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Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Let It All Out, Baby......

By now you've all heard the little story that has made me giggle with a snarky little smirk on my face. Steven Slater, former JetBlue flight attendant, made his infamous exit from not only the aircraft but from his multi-year career yesterday after landing at New York's JFK International Airport. He'd had it. And for some reason, employers frown on telling customers to "F ___ Off." How can employers be so not understanding?

Flight attendants, along with a myriad of other folks working with the cracked-out public, are under stress. Daily. Every single time we turn around there's another expectation that we will overlook some issue, smile when smiling really isn't an appropriate reaction, turn our heads to avoid another confrontation, ask people repeatedly (is there a stronger word than "repeatedly"??) to do various things like turn off mobile phones, be nice to children that should have the crap knocked out of them, help people that are more needy than anything else, and look pretty when our uniforms are covered in soda pop, spit up, tomato juice and sweat. In many ways, it's a simple job. Routine. In other ways, it's a pressure cooker. Stressful. And its worse for some personality types than others. If you're the guy who can ignore things, let it run off your back, and not take things personality, you'll be better off. But, even then, all of that stress has to go somewhere. It has to be dealt with and actually handled -- not just ignored. And if you're the type of gal who has a personal vendetta against people or the world, then you really should just stay home or go find another career. And, its funny, that most of the things we deal with regularly are simple, easy things -- "turn off your cell phones, remain seated, stow your bag" sort of things. But, honestly, you'd think we're asking for a solution to world peace. It's a grade school issue pretending to be of college-level importance. And its not.

In spite of the fact that I don't advocate blowing up and calling someone naughty names, I understand his predicament 100%. Every single day I wonder if what is in my head is going to actually come out of my mouth. And you know me, many times it does. I met a gentleman at a party a year or so ago who is a sort of psychologist/therapist bloke. He found out that I was a flight attendant. He subsequently informed me that his practice is filled with pilots and flight attendants -- and how much stress we are under -- and how we are not provided with proper coping mechanisms and tools to deal with such a wide variety of issues over the course of a multi-year flight attendant career.

My favorite part of Steven Slater's story is when he absconded with a beer from the galley before deploying the emergency escape slide. I hope it was a higher quality beer, at least -- nothing like PBR or Keystone. I mean, hey now, if you're going to end your career in that way, do it right.....right??

14 comments:

LeLo said...

I love this story. What a way to quit a job!

Anne said...

so many emotions involved here. too bad it wasn't a case of those little bottles that he grabbed.

okay now....a stronger word than repeatedly? how about "so many f***ing times i'm tired of saying it so just do it or get off the f***ing plane"?

i am REPEATEDLY amazed that, in my place of business, the customer can pretty much say/do/act like they want toward us. management errs on their side, in front of us. *sigh*

Rob Inukshuk said...

It's sad to end a career, but hell, if you're going to do it, what a way to go!

BosGuy said...

I think it is a hilarious story. However, it is sort of a sad statement about society; his over the top quitting and the situation which led him to 'blow his lid'.

Dave2 said...

Flying as often as I do... seeing as much crazy crap that flight attendants have to deal with... knowing that more and more passengers are complete dumbasses or rude bastards... I am in absolute shock that there aren't more killings on airline flights. Seriously. If my job was to deal with the crap I see happening on planes all the time... I would take a toilet seat to somebody's head. No joke. I don't know how you can do what you do and stay sane... and not filled with violence and all-consuming rage.

Doug said...

I hope everything turns out for the guy, because I so understand why he did what he did. Traveling seems to bring out the absolute worst from people, and people are bad enough to begin with.

I couldn't do what you and he do for a living. I'd have pulled that emergency slide on about the 3rd day.

Rick said...

He's being hailed as quite a hero. He'll probably get his own reality show and become a celebrity.

Lemuel said...

I must admit I thought of you right away when I heard this story and wondered what your reaction might be. I'm glad you took a post to share your reaction to it.

I tend to side with the attendant myself, although I've never been one and I've only flown in a commercial plane about ten times in my life (and not at all since 9-11 - no occasion to, not aversion of). That was enough however to note the craziness of the public and their frequent refusal to show common courtesy to others or to comply with requests that are really in their best interests (like sit down or turn off your cell).

Alan Bennett Ilagan said...

I totally thought of you when I heard this story - not as in I thought this could easily be you, but rather how you would have dealt with the situation, and I'm guessing it would be slightly more mature. Not that I blame the poor guy - I think we all got a vicarious thrill through what he did.

Greg said...

It was probably Lucky beer. I'm always amazed at how well flight attendants can keep their composure. And after being hit in the head many times as a passenger, from peoples carry-ons or backpacks as they squish down the aisle, I feel for Mr. Slater.

Wayne said...

I thought of you as soon as I saw this. I was wondering what kind of comments you'd make.
And as much as I may sympathize with Mr slater, as you know, you've got to keep your cool in situations like that.
We may all like to blow people off at times, but dealing with the public myself, it takes a lot of restraint.

CJ/Rick said...

When I first heard this I immediately rushed to the tv to see if it was you. As if!
I thought his reaction wa a little over the top. What if he had just confronted the bitch. Would he had still been fired? But no Federal charges at least.
Hang in there Lewis and kill em with kindness.

cb said...

While I think Mr. Slater is just yet another example of someone going temporarily mental, I must give him props for self-destructing his life in high fashion

nycflyer said...

Great blog! I have flown 7 legs as a civilian since my infamous departure scene and I am so thrilled when I hear F/A's speak of actually feeling more respected and better treated. Hopefully this whole fiasco will shed some light on the issue of the demise of common courtesy in America. I know of no other industry in which workers report verbal and, in my case, physical abuse, and yet the industry at whole does a fabulous job of looking the other way. My carriers response to the whole thing has been to offer evry passenger on the flight, including the broad that spilt my head open, a $100 voucher. And I go to Rikers.
I can truly say I am enjoying my "retirement", although a few years earlier than planned... no more reserve, recurrent, and I am flinally off the dreaded NYC-Florida runs. Life is sweet. I asked an old TWA coleague the other day " How did we go from carving Chateaubriand over the North Atlantic to chucking Cheetos in the back on an E-190? Well, it was a great ride and I had a ball, but it is time to pass that baton....
All the best to you and yours, and all who of you who make me proud every day aloft..

Steven Slater
Belle Harbor, NY