Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Please Stow Your Anger In An Upright Position

America has a new folk hero, and his name is Steven Slater.

Anyone who has traveled extensively for business in the last few years can identify with the plight of the JetBlue flight attendant who yesterday "went ballistic," as first reports of the incident claimed. But imagine being responsible for the safety and comfort of 100 self-entitled, ill-mannered slobs and their unruly children, and having a passenger actually call you a "motherfucker" for insisting that he obey Federal Aviation regulations? 

On every flight there are always several passengers who insist on getting their enormous bags out of the overhead compartments before the pilot has turned off the seat belt sign. If you're a frequent business traveler sitting in the rear of the plane you've learned to relax and just let them lumber out with their rolling coffin-sized carry-ons. Not long ago I boarded a Denver-bound flight that had originated in Honolulu and found myself sitting next to a hugely obese woman holding a crate of pineapples on what we'll call her lap. "You know," I finally said, "you can buy perfectly good pineapples in any supermarket." You can imagine what her response was.

You can expect Steven Slater's story to get a lot of play because we can all relate to reaching the boiling point on a job and doing something dramatic and perhaps even career-ending -- most of us just don't have an emergency chute at our disposal so we can slide away as an exhilarating punctuation to our take-this-job-and-shove it statement.  In Mr. Slater's case he may face federal charges that could result in seven years in prison, but I predict he'll soon be making the rounds of late-night and morning talk shows as something of a media sensation. I can already see him dishing with the girls on The View. Math skills, though, apparently aren't a requirement for flight attendants -- I don't understand what he meant by "there's goes 28 years" when he's currently only 39, unless he practiced for his airborne career by serving peanuts and drinks to his G.I. Joes and Barbies when he was eleven. So far I've only seen video of him doing a smirking perp walk in handcuffs, but if he has any stage presence at all he may have launched an entirely new career in television. I certainly hope so.

If you have a story to share of your own spectacular on-the-job melt-down, please use the Comments section below to post it.

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