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World Responds to Freakout Flight Attendant Slater

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Steven Slater went viral so fast and hard, he’s already a cliche.

To recap: Monday, JetBlue Pittsburgh-to-NYC flight attendant Slater strayed into a battle between female passengers over overhead bin space and got whacked in the head with errant bag.

One of the battling baggage biznatches was asked to gate-check her oversized bag. Said woman threw an obscenity-laced fit at Slater when they landed and the bag wasn’t instantly handed to her on a silver platter. Slater snapped, cursed woman out over intercom, grabbed a brewski or two, and — displaying a flair for drama — exited stage left down the emergency slide.

So why did this act strike such a chord? And why are 57% of respondents to an MSNBC poll saying he’s a “hero”?

The “chord” part is easy: flying is now an act of grim necessity rather than an adventure or an experience in fine travel. Passengers are packed into seemingly smaller and smaller spaces (even as Americans get fatter and fatter), it’s hot, close, sometimes smelly; people are hungry, frazzled, hauling huge-ass bags on board to avoid baggage fees; and there is no joy in Mudville.

Now, as to the “hero” part. I assume deep down people know this was not a heroic act. It was a freakout: a provoked, viscerally satisfying one, but a freakout nonetheless. And, by employing the emergency slide, he was potentially endangering support workers.

The “hero” label, then, comes from the embodied urges of an entire planet of workers frustrated with jobs where they are unappreciated, overworked, insulted, humiliated. These masses yearn to retaliate in kind, to exit dramatically with tormentors left dumbstruck, but they, being practical, dare not.

Slater dared.

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About Eric Olsen

Career media professional and serial entrepreneur Eric Olsen flung himself into the paranormal world in 2012, creating the America's Most Haunted brand and co-authoring the award-winning America's Most Haunted book, published by Berkley/Penguin in Sept, 2014. Olsen is co-host of the nationally syndicated broadcast and Internet radio talk show After Hours AM; his entertaining and informative America's Most Haunted website and social media outlets are must-reads: Twitter@amhaunted, Facebook.com/amhaunted, Pinterest America's Most Haunted. Olsen is also guitarist/singer for popular and wildly eclectic Cleveland cover band The Props.
  • Not this time, Christopher Rose. That broad got him so mad that it was probably like restraining a guy on THC.

    Not that I’m an advocate of the overzealousness of many of our boys in blue, but at least tasers weren’t involved.

  • Strange as it may sound, it is actually possible to arrest someone without slapping them in chains…

  • what should they do?

  • Eric, I know what your police do, but that doesn’t mean it is right…

  • Thanks guys! Wish I’d known you then, Dawn!
    I forgot to mention the security measures, Jeannie, good point. Chris, if they’re going to arrest someone, they are going to lead him/her away in cuffs.

  • Dawn, that’s hilarious! I can’t say I’ve ever had cause for a dramatic exit, but I do admire someone who can stand up for himself/herself when he/she has had enough and who can also manage to do it with such flair.

    USA Today had an article about this yesterday with a spin about how workers are, just as you said Eric, fed up with doing more for less in such a stressful environment. I think they used the term “There’s no more blood left in this stone.”

  • I can say without shame, I dramatically departed a job once by drawing a huge (and I mean huge) smiley face on my ass, dropped my pants on the way out and suggested my former boss kiss it.

    Thankfully, I didn’t need a future letter of reference. I must admit, I like Slater’s flair for the drama. *claps*

  • Eric,

    IMO, We have all had it with the airline industry. Even those of us who don’t travel see people being treated less than human in the airports, strip searched by Xray machines, made to sit in planes on the tarmac like cans of sardines, and basically told, “Everyone is a terrorist until proven otherwise.”

    : ) I want a T-shirt!

  • “workers frustrated with jobs where they are unappreciated, overworked, insulted, humiliated.”

    Maybe business owners and bosses will take note, but I doubt it

  • The worst part of this was seeing him being manhandled in handcuffs by the American cops.

    It is a bitter irony that the land of the free has turned into such a controlling police state…

  • I said “potentially” – he claims he looked first to make sure no one was below.

  • Endangering the ground crew? If the door had flown off, maybe. OR, dropping his beer. But I highly doubt a whack by plastic is putting life at risk.