Yesterday and this morning I watched the news, something that always leaves me a little crazy because I have higher standards for professional journalism than most journalists do, and my standards aren't that high.... but never mind that... there I was watching Steven Slater being made into some sort of folk hero or champion of flyers everywhere....and for the life of me I can't figure out why. Read for yourself, here, here and here. You can use your favorite search engine or check out his supporters on Face Book.
It seems Mr. Slater has been a flight steward for many years and, having started the flight on the wrong foot with this particular passenger, had his last nerve stepped on when the passenger unbuckled, unseated and tried to retrieve items in the overhead compartments before the jet had finished its taxi to the gate. After being cussed out and having his head hit, Mr. Slater decided he'd had enough. He grabbed a few beers from the galley, spewed some venom at the ill mannered passenger over the PA system, pulled the emergency chute and ran off (like a petulant, naughty child).
Great. This is exactly the type of professional I hope to encounter when defying gravity in a large hollow metal tube.... don't you? In fact, I think it would be lovely if professionals of all kinds had emergency chutes to employ. Or if we all just look the other way when they have temper tantrums and don't want to do their jobs..... because we've all felt like doing it right?
Let's start with calling the fire department out at 3:00am to come to your house to pick Grandpa off the floor when he falls out of bed. Having been a volunteer firefighter, I know that's not always convenient to get out of my warm cozy bed in the middle of the night to go deal with someone else's problems. So firefighters, why not just stomp your foot and refuse to do your job? We'll make a Face Book page for you and tell you how wonderful you are..... who cares about Grandpa anyway? He's old, he's been to Europe... he's got nothing to complain about and he'll still be there in morning after you've had a good sleep.
How about bus drivers? Next time someone hurls a few expletives at you, stop the bus where ever you may be, take your lunch pail, give your passengers a single finger salute and go catch a cab back home. We'll all forget that among the one mouthy passenger there were some ordinary folks just trying to get to work or to school... or to go pick up Grandpa from the floor because our hero at the fire department refused. We'll sing songs in your honor.
Yes, I am employing sarcasm.... and yes I recently posted in Face Book :"Hostility and sarcasm reflect a certain insecurity that is not warranted when one is really under the sway of truth."
I don't know what to say except... I couldn't help myself... I read the stories.... pulled my emergency chute and all this sarcasm came spilling out.
Here's what I really think. I think Steve Slater behaved abominably. I think people who laud this type of behavior aren't able to think through the ramifications of trusting your safety to someone who appears to be either this selfish, unstable, and/or incompetent.
Dealing with the public is difficult, no doubt about it. We all have buttons that get pushed when people behave rudely or dismiss us when we are right. While Slater's actions may in fact get him 15 minutes of fame, they should also get him on the list of unruly passengers. Last thing I want is to fly with someone as a steward or passenger that is capable of such behavior.