attack, whatever. No matter what! Thanks for this thought provoking post today

Karen said...

Once again, Carmi, you've really touched a nerve. I agree with you that the corporation said absolutely the WRONG thing. I think that's definitely a case of what I call "CYA Syndrome" as in Cover Your A--! Companies run in constant fear of being sued, so they make statements like this.

However, the big picture here is exactly as you indicated: young people working alone at night without proper security. My son worked at night once and I didn't want him to do it again, since the grocery store where he had been employed had been robbed multiple times.

It's all just a sad, sad situation.

Beanhead said...

This is so sad! My heart aches for her parents.

Webmiztris said...

they should be ashamed of themselves. unfortunately, it doesn't surprise me that they'd attempt to shift the blame like that. big business could care less about anyone besides themselves.

thanks for visiting me again, carmi.... :)

Killired said...

well... i used to do claims in workers comp for the employers side, not the injured workers so maybe i can expain this...
one of my companies was a well known coffee place & an employee took the trash out at night and was robbed... not killed or anything... but the kid got written up because he should have not opened the back door to take the trash out after dark...! i thought it was a little hard BUT the company has to do that to protect themselves... actually in Ohio you can file a claim if it's your fault, like in this case.. he knew not to do it and he did it anyway... the claim was denied but i dont remember why... not cause of him breaking the rules... it went to hearings and settled...

so anyway... i can see shell's point of view on this.. yes, im sure they are sad for what happened but at the same time she did do something she shouldn't have done... unlocking the door... now i dont know the laws there for WC but shell should end up covering the death claim...
it's all leagl shit...

Maribeth said...

I am always amazed and shocked at how lightly many people take life and death.

Rachel - Wicked Ink said...

I am so not impressed with Shell Canada - the fact that I know two Shell Station owners here, and how they run their shops (no one underage, no females by themselves, always two employees) I know they are also shaking their heads.

Killired said...

maribeth... in my experience with doing worker's comp claims... it is not about the person anymore.. it's all about the money.. it's SICK and I'm glad I'm not in that field anymore... every injury is a dollar amount to the employer... not "omg, he/she's hurt, let's help them get better and back to work"... used to be that way but so many employers have become tight with their money... I HATED IT.... and I'm talking major companies... we represented many mejor companies... sickening!

CanEragon said...

Montreal does not offer many opportunities for young people to find work and make much needed cash. So kids are working graveyard shifts for pennies, and even in a glass box, death is still possible.

The fact that large companies continually place these young people in compromising insecure job positions speaks volumes about the bottom line, and that is "Profit over human life."

I see it - and everyone sees it - yet companies recite the same line, we cannot afford to pay more employees and not leave children alone to fend for themselves in our stores overnight.

Money makes the world go round, but only if that cash results in profits for businessmen and company heads. The push for profit here in Montreal outweighs the need for public safety.

Not to mention that Montreal's youth, and I am sure this is the same countrywide, have their own share of issues and problems. So why was the killer pushed to seek revenge? What was so bad about that business or did he deserve to be let go and he made a BAD choice?

The fact of the matter is - more young people will die on graveyard shifts until we push big business to do the right thing. I guess they don't see the need in protecting OUR children because theirs are so safe not having to work menial labor on a graveyard shift for pennies.

Our young people are in trouble. And those who can do something won't because of money - prestige and power.

Killired said...

yep... money... money hungry corporations...
i couldnt stand negoitiating for settlements because i wanted to give them what they were worth not what the company figured they were worth minus present day value and all that other bogus crap...
i dont think it will change anytime soon... and you know what? in the US when the younger employees are killed, the ones with no kids... there is no future exposure for a death claim... if there is no dependent to file the claim for death benefits, there are no benefits to be paid out! so the younger people dying on the job is cheaper than the older person with a spouse and a few kids!!!!

Maria said...

"And if you have kids of your own, never miss an opportunity to give them a hug and tell them how much you love them. I know it may sound corny, but any parent who's lost a child would give anything to engage in this simple gesture just one more time."

I am quoting your wise, wise words in this comment because like so many, I have lost a child to a tragic death. My son was 23 years old when he was accidently killed.

For Brigitte's parents there will be no real closure...closure is only cruel illusion.

The death of a chid tears holes in the very soul of a parent. I wish I could hug my son one more time and tell him how much I love him.

Pink Pen said...

That's disgusting on Shell. I won't be buying my gas their any time soon. Michele sent me :)

Anonymous said...

August7,2009 I am Tara McDonalds Mom Tara was murdered in Calgary in 2000 working alone.When is the govt.going to realize that one death is too much When they loose a child? I wouldn't wish this on anyone