Steven Slater is a hero – or a problem, depending on your perspective. The 39-year old flight attendant for Jet Blue walked off the job yesterday in the most dramatic of ways. After telling off a difficult passenger over the public address system, Slater grabbed a few beers, opened the emergency chute and slid off the airplane. The 20-year industry veteran immediately fulfilled the not-so-secret fantasies of millions (if not billions) of frustrated worker bees everywhere.
But to those of us who spend a fair amount of time in the air, this was a long time coming. I’m continually astonished by the behavior of people who I have to believe were raised by wolves. I’ve watched a man change his shirt and refresh his deodorant while standing in the aisle. True story. I’ve also been seated next to a man who I’m fairly certain was masturbating beneath the blanket covering him, a woman who gave herself a complete pedicure, and a 20-something “dude” who was literally bopping to the Soulja Boy blasting so loudly from his earphones that, had I known the words, I could have sung along.
There’s no counting the times that I’ve witnessed passengers being rude to each other and rude to the flight attendants. And I’ve always been amazed by the patience they’ve shown in return because I know I couldn’t have shown the same restraint. I might have opened up the door at 30,000 feet and pushed these motherbleepers out – without a parachute. I can’t even begin to imagine the stress of having to deal with continual verbal abuse from passengers, coupled with the need to remain vigilant and watch for would-be panty-bombers.
Sure, I’ve dealt with surly flight attendants over the years, but I’ve chalked up their bad mood to a bad day. Because a bad day for these people is a bad passenger or, worse yet, a bad security scare. So, hopefully, what Steven Slater did will shine a light on just how unfriendly the skies have become over the years and get people to treat each other and flight crews with a little more respect.
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