Last week in The New Yorker, David Sedaris hilariously examined the internal mental state of flight attendants, and revealed what many of them want to say to the passengers they serve. So it's fitting that this week we are treated to an incredibly humorous real-life manifestation of that inner rage: Today, 39-year old Steven Slater (who, in addition to working as a flight attendant for JetBlue, is also chairman of that company’s uniform-redesign committee and a member of its in-flight-values committee) went berserk while on the tarmac at JFK. Here's what happened, according to the Times:
One passenger got out of his seat to fetch his belongings from the overhead compartment before the crew had given permission. Mr. Slater instructed the man to remain seated. The passenger defied him. Mr. Slater approached and reached the passenger just as he pulled down his luggage, which struck Mr. Slater in the head. Mr. Slater asked for an apology. The passenger instead cursed at him. Mr. Slater got on the plane’s public address system and cursed out all aboard. Then he activated the inflatable evacuation slide at service exit R1, launched himself off the plane, an Embraer 190, ran to the employee parking lot and left the airport in a car he had parked there.
That alone reads like the ending of an awkward scene on the Simpsons, with the bizarre speedy getaway. But there's even more brilliance to the story: The Daily News has direct quotes: "To the passenger who called me a m---f--er, f--- you," he screamed. "I've been in the business 28 years. I've had it. That's it." After that, not only did he activate the emergency exit, but the Journal reports he snagged two beers from the galley before he did!
Presumably he enjoyed them on the AirTrain ride back to his car, during which he took off his company tie and "flung it off the train." Later, he drove back to his house in Queens, where he was rounded up by police and brought in for questioning. He may be charged with criminal mischief and trespassing.
You know, it's amazing you don't read stories like this more frequently. You'd assume that, just as passengers periodically go berserk, so would flight attendants. The gathering of the trash with the bare hands alone would have a normal person on edge. And forget about having to wash your hands in those maddening faucets every day. Prediction: This guy becomes some sort of folk hero.
Flight Attendant Uses Emergency Slide to Escape Dispute [City Room/NYT]
Fed-up JetBlue flight attendant drops intercom F-bomb, screams, 'I've had it,' bolts plane [NYDN]
Flight Attendant Pops Emergency Chute, Escapes Plane at JFK [Metropolis/WSJ]