By all accounts, 99% of those that read this should not know who Steven Slater is, but thanks to the instant fame machine of MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, etc.. most of you probably do.
Steven Slater is a JetBlue Flight attendant of no social or political importance. Yet, somehow he dominated the list of top “Yahoo!” searches and top search terms on Twitter on Monday and Tuesday. He gained almost 200,000 Facebook friends in a matter of days.
Why? Did he save some kid from choking on a peanut, stop a midair collision, or foil a terrorist plot? No, he simply threw a temper tantrum and quit his job with a dangerous and grandiose display.
On Monday, Slater confronted a JetBlue passenger on a flight from Pittsburgh to New York. The female passenger was allegedly violating safety rules by removing her luggage from an overhead compartment before the plane came to a complete stop. There are several accounts of what exactly happened between Slater and this passenger. Some reports say that an “unruly passenger” used an expletive toward Slater. Other reports quote Slater’s lawyer as claiming that the passenger “maliciously hit him on his head with her luggage.” What is clear is what Slater did in response. Steven Slater went to the airplane microphone and cursed the passenger. Slater then grabbed two beers, pulled open an emergency exit, and slid down the inflatable slide in grandiose fashion. Police later took a jovial Slater into custody. Slater was charged with criminal mischief, trespassing, and reckless endangerment…charges that could mean Slater is in prison for the next seven years.
Bam, instant internet fame on Twitter, MySpace, and Facebook.
Within hours, Slater was being hailed as a working-class hero on sites like Facebook, Twitter, and MySpace. Supporters were offering to pay his $2,500 bail. Jimmy Fallon was singing ballads to Slater on late night TV. TMZ was clamoring to get the scoop on who Steven Slater is and wasa. The incident even made it into the White House after Press Secretary Robert Gibbs made a joking reference to Slater’s antics during an unrelated press question.
I understand that to some dealing with their own job frustrations, bad working conditions, and rude customers, Slater may indeed be a hero worthy of Facebook and Twitter admiration. Anyone that has ever worked in public service can give you countless tales of the rude and entitled behavior that many people display. That still does not give any employee the right to behave so recklessly. If you don’t like the details that come with a job, then quit the right way. Hero doesn’t come to mind when I think of the workers that could have been killed or injured when Steven Slater deployed the emergency slide. A plane emergency slide deploys with a force of 3000 psi. No surprise…my vote is idiot!