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Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Stewardess, is There Something You're Not Telling Us?

Laurence - Deacon and Martyr (258)

Of course I could not pass up the opportunity to write about yesterday's most bizarre news story.  In case you just emerged from seclusion and therefore missed it, a jetBlue flight attendant named Steven Slater yesterday attempted to prevent a passenger from retrieving her carry-on suitcase from an overhead bin while the plane was still taxiing towards the gate.  In a string of circumstances the details of which are not 100% clear, the passenger apparently swore at Slater and the bag in question hit him in the face.  At which point Slater snapped.

The general summary seems to be that Slater grabbed the microphone and excoriated the offending passenger over the public address system, then grabbed his own carry-on bag and exited the plane via a still-armed door and thus deploying the escape slide.  

"But what makes him an instant legend, of course, is the beer. He grabs the beer on the way out. That's the Animal House meets Airplane! note. No wonder he's an instant Internet icon. His name will become a verb, just watch."  

And it's true.  On Facebook, which has become the bench in front of the general store, the waiting area of the beauty parlor and the corner bar all at the same time, my "wall" was abuzz this morning with people weighing in on Slater's stunt.  Hero, some said.  Silly queen, opined others (the Daily News seemingly went out of its way to play up Slater's homosexuality as if that caused his behavior).

But reading the news today it seems as if the overwhelming majority of the population -- even in the airline industry -- sympathizes with Slater, especially as It emerged that the same passenger hit Slater in the forehead with the door to the luggage bin before the plane left Pittsburgh.  Bartenders, hairdressers and office drones have weighed in on their own inclinations to "pull a Slater" when a customer or boss pushed them too far.   And the customers, stressed about their jobs, their tax bills and the general malaise that still seems to hang over our country, are easily riled too. Leaves you to wonder how far behind Slater on the chute many of us are.  Just tonight, a friend and I were in a store and witnessed an out-and-out screaming match between two employees and a customer.  We did not hear what triggered it but we hightailed it out of there before the cops arrived.

It really makes me wonder whether everybody ought to take a deep breath and reset their priorities.  As cliched as it sounds, we're all in this together. Would it kill you to wait another 30 seconds to get your bag?  I'm guessing not.

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