Steven Slater, Jet Blue, and a Public ‘Mad as Hell’
Apparently, the public has weighed in, voluminously, in support of flight attendant, Steven Slater, of Jet Blue, who suffered physical and verbal assault by a passenger when he attempted to do his job—keep passengers in their seats until the “All clear” sign was given.
When Slater asked the female passenger to refrain from opening the overhead bin to get her oversized bag out (putting others at risk), she stung him with profanity and the edge of her bag.
Oh, that moment hadn’t been the only time they’d engaged. Apparently she’d given him trouble on the first leg of the flight. But her latest action became his breaking point.
That’s when he flipped.
In an action reminiscent of the 1976 movie “Network” when the lead character says, “I’m mad as Hell and I’m not going to take it anymore,” Slater allegedly got on the PA system, told that passenger what he thought of her, and quit his job.
Next, he grabbed a beer from the refreshment cart, activated the emergency evacuation chute, and exited the plane.
And people all over who tire of the obnoxious among us, heralded Slater a “hero.” The public saw him as a man who foreswore corporate dictates (“the customer is always right”–even if she isn’t) in performance of his duties. He challenged a customer’s blatant disrespect, in the process.
But I felt Slater’s pain–all too well.
On June 3, 2010, my husband and I flew from Asheville, North Carolina, to Providence, Rhode Island, via Continental Airlines, with a lay-over in Newark, New Jersey. I wrote up our abysmal experience in “Our Out-of-Towners’ Airline Disaster Story.” Several newspapers ran it.
In that story, I mention a female passenger who attacked me with a series of F-bombs because she regarded my response to airline treatment of us “inappropriate.” She felt perfectly entitled to publicly harangue me, though none of it was her business. When I responded to her (without profanity), no airline personnel came to my defense (one stood behind my seat.) Their silence spoke volumes and said: “Rudeness reigns.”
So, while most of us firmly condemn what Mr. Slater did that day, we understand why he acted in such a fashion: he was simply unable to endure, for a moment longer, the disrespect he faces, in the daily performance of his job. Unfortunately, his over-the-top response put others at risk.
Yes, he should suffer consequences for his actions… but so, too, should the passenger who initiated the incident…
***Click on link below or cut and paste or type into your browser for “Our Out-of-Towners’ Airline Disaster Story”