I get all of the populist sentiment in favor of Steven Slater, the Jet Blue emergency chute, “I can’t take it anymore” guy. I really do. Flying is annoying, people on airplanes are annoying, being a flight attendant is a thankless job, especially with a no-frills airbus company like Jet Blue. I have read all of the favorable blogs for this guy, including Huff Post columnist Courtney Cachet’s latest blog “The Steven Slater in All of Us” (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/courtney-cachet/the-steven-slater-in-all_b_679412.html)(disclaimer alert – Courtney is a friend and entertainment client of mine). I certainly see your point of view. But I don’t share the feeling of love for this guy.
We are a nation of laws. We are a species with a fully developed brain. What separates us from pack animals is that we restrain the occasional feeling to go outside the bounds of law and act on our primal instincts. Who hasn’t just wanted to scream out loud in anger while waiting on an endless line at a supermarket or in one of the big box stores. I can’t keep track of the number of people I fantasize about pouring hot coffee over their heads on a daily basis. Sure, I would feel tremendous release and pleasure in doing so; but I would be committing a crime.
Just like Steven Slater knew he would be committing a crime when he released a huge emergency chute without any regard for who was on the tarmac. Believe me, if that was your loved one working their butt off ( in an even more thankless job than Slater has) getting crushed by the chute, you would have no love for the idiot who exposed them to that risk of serious injury and possibly death. It’s funny when you think about it; the visual of him grabbing a brewski and sliding down the chute is priceless. But when we analyze it objectively, we should realize that it was senseless act that could have caused a lifetime of hurt and sorrow. We should realize that our laws are in place to regulate society and keep ourselves and egos in check.
Everyday we walk around relying on each other to play by the rules. To not engage in acts that would expose us to harm. This unspoken contract is the only way we all get home safely every day. What if the pilot had a bad day and had decided to throw in the towel? Not so funny is it?
Now I am not saying we should lock him up and throw away the key. I’m certainly not suggesting he should do any jail time at all. But let’s get him into the system, have him take some anger management classes, apologize in writing to the airport personnel and passengers he endangered; do some community service and pay back Jet Blue at least in part for the money this little escapade cost the company. We cannot give him a slap on the wrist.
And please – PLEASE- PLEASE- let’s not make him into a national hero. Let’s not make him the next reality TV star or give him a talk show. Let’s not encourage copycat crimes. Let’s instead support the social compact that guides us and lets celebrate as heroes those men and women who put up with a constant barrage of annoyances and grievances, yet do their jobs with a smile on their face. Or if not a smile, then do their jobs without committing any crimes in frustration, how about that? I am already sickened to see the the Salawis, the White House gate crashers interviewed on the View and having their own reality show. If this guy Slater gets the same treatment, I may pull the emergency brake on the next City subway I ride on screaming “Oprah here I come!”