Yes, the JetBlue steward who cursed out a passenger before quitting in grand style was waaaay out of line. But if you’re going to tell your employer what to do with its macadamia nuts, why not depart whizzing down an emergency slide with a couple of cold beers?
Steven Slater went over the edge after he told a passenger who went for her luggage the instant the flight touched down at JFK to get back in her seat. She cursed him out, snatched her bag, and bonked him on the head with it.
Could’ve been the blow to the noggin that did it. A published report also says Slater’s mother is dying of cancer. Or maybe he already was mad as hell and wasn’t going to take it anymore. Once the woman refused to apologize, Slater hit the public address button, called her an expletive a-hole and said, “I’ve had it. That’s it.”
Then he grabbed his bags, popped the emergency ramp, and tossed them down. Slater came sliding behind, a can of brew in each hand.Jerry DeMarco Publisher/Editor
Witnesses said the 39-year-old steward ran across the tarmac, yanked off his company tie and tossed it — in a curtain-call flourish — then hopped into his car, after which police said he drove to his beachfront home in the Rockaways, where he was later found with his boyfriend and arrested on charges of reckless endangerment, criminal mischief, and other counts.
I’m not condoning what Slater did. But think about it. Don’t we all have that little demon inside, the one who’d love to find that childhood bully who beat us up in grade school sitting at a bar somewhere, overweight and balding, just so we can grab him in a headlock and reminisce? (Sorry. It was 20-some years ago. I’d been lifting regularly at the gym while dealing with anger issues.)
How many times does some moron grab the back of your seat for support, as if to catapult you into the cockpit, just as you’re finally dozing off? How many fail to keep their overmedicated kids in check (remember Bill Cosby’s “Jeffrey”)? And how many — even though they know the rules — don’t seem to grasp the potential dangers of a sudden shift once the plane begins to taxi to the terminal zone?
If none of her fellow passengers had the nerve to say something, then how can anyone blame the suddenly unhinged Mr. Slater? Maybe 20 years of takeoffs and landings and emergency instructions and “why aren’t there enough blankets?” was enough.
Talk about cabin pressure. (“In the event of a psychotic episode, a Groucho Marx mask will drop down….”)
Bet it takes you no more than 10 seconds to think of someone — family member, friend, former colleague — who has either lost a job or is being forced to do three at once. And if you’re working (God bless), when’s the last time you saw a raise?
Slater will go to court and pay for his transgressions. But he’ll be remembered — either as a folk hero or an expletive a-hole. He’ll be all over TV, if he isn’t already. A magazine will pay him big bucks for an exclusive interview that should more than cover the fines.
He’ll be viral, man.
And that’s the beauty of fame, ladies and gentlemen. It’s not 15 minutes anymore: It’s a loop, played over and again. It’s JetBlue passengers trying to jog their memories whether they met this guy. It’s people coming up to him on the boardwalk, congratulating him for the vicarious rush. At the very least, it’s a regular spot with Howard Stern or a new job BEHIND the desk at the unemployment office.
A cached version of his MySpace profile says Slater was a flight attendant for 20 years. A published report identified him as chairman of the airline’s Uniform Redesign Committee and a member of the Inflight Values Committee.
I’m sure other details will emerge that will make the story even more amusing — especially when the obnoxious passenger finds a pro bono lawyer jerky enough to sue Slater and the airline.
You’ll likely forget Slater’s ironic last name (
Just don’t call him Shirley
), but you’ll never forget the stunt. I’ll bet Budweiser’s already drawing up a commercial. After all, it is only five months till the Super Bowl.
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