Wednesday, August 11, 2010

I know why the enraged flight attendant slides

Everybody has heard the story by now, but let's recap anyway, just because it's fun:
  • JetBlue flight attendant Steven Slater (pictured) got into a verbal altercation with a passenger about retrieving luggage from an overhead storage bin before the aircraft had come to a complete stop.
  • During the altercation, the passenger's luggage hit Slater in the head.
  • The passenger refused to apologize.
  • Slater got on the plane's PA system and cussed out the passenger, especially the one with who whom he'd had the altercation.
  • Slater then deployed the inflatable evacuation chute, grabbed a beer from the beverage cart, yelled "It's been great!", slid down and went to his car.
I know nothing else about Steven Slater nor about this incident (did the passenger hit him intentionally?) but I know enough to cast my vote on whether he's a folk hero or not: Absolutely 100X YEEESSSSSSS!
I had a discussion earlier with someone who disagreed. "The Jet Blue flight attendant is NOT a hero, people", she said. "He is to me!", I replied. She pointed out, "As NPR put it, it's a great 'take this job and shove it' moment...but that's about it". To which I retorted, "And at this point, that's all I'm really looking for in a hero". And it is; if I had a fraction of this guy's guts and integrity, I'd flame out at my "job" in a similarly spectacular fashion...but there's more.
  1. He left a company with whom he'd worked 20 years via inflatable evacuation chute. Every crappy customer service job in America (and just about every customer service job in America is crappy) should be retro-fitted with inflatable evacuation chutes for exactly this purpose.
  2. He didn't punch the passenger in the mouth, which is probably what she deserved because she's undoubtedly one of those assholes who misinterpreted the expression "the customer is always right" as "I get to do whatever I want, up to and including treating people employed in the customer service industry like garbage or worse if it suits my surly mood because I'm a selfish, stupid boor".
  3. He got arrested for...what? He quit his job (not illegal), he cussed out some airline passengers (hilarious, but not illegal), he grabbed a beer (okay, petty theft) and he deployed an inflatable evacuation chute (hell yeah!). Apparently that last one is the problem. Police say that those chutes deploy so rapidly that if someone had been below when it happened, they would have been seriously hurt, maybe killed. Well, no offense to the police or the imaginary guy who wasn't in the way and therefor wasn't seriously hurt or killed, but screw you both. He had a job to quit in the most awesome manner possible for someone in his position. Style points should count for something, people!
Disagree if you want to, but all I know is if I'd been on a plane I'd have given him a standing ovation (after the plane had come to a complete stop and the captain had turned off the seatbelt sign, of course) and some of you people moonlighting as customers are jerks, morons, both or worse.

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