I hate to fly. I used to like it, but now it is an exercise in trying to achieve Ghandi-like transcendence above the desire to kick someone in the ‘nads. So, imagine my delight today when I opened the paper to read that JetBlue flight attendant Steven Slater, after encountering the ghastly typical passenger flying these days, “snapped”. There are a couple different versions of the story floating around, but according to Mr. Slater, this is what actually happened.

Two female passengers got into a fight over the overhead bin space, and during the ensuing tussle, Mr. Slater was struck in the head, either by a piece of luggage or the door to the bin. Apparently this is what passes as tolerable behavior now that airlines are desperate for positive reviews, as normally you would think this charming display of incivility would, in the past, been grounds for ejection from the plane. Think again. Well, one of these classy travelers was required to check her bag, and when finding out upon landing that said bag was not immediately available to her, became enraged and unleashed a barrage of profanity at Mr. Slater. When Mr. Slater, who to this point had been attempting to avoid conflict with her asked for an apology, she told him to “go f yourself” and called him a “mother-fer”.

Mr. Slater proceeded to the intercom, thanked those who in the last 20 years had shown dignity and respect and told the rest “that’s enough!....go f*** yourselves”, plus a few more choice words. He then activated the emergency evacuation chute at the service exit, grabbed a beer from the beverage cart, and slid his way to what is inevitably going to be much more than 15 minutes of fame.

Flying used to be fun, but even before 9/11, business travel to the extent we encounter it now has soured the experience. When I used to fly in the ‘80s, everyone was on their way to having a good time, and it showed in the attitude of the passengers. It was mostly adults, because parents did not take their toddlers with them on vacation. There were the occasional business travelers, but now everyone has a laptop and an agenda. I have encountered the rudest, most insufferable jerks imaginable while en route, them pushing me down the aisle as I look for my seat, or taking all the overhead space because they are far too important to wait for luggage. I always check my bag. It’s just too hard to deal with people trying to trample you as you attempt to squish your bag into the dinky compartment already overstuffed with duffle bags. I actually once had a guy sitting next to me watch porn the entire flight on his laptop, only finally shifting his screen when I gave him a dirty look.

Mr. Slater is being arraigned on charges of criminal mischief and reckless endangerment, both felonies. I wonder if these charges will stick, given that he is turning into an overnight sensation, a kind of poster boy for the downtrodden, the “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore!” American who can no longer stand the arrogance of the so-called paying customer who “is always right”, who abuses that privilege to the point of physical altercations. At what point do you finally say “take this job and shove it”? I mean, do you have to let people scream at you and possibly hurt you in order to keep your job these days? I hope Mr. Slater gets his appearances on Oprah and Ellen and David and Jay and gets to tell his side of the story. I hope he does not receive too much negative press, although like I said, that does not appear to be the case. There has been one account that when he was arrested he appeared to have been having “sexual relations”. Guy doesn’t waste any time. Well, whatever. I’m sure all kinds of stuff is going to come out about him, but I’m glad he got his beer and his 15 minutes.

Some may be appalled at Mr. Slater’s behavior, considering that these are the folks who we entrust our lives with when hurtling through the air at 30,000 feet, and professional behavior in the face of such outbursts from unruly passengers is the expected protocol. I cannot imagine having the tolerance to deal with angry passengers everyday, all day, for my entire career, in a space that can best be described as suffocating. The overcrowding, the crying babies, the kids, the sick people, and this new breed of person with the “don’t tell me what to do” demeanor. Flight attendants are dealing with more and more hostility from passengers as their rudeness and ignoring or outright defiance of directions from the flight attendants escalates. We worry about passengers snapping. I say if the passengers don’t start behaving and acting like adults, we may have a different person to worry about. And maybe next time, that person won’t wait until the plane is on the ground.

Comments

Founder Aug. 10, 2010 @ 4:07 p.m.

That song by Paul Simon just came to mind: Slip Slidin' Away!

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David Dodd Aug. 10, 2010 @ 4:23 p.m.

I read about this this morning, glad you blogged about it. Like yourself, I hate to fly. This is one example why. And that former flight attendant is America's latest hero!

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MsGrant Aug. 10, 2010 @ 5:13 p.m.

Real American Heroes....Mr. Flight Attendant gone ballistic...(to the tune of the Bud Light commercial). I say good for him, and just hope they don't throw the book at him!!

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David Dodd Aug. 10, 2010 @ 5:31 p.m.

I have huge problems with someone arrested and charged, basically, with quiting their job. Granted, he certainly quit it with style, but really, everyone deserves that once in a while. They should give the guy a Goddamned award in my opinion.

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MsGrant Aug. 10, 2010 @ 5:37 p.m.

Oh, to have been on that flight and seen Steven swooping down that chute to freedom, beer in hand, a big f-you to the indignities of public service!! I with you, RFG. Apparently he checked for people before engaging the release of the chute, which is required. So if they press charges against him, he will at least have that in his favor.

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Joe Poutous Aug. 10, 2010 @ 6:55 p.m.

"this new breed of person with the “don’t tell me what to do” demeanor"

My least favorite part of life. I'm very lucky that it is not my job to deal with these trash.

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Robert Johnston Aug. 10, 2010 @ 7:15 p.m.

Foxtrot Yankee to you, Jet Blue!

Unless I'm going overseas, it's Amtrak for me!

Takes longer to get there, but the scenery passing by has a calmimg effect on the optic nerves. Plus, if you've never passed by San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS, one of my old employers) at night (or even better, sunset) on the Pacific Surfrider, by all means, give it a go! The photo ops are most certainly worth it!

Hope the dude skates out on these charges!

--LPR

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MsGrant Aug. 10, 2010 @ 8:07 p.m.

They've watched too much Jersey Shores, tiki.

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MsGrant Aug. 10, 2010 @ 8:10 p.m.

Love the train, LPR, but most times circumstance requires the dreaded flight.

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antigeekess Aug. 11, 2010 @ 6:33 a.m.

He's my hero too, Grantie. Was listening to the story on Bob & Sheri yesterday morning at work, and giggling my arse off. Here's his Facebook fan page:
http://www.facebook.com/pages/Steven-Slater/145469768806134?ref=search&v=wall

Looks like the Today Show got him first: http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/26184891/vp/38655148#38655148

And I'm with Joe, here. He C&Ped exactly the sentence I already had on my clipboard: "this new breed of person with the “don’t tell me what to do” demeanor"

P-A-R-E-N-T-I-N-G. For the most part, there isn't any, any more. This is exactly the kind of person it results in.

That's all I'm gonna say.

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MsGrant Aug. 11, 2010 @ 7:28 a.m.

Parker, I don't think he was unstable. I think he had just had enough. When you are in a position of authority and you have what equates to a mutiny on your hands every day, and you are not allowed to act on that authority because your employer tells you the customer is always right, one could justifiably lose their composure. It is called accountability without responsibility, and it is what makes many employees simmer on a daily basis.

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MsGrant Aug. 11, 2010 @ 7:39 a.m.

I love this guy! I think I am going to get a free Steven tee-shirt.

Anti, I fear not so much for this generation currently in college and high school, but for the people that employ them. There is no fear of repercussion. When we were kids, one look from my mom shut me up if I was out of line. Now, you cannot discipline kids in school because the parents become unglued, and you cannot fire employees for bad behavior because they will sue.

I love that line from George Carlin and I have used it before but this is a good example of what we are talking about so I will borrow it again.

"It's okay, little Johnny. You're not a loser. You're the last winner." This is what these kids have heard their whole lives.

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nan shartel Aug. 11, 2010 @ 8:49 a.m.

yupppers...dem "mad as hell" peeps r starting to stand up aren't they...can those attendants pepper spray those kind of airline combatants???

i'll supply the pepper....hahahahahahahaha

great blog Grantie!!!

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MsGrant Aug. 11, 2010 @ 9:28 a.m.

Thanks, nan! I'm not sure what they can do with these entitled jerks. It's just so rampant. I think after this incident airlines are going to crack down on unruly passengers. At least I hope so.

How much you want to bet that woman on the plane who verbally abused Mr. Slater sues the airline? It's those types that love publicity, be it good, bad or otherwise. Mr. Slater should sue her in a civil suit for injuring him - that would teach her a lesson!! Hit 'em where it hurts.

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nan shartel Aug. 11, 2010 @ 9:31 a.m.

oh yeah that pocketbook punch is always the best deterrent to bad manners

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MsGrant Aug. 11, 2010 @ 10:10 a.m.

When life's got you down "grab two beers and slide!!"

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nan shartel Aug. 11, 2010 @ 10:24 a.m.

that is a perfect saying to put on a T shirt Grantie!

Dr Peanut couldn't have said it any better!!!

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MsGrant Aug. 11, 2010 @ 4:24 p.m.

I hope not. And I really hope his fellow employees speak in his defense, and not be under some gag order from JetBlue.

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nan shartel Aug. 11, 2010 @ 4:55 p.m.

i hope those Feds grow a heart 2 Grantie

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MsGrant Aug. 11, 2010 @ 5:06 p.m.

And JetBlue needs to grow a pair!!!

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antigeekess Aug. 11, 2010 @ 11:58 p.m.

When life's got you down "grab two beers and slide!!"

LOL. Perfect.

:)

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Evelyn Aug. 12, 2010 @ 8:47 a.m.

Everything one needs to know in life is learned in kindergarten.

When you hit someone, or are mean, apologize.

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MsGrant Aug. 12, 2010 @ 10:04 a.m.

My sister read this blog and sent me this e-mail - she makes a valid point!!

"I love it! Flying does suck these days. Especially the damn kids and their parents who think nothing of their bratty behavior. We took a flight home from Philadelphia where a family sat behind us. The one kid constantly was kicking the back of our seats and screaming at the top of his lungs! The baby had a s***ty diaper. The mother proceeded to change this diaper in her seat. The smell gagged me. If I had been kicking people’s seats, screaming at the top of my lungs and soiling myself, you know the cops would have been waiting for me at the gate!"

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Visduh Aug. 12, 2010 @ 12:09 p.m.

Yes, in a time long ago and in a land far away, flying was once fun. The passengers were well-dressed, courteous and well-behaved(except for the smoking.) Something happened in the forty-or-so years since then, and it ain't fun no mo'. I dread my every trip on an airliner, and as a result, don't travel as much as I might if flying were at least a neutral experience. Let's not get started on the role airports play in the whole mess.

This poor guy was caught between the airline--which expects him to be super-humanly patient, accommodating, and competent--and a public that has more than its share of total jerks. How many times have you wanted to do something just like this? More than once, I'd guess. Jet Blue should take something from this in regard to how much they try to squeeze out of the employees. But they won't get that message at all. If anything they will just decide to get tougher on . . . the flight attendants.

Air travel in this new century has become a stress game, and one that I avoid as much as possible. Unfortunately, I know of no other feasible way to visit Europe, Asia, or the South Pacific.

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MsGrant Aug. 12, 2010 @ 3:29 p.m.

Yes, you would think that JetBlue would at least stand up for their employee - he was the one that got whacked on the head. Could you imagine if that banshee that was screaming at him was the one that got hit? BIG lawsuit. I have two flights coming up on Southwest that I am dreading. As far as long distance flights go, we got a miles credit card years ago. We pay everthing we can on it and pay it off every month. We use the miles to upgrade to business or first class. There is no way I can be on a plane in coach for more than an hour or two before I feel myself becoming all "Steven".

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