People have different ways of coping – or not.
Last week, Jet Blue flight attendant Steven Slater did what many people only dream of doing.
Virtually everyone has felt anger and frustration in a job and not done anything about it because of fear of being fired. In this case, Slater said job and passengers be damned, “I’m outta here!”
He’d had his fill, and these days that’s easy.
As a talk-show host, columnist and news junkie, my brain is filled with bad news.
Any one of these is enough to destabilize even the most secure personality: potential nuclear war, Islamic jihad, terrorists lurking, wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Middle East on the verge of chaos, nature wreaking havoc with storms, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, Russia burning down, the U.N. supporting world Islamic influence and simultaneously continuing its march to control world governments – and those are just some international crises.
At home, there’s the not-so-slow disintegration of our country, Constitution, presidency, political establishment, judiciary, economy, currency, education system, military, NASA, culture, churches and much more.
That’s why the radio news report I heard last week left me laughing and cheering the flight attendant who made a grand exit.
The report told of Steven Slater, who had some kind of confrontation with a passenger concerning baggage in the overhead compartment. Details are fuzzy, but it wasn’t pretty.
Somehow, Slater, who’s a self-confessed “bag Nazi,” got hit in the head either with the suitcase or the compartment door. It drew blood.
Apparently, problems continued through the flight and after landing.
At that point, Slater called it quits. He got on the intercom, verbally tore apart difficult passengers, apologized to those who were nice, and then, he scrammed.
Scrammed? From a plane? On the tarmac?
As he stormed through the galley, he grabbed a beer (maybe two), opened the emergency slide, and, as reported, slid down the chute, walked to his car and drove home!
It left me in stitches! I loved it! Just the visual of him doing that is made for the movies. That couldn’t happen! But it did!
For anyone who’s had to put up with annoying, and wrong, customers, Slater’s action was a dream come true.
I’m still laughing!
It may not have been the smartest resume move, but he made history and became a hero to all of us who’ve had days like that but resisted similar inclinations.
Count me in!
While in high school, I worked as a carhop at a drive-in restaurant. A classmate and I were on the night shift when everything went wrong. The husband and wife owners had a fight. The fountain guy didn’t show up for work, the short order cook had a tantrum and quit and we were left to appease the customers who had good reason not to tip us. And they didn’t
We were overworked, under-appreciated, really, really underpaid and exhausted.
After closing, Sue and I discussed vengeance. Quitting would be too easy.
We decided the way to spectacularly vent would be to hurl the gallon jars of ketchup and mustard through the front, plate-glass windows. Not only would it make a royal mess, but it would all be visible from the parking lot and the highway.
What a way to go!
But, we didn’t.
It took real willpower to resist the urge, and I admit, there are days I regret our decision!
That’s why Slater’s flameout was perfect. He didn’t hurt anyone. He got his message across. And, it made him an urban hero!
There’s even a fundraising for his legal expenses, and he’ll have them. Whether for criminal or civil charges, he’s in trouble. Despite statements that he wants his job back, that’s probably not in the cards.
The whole incident still makes me smile. Despite all the legal allegations, all the contradictory statements from passengers and all the sermonizing and pontificating ad nauseum by media pundits about Slater’s obligations as a flight attendant, safety and customer relations, I just can’t get angry at him.
I’ve traveled hundreds of times. Some flight attendants were nice, some even had a sense of humor and some, well, “should have stayed in bed that day!”
And now that we’re in the grip of terrorist threats, just looking at them a bit off kilter could get you arrested.
Slater called himself a “bag Nazi.” Good for him. I’m stick of passengers carrying stuffed suitcases that barely fit into the overhead and then, jam the under-seat space with briefcases, shopping bags and purses.
I’m glad Slater tries to make them follow the rules. Someone should.
And speaking of “Nazis” – have you met a “peanut Nazi?” I did recently, on a Southwest flight, after they’d served peanuts and coffee.
I was enjoying both when I saw the woman flight attendant standing at my row, glaring at me, with her hand out. She stopped me in mid-chew, demanding my packet of peanuts.
I said, “It’s open, and I’m half done with it.”
She barked at me: “There’s an allergic person on board.”
I again said I’d already eaten half the contents.
She snarled and threateningly demanded the packet, intoning that “Someone on board was A-L-L-E-R-G-I-C. ”
You’d have thought the plague was imminent.
Not wanting to get arrested, I returned the packet.
Next time, I’ll bring my own peanuts.
Next time, declare allergies before the flight departs, not after peanuts have been served!
Next time, peanut person, take the bus!
With such nonsense plus lengthy, invasive security checks, delayed flights, cramped/broken seats, minimal leg room, inoperative lights, overweight passengers, crying children kicking seat-backs, slow beverage service and overpriced booze – it’s no wonder passengers and staff irritate each other.
So, cheers to Steven Slater.
He’s a real-life version of Howard Beale in “Network,” who was “mad as hell and not going to take it anymore!”
Beale spoke for corporate America.
Slater, for the average guy.
Thanks, Steven. You proved we’re not all drones – yet.