Saturday, August 14, 2010

The only way to unravel

The 206,000 who clicked “Like” on flight attendant Steven Slater’s Facebook page is a small crowd compared to the millions who bought the 45-rpm record of Johnny Paycheck’s “Take this Job and Shove It” back in the ‘70s. But the sentiment is the same. Even in this dire economy, quitting an unrewarding job resonates.

Still, the questions remain—and not just about the brand of beer he made off with, two cans’ worth, as he slid down the emergency chute into stardom—on the way to jail. I want to know what really happened between him and the passenger. I want to know why the passenger who allegedly hit Slater with her bag wouldn’t apologize.

I want to know why Steven Slater reminds me so much of Stephen Stucker, who played Johnny the air-traffic controller in the movie Airplane.

If Slater has his way, everyone will buy his tell-all book to get our questions answered—and to view the dark underbelly of a business we see, of course, as only glamorous. What tell-all book? The one I suspect has already hit the printer, having been ghost-written from recorded transcripts and edited in a matter of hours. There’s no time to waste, after all. Already the fickle public has been distracted by a charming girl who quit her job using a dry-erase board and squealed on her Farmville-addicted boss in the process. And the employee and company don’t even exist.

But you can count me among the few who haven’t yet clicked “Like” on Slater’s fan page. I fly a few times a year, often on Jet Blue, and haven’t seen anything that would make a flight attendant throw away a career over one bad day.

Take me, for instance, a model passenger. I’m not one of those travelers who arrives at the gate with monstrous baggage that would never fit into the overhead bins. Nope, I keep it in a smaller-sized bag that’s easy to swing around as I barge to the front of the line. Passengers with children? Sorry, your adorable walking time bombs should more properly go on last—the less time aboard the better. Trust me, I’m doing you a favor.

Once I’ve raced on ahead of the herd, I stow my bag above and take out my kazoo. It calms me before a flight, you see. The only hitch is that the only time my fellow passengers quiet down enough for me to play is during the flight attendant’s explanation of the safety procedures. And before you ask, I’m not one of those people who needs to be told ten times to stow my personal item fully beneath the seat in front of me. What do you take me for? Seven or eight times is plenty enough.

Jet Blue is special among airlines in that each passenger’s seat has a little TV in front of it. When the flight attendants come around to offer us headphones, I am only too considerate. To show respect for my fellow passengers, I avoid raising my voice even a decibel as I tell the flight attendant where he can put his headphones, which used to be free—but now cost two bucks.

Once the plane is in the air, I’m not so discourteous of the flight attendants that I ignore federal law to make cell calls and check email right before their eyes. Nope, I wait till they go down the aisle to fetch us free drinks and snacks. I even make sure, when in the bathroom, to properly dispose of my cigar butts before returning to my seat.

Flight attendants are people, too. That’s why I make a point of thanking each and very one of them on my way off the plane. This is tougher than it sounds—I’m out of breath, after all, from climbing over passengers in my way. But you know, it really should go without saying: Courtesy is everything. Just ask Steven Slater.


  1. I love it, Eddie! This is too good! Vinnie.

  2. nice job ed, i this whole episode to inane and moronic, and those who adorn with the hero status are the same hypnotized non mensa members addicted to reality television! Rich

  3. Very cute - and timely too! Great piece Eddie.

  4. Thanks very much, everyone! I guess I have to be grateful also to Mr. Slater for providing such a trusty launching pad.